It was 38 years ago when Ray Stevens was reluctantly dragged into coaching junior football.
He's still doing it today - not as steady on his feet as he once was after a stroke in February slowed him up, but with a love of coaching that still burns bright.
"It all began when my son Gregory started playing under-6s for Rutherford Dragons and I was team manager," Ray recalled.
"The coach didn't work out and so I was moved across to replace him as coach. We went okay that first year but we won the premiership the two years after that.
"Funny though, I didn't really like coaching at first, but the more I did it the more I grew to love it."
Now it's a passion, which was clearly evident when he was in hospital after his stroke ... the thing that drove him on was to get back out on the field with his team.
"I don't drink or smoke, so that probably helped me get back on my feet, but I was lucky," he acknowledges. "It was a Saturday morning and I didn't feel right. We were up at Green Hills and the left side of my body didn't seem to be working properly. Fortunately we got home okay ... now I have the tablets. I think it helps if you can be happy, too.
"I love the culture of the boys, of the team and the footy club ... just seeing the fun they're having together."
I think if I have a secret, it's that I don't take any rubbish. There's only one boss.- Ray Stevens
These days Ray tends to sit on the sideline rather than stand, and during games and a lot of the training sessions his eldest grandson Zachary, 19, provides the legwork as assistant coach.
In fact, his Dragons under 12s team, which he's had for six years, is a real family affair - his daughter Paula is manager and grandsons Karl and Jayden are in the team.
"And they're top little players."
The love of football runs deep in the family. His granddaughter Brianna has represented Australia at Futsal - in fact she made the national under 21 team when she was just 16.
"We all just love our football, simple as that," Ray said.
His under-12 team's two games so far this season have been landslide wins - 17-0 and 10-1. Last year they only lost one game, so whatever his secret is, it's worth bottling.
For Ray, it's a simple formula.
"We work hard at training and put a lot of time into our defence," he said. "The boys appreciate it.
"But I think if I have a secret, it's that I don't take any rubbish. There's only one boss. If they don't want to train or don't want to listen I say there's the gate, see you next week."
Ray also acknowledges that he doesn't like getting beaten, but at 78 his future is uncertain.
"Who knows, I might retire after this season," he says.
"I don't know I'm not there yet."
Somehow it'a hard to think there's not another season in the old boy yet.
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