By Mark Heenan
Voice sports reporter Mark Heenan speaks to 2017 Ocean Grove Football Club senior best-and-fairest winner and Damian Clark medallist James Linton at the senior presentation night.
In his second season at Ocean Grove, Linton won back-to-back Damian Clark medals after last year’s individual triumph. He finished second in the BFL Les Ash Medal at the league best-and-fairest awards. The Colac raised Linton, 26, works as a naturopath in Ocean Grove. He spoke openly about his medal honour, club highlights for the season, thoughts on his suspension after the BFL elimination final loss to Modewarre and his association with the Ocean Grove township.
Mark Heenan: How have you enjoyed fitting into the town of Ocean Grove after two seasons with the Grubbers?
James Linton: I love it down here, football is a big part of the community. If you can be part of a football club I think you kind of work your way into the community a lot easier. Working here and living here was big change for me because it is something different to have done my whole life. I grew up playing in Colac but I moved to Geelong and moved to Brisbane and I was always travelling back to play for Colac. But now living in the one place and playing football in the one town you feel part of the community. The club has really looked after me and I pretty thankful for Ocean Grove.
MH: What does it mean to win the Damian Clark Medal for the second time?
JL: I am speechless to win it for a second time. I am pretty honoured but I don’t play football to win these awards and to win this award is a benefit. I would happily hand it in for a flag for sure and that’s one thing we are working towards.
MH: The three-week suspension handed to you for rough conduct on Modewarre’s Tom Worpel during the BFL elimination final loss … was it instinctive? Or did you feel you needed to show physical intent given the Grubbers were down at the time of incident?
JL: “We were four goals down and every team would need it and I guess being part of the leadership group people look up to you to do something. My intention wasn’t to do exactly what happened, but you do try and lift a team in a certain way by kicking a goal or having a holding the ball tackle. The leadership group expect you to do it.
MH: What has been the team highlight for the 2017 season?
JL: We didn’t win Battle of the Bridge against Barwon Heads. Winning that Ammos (Geelong Amateur) after not beating them for five seasons in round nine at home was a sense of achievement because you understand the background of where rivalries are at. That was instrumental for us and the team had a ‘hot patch’ for month and a half. It was a really good vibe around the club, you do appreciate those games and that was a big one. That was probably highlight for the year.
MH: Your Grubber team-mate Kaiden Long is known for his love of the outdoors. How have you enjoyed surfing and catching a few waves with Long off the field?
JL: He (Long) does help me in the surf, that’s about the only reason I get out there. He helps me fishing too as well, he is great. A few of us boys going out fishing once a week.