By Jonty Ralphsmith
Narre Warren Football Club and Dandenong West Cricket Club held a joint testimonial for Greg Siwes on Saturday night at Kalora Park.
A passionate and smart hard worker who has aided the plight of several clubs and countless players in the south eastern region, Siwes is currently entrenched in both clubs.
At Dandy West, he serves as vice-president while he assists reserves coach Jamie Brown at Narre.
The event was attended by more than 100 people who shared anecdotes, laughs and appreciation for his commitment to local sport across the past 30 years.
Siwes was unaware the event was being held, lured to the club under the pretence of a plumbing issue that needed to be addressed on the way to nice dinner with wife Vanessa, following a day of toil in the sun for Dandy West’s Second XI.
“It was a bit strange I thought; everyone left the rooms really quickly after the game,” Siwes reflected.
“One of the blokes hung around and we had a few beers but we were the only two here so I thought ‘what’s going on?
“I went home and had a swim in the backyard pool and my wife was on to me about getting ready and I turned up and wow.
“When you walk in and people are taking photos you go ‘wow’ – it’s only later on you realise what’s going on.
“It’s been a good journey and the common denominator is that I’m a competitive person in whatever sport I play and I can’t help that, that’s just the way I am, and I’ll continue to be competitive in whatever I do.”
Dandenong West president Peter Lindsay emceed the event, and spoke to Star News about the significant role Siwes has played in the cricket club.
“He was a leader in many ways both on and off the field,” Lindsay said.
“Once he crossed the line from a game point-of-view, he never wanted to be beaten, and off the field, he was able to gel the club together.
“Even now, he’s thinking about different players and what he sees in them and he’s only too willing to pass on any of those opinions to our current leaders.
“There’s always a game plan even if he’s watching.”
As a player, he was a key piece of the Bulls’ dominance around the turn of the century, and his presence is still being felt now, after he reinvigorated the club’s junior program a decade ago.
Son, Riley, is a staple of the Dandenong West First XI, alongside Bailey Howarth and Nathan Power, while Dylan Diacono was an important player last season.
From a footballing perspective, he was a fine on-baller during Narre’s success in the early 1990s and has a reputation as being a student of the game.
He has coached Noble Park’s reserves to a premiership and Devon Meadows to its most recent grand final appearance.
But the widely held belief is that his greatest performance as a mentor was winning the 2008 preliminary against Pakenham, to that point undefeated all season, as coach of Keysborough.
“He exposed their weaknesses,” said Narre president Stuart Stephenson, who has known Siwes since the 1970s.
“He had seven or eight really good players and maximised them.
“He really thought through it, was so prepared, and would know the metreage of every ground so he could set the game up to suit his team
“Narre won the grand final the next week but to get that Keysborough team, which was pretty average, to the grand final was, I think, his best coaching performance.”
After playing juniors at Lyndale, Siwes has been involved in the following football clubs: Dandenong, Kerang, Narre, Devon Meadows, Noble Park, Pearcedale and Keysborough.
Following a stint at Silverton, Siwes has played 230 games at the Bulls, scoring a club-high 6149 runs including eight centuries, to go with his 120 wickets.