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Where Are They Now? Troy Bond

Katrina Gill  May 27, 2014 3:47 PM

Magic Moments: Troy Bond Troy Bond kicked four goals in the 1997 AFL Grand Final to help the Crows to their first AFL flag since the Club's inception.
Troy Bond celebrates his fourth goal in the 1997 Grand Final

Troy Bond celebrates his fourth goal in the 1997 Grand Final

I think it all meant a bit more to me having missed out in 1995.

A regular afc.com.au feature, Where Are They Now? shines the spotlight on a former Crow.

In this instalment, we catch up with 1997 premiership hero Troy Bond …

From the northern suburbs of Adelaide, Bond caught the eye of SANFL recruiters as a teenager. He progressed through the Port Magpies program and was eventually picked up by Carlton with pick No.88 in the 1992 AFL National Draft …

“I started at Salisbury North Football Club. I played there until I was 13-14-years-old and then Bob Clayton, who was one of the Port Magpies recruiters and a great guy, came out and grabbed me, my brother Shane and Gavin Wanganeen and took us back to the Magpies. I played in the ‘Samboy Cup’, I think it was called back then, and we won a premiership that year. As a kid, all I wanted to do was play AFL. In 1992, Carlton gave me that opportunity and then my brother Shane went to West Coast. The draft was a lot different to now. It wasn't on TV or followed closely. You basically just got a phone call from the club saying, 'You're in'. It was tough for Shane and I to leave home – We hadn't been out of Adelaide much before, but it was great to be in the AFL system.”

Bond made his AFL debut, ironically, against Adelaide in Round One, 1994. The skilful small forward played 21 games in his debut season and after an injury-interrupted start in 1995 cemented his place in the finals-bound Blues team. He played in Carlton’s Qualifying Final win over the Brisbane Bears and also the Preliminary Final victory over North Melbourne, but was left out of the Grand Final team to make way for another South Australian and now Crows assistant coach, Scott Camporeale, who missed the prelim through injury. The Blues went onto beat Geelong by 10 goals to claim the flag …

“It was a very difficult time. I missed a few games through injury but then played nearly every one from then on. The hardest thing was that I wasn't even told I wasn't playing. I found out in the newspaper the next morning. It was a bit rough, but I put it behind me and was fortunate enough to get another opportunity to play in a Grand Final.”

Homesick and unhappy with the events of Grand Final week, Bond returned to Adelaide and asked to be traded to the Crows …

“As disappointing as it was being left out of the Grand Final team, I was homesick too and wanted to come home. (Carlton Coach) David Parkin and (Football Manager) Col Kinnear flew over to see me in Adelaide. They tried to convince me to go back to Melbourne, but I was already home and didn't want to leave again.”

The Crows got involved in a three-way trade with Carlton and Geelong to secure Bond at the end of ‘95’ – the same offseason that Darren Jarman, Kym Koster and Peter Caven also joined the Club through trades. A year later, Troy’s younger brother, Shane, would also return to South Australia, joining the Power for their inaugural AFL (1997) season …

“It’s funny how it panned out. The Crows were fantastic and really wanted me to join the Club. I would've loved to play with Shane. In an ideal world, we would’ve got him to the Crows too, but I was just happy to be home and playing AFL footy.”

Instead of playing together, the Bond brothers played against one another and were often direct opponents in Showdown games …

“Port would either put Shane or Gavin Wanganeen on me. It was tough playing on your brother, but Gavin was like another brother to me. I think Port did it to try to put me off my game, but you just had to try to block it out and play your natural game. It was hard for the family. They barracked for both teams and then didn't really know what to do when we played each other. I guess they just wanted to see us both do well.”

The new recruit played 20 of a possible 22 games in an impressive first year at Adelaide and finished top 10 in the best and fairest. But the team finished 12th with only eight wins, prompting Malcolm Blight to replace Robert Shaw as coach …

“I got along well with Robert Shaw and Blighty was fantastic too when he came in. He stripped footy right back and got us to focus on doing the fundamentals well. He let me play my natural game and only roasted me when I used to miss training. I reckon I only spoke a few sentences to Blighty in the whole time I was there because I knew what he wanted from me.”

One of those ‘roasts’ came after an unexpected loss to Melbourne in 1999. Blight lined the players up and unleashed one of his best-ever sprays …

“The boys went to the MCG and got beaten by Melbourne who weren’t going that flash. I didn't play because I was out with a hamstring injury. When we got back to the Club, Blighty got the team out in front of the room and got up on a ladder behind us. We stayed facing the other way. He went through player by player and gave them a roast. I was in the injured group off to the side, so I thought I might escape a spray but a quarter of the way through Blighty said, 'Where the hell is Bondy?' My ears pricked up and he said, 'Where were you on the weekend? Weren't you supposed to be training and doing rehab, so you're right to play?' Before I could say anything he said, 'Get your gear mate and go back to Port Magpies. I'll ring you when I want to see you'. I thought I was going to get off, but I copped as big a roast as the boys who played. I think almost everyone copped it that day. It was Blighty at his best.”

In 1997, Blight led the Crows to their first Grand Final and Bond was able to experience what he’d missed out on at Carlton two years earlier …

“I remember the week leading up to the Grand Final. The whole of South Australia was excited. Thousands of people were out watching us train and then we had the Grand Final parade. I think it all meant a bit more to me having missed out in 1995. I had the chance to do it all again. At the time in 1995, I remember thinking, ‘You play your whole career hoping for an opportunity to play in a Grand Final and win a flag. Have I missed my chance?’. Getting a second chance and doing it with a team back home in SA was even better.”

Bond was a vital member of Adelaide’s ‘97’ premiership-winning team. He’s fondly remembered for kicking four goals without miss, one in each quarter, against St Kilda on Grand Final day …

“The day just goes so quick. I remember running out onto the ground and the noise was unbelievable. You couldn't hear a thing. It was really special for me having my parents and a lot of my family over to watch the game too. It meant the world to me. After the game, we went into the change rooms and all our families were there to celebrate with us. A bit later, all the boys went back out onto the MCG after everyone had left. It was amazing. You run out in front of 100,000 screaming fans and then a few hours later it's empty and dead silent. It's a day I'll never forget.”

The Crows would return to the Grand Final stage in 1998, but unfortunately Bond watched from the sidelines just as he had for Carlton in ‘95’. Injuries limited him to only 10 games and prevented him from being part of the back-to-back premiership team …

“My hamstrings played up in ‘98’. Every time I thought I'd got it right and started to get some fitness and form, it would go again. It was a very stop-start year for me. I finally got going again, but then month or so before the finals I dislocated by shoulder in a night game against Carlton.

“I needed a shoulder reconstruction and missed playing in the finals and another premiership. It was very disappointing to miss out on the opportunity to play in another flag. I went over to the MCG to watch the Grand Final. It was a great game. It was disappointing I wasn't out there, but I was thrilled to see them win. There were a lot of hard-luck stories at the Crows in those two premiership years. Mark Ricciuto missed the first flag through injury. Fortunately, he got the opportunity to play in 1998, but ‘Mods’ (Tony Modra) missed them both. I still feel for him. It's probably one of the biggest disappointments that Mods didn't get the chance to play in at least one premiership. He did so much for the Club and deserved two flags.”

Injuries affected Bond again in 1999. The talented goalkicker was limited to only 10 games. He got himself fit for the Club’s first pre-season under new coach Gary Ayres but a pre-season hip injury brought about a sudden end to his 94-game AFL career …

“When Gary Ayres took over, I was able to do my first full pre-season. ‘Ayresy’ was going to play me on the ball, which I was looking forward to. I'd played on the ball in a couple of years at the Port Magpies, but when I got to AFL level they just saw me as a smart, goalkicking forward.

“I got as fit as I'd ever been, but towards the end of the pre-season my hip started playing up. I had it cleaned out and it was probably the worst thing I could've done because it's never been the same since. Before I knew it, I was in a meeting with the Club and we decided it was never going to be the same. That was the end.”

It was a cruel end to a career full of highs and lows. Upon reflection, the laidback Crow wishes he’d been more professional in his approach to training and rehabilitation. His former teammates joke about how the elusive Bond would use every trick in the book to avoid testing and training in general …

“Playing football was fantastic. I got a lot out of my natural ability, but I didn't really train as hard as I should have. I could've been better with my rehab too. I always used to think of ways to get out of it. I'd tell Reidy (former Football Manager John Reid) I had something on with the family, or I would just disappear somewhere. The boys would be asking, 'Where's Bondy?' I tried everything. I always loved playing but didn't like training, especially when it was 38 degrees in pre-season and all my cousins and friends were going fishing and I couldn't! Looking back, it's probably my biggest regret. If I'd done a full pre-season in the eight or nine years I played it would've been handy. I should've trained more and it might've prolonged my career a bit.”

Bond still keeps in regular contact with his former Crows teammates, including Andrew McLeod. He remembers a young McLeod coming through the ranks at Port Magpies …

“Bunji will go down as one of the greatest players of our Club. He was a fantastic player and is a great bloke. He was just starting out through the Port Magpies and the Crows when I came back from Carlton and he had a bit of puppy fat back then. The goal he kicked against Hawthorn in 1995 ignited his career. It was one of those special moments. His games in the two Grand Finals were superb. His body shaped changed and he got himself super fit. He became one of the best running backs in the competition.”

Since retiring from football, Bond has been working for the South Australian Government, giving back to the local community in his role as an Aboriginal Projects Officer. He’s married with four children, two boys and two girls, and also co-hosts a long-running radio show, ‘Corka Yarnin’ (Deadly/Good Talking) …

“When I finished playing AFL I didn't really know what I was going to do. I was fortunate enough to get a job with the SA Government in the Drug and Alcohol Services. I really enjoy it, working with young people and giving something back. I've been there 14 years now. I enjoy helping young fellas and encouraging them to stay in school or make the most of their sporting ability. We want them to reach their full potential.

“My brother and I started the radio show about 10 years ago. It’s still going 89.7FM on Mondays between 7:30-8:30pm. We chat to the stars and celebrities of the Aboriginal Community. It’s about promoting the Aboriginal community in a positive way."

A regular at Crows games, Bond will be at Adelaide Oval on Sunday as part of the Club’s Indigenous Round celebrations. Through McLeod, the Crows have invited all past Indigenous players to be involved in the occasion …

“I still get along to the past player functions. The Crows will always have a special place in my heart. They’ve been fantastic to me and help me out whenever I need whether that’s with interviews for the radio show or something else. It’s great to see the Crows and also the Power now taking the lead with their work in the Indigenous Community in SA.

“Having Bunji there to help drive that is fantastic and the work he’s doing through his programs is brilliant. Most AFL clubs now have Aboriginal players on their list and those players are now getting involved in designing guernseys for Indigenous Round. It’s great the clubs are getting behind it and getting the community involved. Bunji’s done a fantastic job with the Crows jumper. I’ll definitely be there to see some of my old mates and, hopefully, watch the Crows have a win.”