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A conversation with...Paul Tuddenham

In the weekly Official Collingwood Match Day Program, collingwoodfc.com.au will be catching up for a chat with a past player to discuss their career and find out what they have been up to since taking off the Collingwood jumper for the last time.



The full interview will be published in the official Collingwood Match Day Program each week.



This week, collingwoodfc.com.au spoke to a man who carries one of the most famous names in football. Paul Tuddenham played 40 games for Collingwood between 1987 and 1991 and contributed to several victories in the famous 1990 season. The son of Des, a member of the Collingwood and Australian Football Halls of Fame, Paul now works as a property developer and has recently returned from London where he watched the Olympics with Craig Kelly.


On what he’s doing in 2012…
As little as possible! I’m a self employed property developer. I’ve been doing that for quite a few years now. Specialising in commercial office and residential.

On whether or not he felt any pressure as the son of Des Tuddenham, one of the legends of Australian football…
It was nothing overt. I’m a fairly pragmatic person so even that comes with a bit of expectation and whatever else but it never worried me at all. I won’t say it had the opposite effect, but I was always happy to get pretty physical when I was playing footy in my younger days so if someone said you’re not as good as your dad or something like that, it tended to fire me up more than anything else.

On his memories of 1987, his first season in the senior team…
I don’t remember much of the season, to be honest, but I remember my first game, as most people do, pretty accurately. It was against St Kilda at Moorabbin and it was blowing an absolute gale. Tony Lockett kicked 10, I think, and I actually played quite a good game. I took a one-handed mark and my first touch of the ball was a handball that set up a goal. I was probably unlucky not to kick a couple of goals because I had a couple of, not easy, but close shots into the wind. But seriously, the ball was just…it literally got blown back to you. That’s how windy it was. It was remarkable really. I remember Tony Lockett running out at centre half forward and they were kicking with the wind. The ball was spoiled by Ronnie McKeown (and that was in the centre circle) and he turned around and pushed someone off and kicked it from the centre square and it went through for a goal at post height. We lost the game but I really enjoyed it and we had a good win against Essendon in my second game at the MCG, which was the last game of the year. I had a good game and kicked my first two goals and got a bit of the ball. It was a good start to my career.

On being on the brink of becoming a regular in the senior side in the late 1980s…
I had a really good pre-season (in 1989) and got myself the fittest I could have been. Micky Gayfer was pretty fit but I felt that I’d become one of the fittest if not the fittest at the club in a running sense, so I had a really good year and was going really well. Then I went up for a mark against Footscray at their oval and got knocked by Ronnie McKeown when I was going up and came down really awkwardly and my left foot got stuck in the mud and my body came forward and my head smashed into my left foot and I basically ripped my hamstring off the bone. I’d played most games, but I missed the rest of the year. It was a total of 14 weeks because we ended up playing finals that year and I still wasn’t right to play and for a hamstring injury that’s pretty much unheard of. To this day the bloody thing annoys the hell out of me, so I’ve only got probably 50 or 60 per cent of my left hamstring attached to the bone up the top so that unfortunately cost me. I was never able to run as well after that. Guys like Nick Riewoldt and Matthew Lloyd and a few others have had it done surgically but not in those days unfortunately.

On his involvement on Grand Final day in 1990 after missing out due to previous injuries…
I still feel like I was a part of the team. I played most of the games when I was fit and I felt like I made a contribution to the team because of that and when I was playing I played some good games. There’s always that feeling that you’re not a part of it but I didn’t let that affect me as much as it did some others. I always thought it was great for the team and great for the club. It’s a great club and a really important part of my life because of my dad and because of me, so I was always happy to be here and be a part of it and make a contribution so I sucked it up.



Paul Tuddenham and Craig Kelly spend a day the RAAF base at Tindall in May 1989.

I was in the rooms for most of the day when the players were there and obviously watching from the stands. I was on the bus to Victoria Park where we had our dinner and all that sort of stuff. I didn’t really let it (the fact I didn’t actually play) affect me too much. We had a really good night. I think I came home with Craig Starcevich from The Tunnel nightclub at one or two in the morning with our wives. I think we had something to eat at Richmond, went home and then went straight back in the next day. So the partying went on for a while!

On a challenging 1991 season that saw him shift to Carlton at the end of the year…
Yeah, it was a really difficult time. When I was first diagnosed it was just with a torn medial meniscus, so it was to do with the cartilage in the knee. So I continued training with the reserves who were actually in the finals. I was training on the Thursday and I ended up going to change direction and my whole knee collapsed under me and I just went, ‘oh that wasn’t good’, so I ended up getting an arthroscope and came out just expecting to hear them say ‘yeah, you’ll be right in six weeks’, but they said ‘you’ve ruptured your ACL and you’ll be out for up to a year’.

I’ve thought, ‘well, that’s not great’, but I always remember this because two and a half days later Darren Millane was killed. It was at that time of year. That tended to put things into perspective. I still remember being at his funeral on crutches. I always look back on that and go well, things could have been worse. It was a shocking time, not so much for me, but a shocking time in a whole number of different ways.

On the players he still keeps in contact with 21 years after his final game...
The great thing about playing footy or a team sport is the camaraderie and friendships that you make. Rowdy, Chrisso, Gav Crosisca and Mick Gayfer, even Daics, Denis Banks, Brian Taylor, they’re all still friends of mine in that I still see them pretty regularly or as often as time permits. That’s the great thing. And there’s Craig Kelly. I caught up with Craig in London last week during the Olympics. You want to try and be the best you can and all that sort of stuff but a side effect of that is all the sorts of people you meet.