Toby Greene. Wesley College V Xavier College 2011 Please Cedit Photo By Richard Stone
Toby Greene. Wesley College V Xavier College 2011 Please Cedit Photo By Richard Stone

Greene heroics etched in school footy folklore

April 30, 2011. Wesley College v Xavier College, Round 1 of the APS season at Wesley in Prahran.

With six minutes left, Xavier leads by 20 points, with the game safe enough unless a miracle-worker can be found.

Enter Toby Greene, a 179cm 17-year-old who has been starring in the midfield until cramping late in the game.

So Wesley coach Peter Curran, of triple Hawthorn premiership fame, moves Greene to full-forward.

What happened next has become football folklore, etched in the memories of those who witnessed a bubbly kid doing his best impersonation of Darren Jarman from the last quarter of the 1997 Grand Final.

Greene kicked four goals to lift Wesley to a four-point victory. And while he reckons it came about mostly through luck, his coach says that is nonsense.

"Two of those goals came when Toby was matched by two opponents. And with the set shots, he just ran back and kicked the goals before anyone had realised what was going on,'' Curran recalls.

"He was on a roll and when he's like that he has a real touch of magic. He can really put his stamp on a game in a very short period of time. Toby just has a real desire for competition and appetite for hard work.''

 

Toby Greene sends the Wesley College fan wild. Picture: Richard Stone
Toby Greene sends the Wesley College fan wild. Picture: Richard Stone

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Making it all the more surprising that he was overlooked by the Oakleigh Chargers when he tried out in Year 11.

In fact, he was no good thing to be included in Oakleigh's 2011 squad until family friend, former coach and Wesley teacher Mark Hibbins made a call.

"I was annoyed that Oakleigh hadn't selected him in 2010. I understand clubs sometimes overlook the smaller kids and Toby would've been reasonably shy, standing at the back not saying much,'' Hibbins said.

"I said to (regional manager) Mark Smart at Oakleigh: 'Just let him play a game and then judge him'. Toby and I first coached him in the under-9s has always known where the ball is going and tends to will himself to get it.

"The word from Oakleigh was he hadn't really done much and didn't stand out at training.

"That changed when he played a game. It was the same with the Vic Metro squad. He just kept rising to the next level.''

So why did he not make Oakleigh Chargers at his first try? Smart said a combination of factors worked against him in 2010.

"He had a bit of injury, probably needed to improve his kicking skills, and TAC Cup teams are limited in how many private schoolboys they can select each year,'' Smart said.

"In a group of 80 players, Toby Greene could be hidden away until he started to play a game. It was the same with Vic Metro, where he missed the original squad.

"When Metro coach Rohan Welsh rang up looking for a couple of replacements for injured players, Toby was one we nominated. He played very well in that match and we've since seen his development.''

Toby Greene’s goal celebration hasn’t changed much.
Toby Greene’s goal celebration hasn’t changed much.

Greene was born into a football family, with father Mick and uncle Paul both outstanding amateur players with De La Salle and Victoria.

"When I first went to the Oakleigh Chargers, I didn't get a lot of opportunities to play well, plus I was a bit on the small and skinny side,'' he said in his first AFL season.

"No doubt being taller helps in those circumstances, but I was still pretty disappointed initially. But it was a good year in 2010 because my two sides, Wesley and Ashburton, won flags.

"When I went back last year I just made the cut at Oakleigh, and the coach, Greg Doyle, told me I was very close to being cut. But I believed in myself.

"Then I played OK in a practice game, a bit better in Round 1, and better again in each game. When I got that late call-up to the Vic Metro team, I played one of my best-ever games in a practice match against Vic Country at Visy Park.''

Toby Greene celebrates the Giants’ preliminary final win with Daniel Lloyd. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Toby Greene celebrates the Giants’ preliminary final win with Daniel Lloyd. Picture. Phil Hillyard
News Corp Australia


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