Ian Callinan: The Tasmanian who became a South Aussie favourite
It took 11 years, numerous state premierships and best and fairests, but at 28-years-old Ian Callinan was drafted to the AFL. The Tasmanian made an instant impact in the SANFL with Central District and then on the big stage with the Adelaide Crows. He went One on One with Jack Hudson to reflect on his career.
Jack Hudson: What was life like growing up in Tasmania?
Ian Callinan: It’s a pretty proud state, it was a good journey really.
I started playing when I was about six at my local club and went through the ranks there.
They’re not around anymore, I went onto Clarence Footy Club.
JH: You played for a few clubs and played for the state as well – what was that like?
IC: Obviously you had your local club, then it went into seniors, which did have junior clubs but only had under 17s and 19s in those days.
That was through Clarence, I played my juniors there up until under 16s, and then I went onto the Tassie Mariners as they were in those days at TAC Cup level at under 18 level for two years.
I was lucky enough to play in a flag with Clarence when I was 17.
JH: You nominated for the 2000 AFL Draft and didn’t get picked up. Were you shocked?
IC: I don’t know if I was shocked, disappointed was probably the word.
Down here, because we had a TAC Cup team, there would be articles in the paper every week and you start to believe.
I was talked up obviously going and when it didn’t happen it was obviously disappointing, but in the end, it probably made me a better person and made me more determined in the long run.
We were lucky enough at the end of 2000 when I didn’t get drafted, we got our own VFL side, so I had the option of moving away to Melbourne and being a Geelong supplementary list player back in those days, and then I decided to stay home because we had our own side, and I ended up playing there for six years.
JH: What was it like having a Tassie side in the VFL?
IC: It was unbelievable really, it was like having an AFL side just in the VFL.
I have some really close mates from there and obviously we didn’t win a premiership, but we played in some preliminary finals, and some other finals.
We built from the ground up, I remember when we first started, we got put together in January and we were playing in March, I remember our first game – scores were level against Sandringham thinking how good we’re going to be with no pre-season and we ended up getting beaten by 100 points.
JH: You won the J. J. Liston Trophy – how important was that to you?
IC: I wouldn’t say it was important, it was just good recognition having put some good seasons together, that was just one season.
That wasn’t just good recognition for me, but good for the club as well which was built from the ground up.
For someone from the club to win that medal, it was for everyone really.
JH: You then made the move across to Central District, how did it all come about?
IC: I played a state game in 2005 against South Australia, and played on Heath Hopwood, who captained Centrals for a fair few years.
At the beginning of 2006 they rang me, and I was on 95 games with Tassie, and life membership was 100 games, so I decided to stick it out one more year and get my 100 games and get my life membership with the Devils.
I said to Centrals to give me a ring the following year, and I was training at North Melbourne at the time, and they rang me once every three or four days to see how I was going with the Kangaroos and see if I was going to be picked up.
Obviously, that didn’t happen, and I rolled the dice and decided to move away.
JH: You won four flags in four seasons at Elizabeth – what was your experience like there?
IC: It was unbelievable really, when I first got there they were coming off losing the 2006 grand final, the club was pretty hungry.
They were a really professional club, the way they train there is as hard as an AFL club in a way that you go to work for eight hours and then you try to fit a week’s worth of training into two or three hours on a Monday and Wednesday night.
We trained really hard, we were super fit, our leading mantle was that we were fit, and I have no doubt it won us games of footy in the long run.