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Melbourne Football Club

Maynard makes family proud with No.20

WHEN Melbourne handed out its guernseys for 2018, there were several famous red and blue numbers inherited by new occupants.  

Midfielder/forward James Harmes swapped No.43 for No.4, the number made famous by the legendary Norm Smith, while the club’s first pick in this NAB AFL Draft, Charlie Spargo received No.9, worn with distinction by Melbourne’s games record holder David Neitz and five-time premiership player Brian Dixon.

Casey recruit Bayley Fritsch gained No.31, which was his draft number and the jumper worn by arguably the game’s greatest name, Ron Barassi. Oskar Baker landed No.33, donned by team of the century member Gary Hardeman, and Harrison Petty was given No.35, which belonged to two-time premiership captain Noel McMahen.

Given the historical significance of those numbers, it’s perhaps fitting that the most personal relates to Corey Maynard, who moved from No.48 to No.20, which became vacant after new Casey Demons VFLW coach Colin Garland recently retired.  

For Maynard, it wasn’t the number that his father Peter wore at Melbourne in 1980-81. That was No.36. But the No.20 jumper was the one that his grandfather Graham Campbell had when he was at Fitzroy.

Campbell, now 81 years old, was a fine player for the Roys. He notched up 151 matches from 1956-64, winning the club’s best and fairest in 1957. Campbell later coached Fitzroy in 1974 and 1978, guiding the club to the ’78 night premiership. He also played in Fitzroy’s night flag in 1959.

The fact that Maynard will wear No.20 next year is something that already means plenty to him – and his family – as he explained.

“It was always something, when I made the switch to footy from basketball, that I thought would be awesome to do for my grandpa and my family, down the track – that was my goal,” he said.

“Now that it’s worked out that Col’s retired, he was OK with giving me that and the club ticked off on it.

“It was an awesome feeling to be able to do that, given how grandpa is doing at the moment, which is not great, so it’s something awesome for my nan and family to hopefully see – No.20 back out on the MCG. That’d be pretty amazing for my family.”

Maynard said his nan was overwhelmed when she found out her grandson would be wearing the same number her husband did with Fitzroy.

“She cried and just kept saying ‘thank you, thank you’. She was so proud – she’s a proud nan of all of her grandkids – but she said it was amazing,” he said.

“When grandpa found out – we call him ‘Ra Ra’ – he would say ‘ahh, No.20, that’s my number’. He couldn’t quite put it together, but Nan was over the moon and hopefully she might be able to come over and watch a game next year, which would be a special moment for me and her.

“I sent her a picture of my locker last week – because they live in Adelaide – and she knows how to work her iPhone a bit, so she was messaging back love hearts. She was speechless and it was pretty awesome to see that reaction, which means more to me than anything else to do with it.”

Maynard, whose younger brother Brayden plays at Collingwood, said he was proud to come from a strong football family.

“I have people coming up to me saying ‘your grandfather is Graham Campbell’ and to think people know who he is to this day is pretty special and speaks volumes of the impact he had, before I was around,” he said.

“I’m the oldest grandchild and apparently when I was born, there is this story that I couldn’t say grandpa or Graham, so I was saying ‘Ra Ra’ and it stuck. So, the last 26 years, he’s been referred to as ‘Ra Ra’ by our family.

“He’s a pretty beloved character.”

Maynard was also appreciative of Garland’s support to take over the No.20 guernsey, after the Tasmanian played 141 games from 2007-16.

“It was funny, because a bunch of us – me, Trenners (Jack Trengove), Aaron vandenBerg, Sam Weideman, Frosty (Sam Frost) and Garlo – all went over to Perth for Jake Spencer’s wedding. That was just when I was thinking that I could be No.20,” he said.

“We were all staying together and Garlo brought out a Melbourne jumper in front of the boys and with a bit of a laugh said ‘I’d love [Corey] to have No.20’.

“We had a chat about it and he told me about the history with it, which included Troy Broadbridge wearing it and who’s story is well-known. Troy has an award named after him at the club, so I knew about that. It’s a pretty special number at the club.

“Although I didn’t get to play with Col, as he was injured this year, we have a good relationship. Anyone who knows Col knows the jovial character he is. He said I jumped into his locker, when it was still warm.

“When I’m not running well, he says ‘the old No.20 didn’t run like that’. I’m sure that fun will continue. But he’s a life member of the club and if I can half the career he had, I’d be rapt.”

Maynard, who made his AFL debut in round 20, this year against GWS Giants in Canberra, said he felt “totally different to last pre-season”.

“Last year, when I came in, I was trying to learn the game. I hadn’t played for 10 years, so I was learning how to kick again and learning the game plan,” he said.

“I was in new surroundings and getting to know my teammates and coaches. It’s a whole different feeling from that perspective and now I feel really comfortable with where I’m at.

“I’m able to hone in on my footy stuff and that’s because my teammates and coaches have given me the confidence to become a really good, consistent AFL player. I’m just trying to come in everyday with that mindset and apply that to training. I’m really happy with how it’s going at the moment and hopefully I can maintain that – and who knows where that’ll take me.”