Humans of MUSC: Harry Gill

In this edition of Humans of MUSC, we speak to beloved MUSC Life Member and Bohemians’ stalwart, Harry Gill! Find out more about this club legend and his many years in the MUSC family, culminating in his very own club award (the Harry Gill Medal), and on the pitch, some 198 goals and 700+ caps to date!

Can you introduce yourself please:

My name is Harry Gill and I have been at the club… like… forever. I have variously been player, coach, committee member, president, organiser of Melbourne intervarsity in 1982, sponsor and ardent spectator of MUSC. I am very proud of the fact that I started in 1978 and am still going now, whatever year we are in.

2019 Harry Gill Medallist Marco Palacio 🏅with Harry Gill himself. MUSC’s ‘Harry Gill Medal’ recognises a club person who has made a significant contribution to the success of MUSC in the last year, whilst promoting and upholding the culture of the club.

Why did you choose to play at the Melbourne University Soccer Club?

I was living at a residential college at Melbourne University in my first year at Uni, was crazy about playing football and was only a couple of hundred meters away from our old home ground at the southern end of Princes Park. I sauntered over one Saturday after hearing that the Uni had a team that played there, taking my boots just in case (they went everywhere in those days). Someone was missing so I played in the Reserve team. We drew 1-1 against Clayton and I scored a goal whilst playing under a false name. It wasn’t hard to join after that although I had a couple of seasons off to enjoy the delights of college and playing footy, tennis and a variety of other sports I enjoyed. I became fully engaged from 1981 and realised especially after intervarsity that year what a great community the club was. It has been for me ever since.

What do you feel are the main benefits of playing at MUSC?

I love the Beautiful Game, I could write an essay on why. I have kind of written an essay on my love affair with MUSC, a short history of the Uniblues from 1981 to 1996 entitled Blues in Time. My summary on why is best summarised in my concluding remarks to that little piece, here it is. Sporting Clubs often enjoy a strong sense of camaraderie.  We have always outstripped others in sharing the joy of victory, the pain of loss, the companionship that extends well beyond the game, the entertainment and the philosophy.  We are a self-run Club, in a short community.  As the Club enters a watershed period, with numerous older players retiring and younger ones taking over, may the tradition continue. Thanks to all the team mates, coaches, late night philosophers at Naughton’s, indefatigable golfers, weary card players, tourists to Vietnam, Corowa and the eight Intervarsities, girlfriends and wives for making the Club a family and a home for the last 17 years.  And especially to two great friends and sources of inspiration, Tony Clayworth and Andy Kennedy.

Harry in action at the MUSC derby at Princes Park

Has there been a favourite season at MUSC, and if so, why?

Weirdly, having played 17 seasons and 329 games for the seniors, my favourite season was probably my third one after being dropped to the Reserves, namely 2001. I was in my early 40s and had taken on the mantle of assistant coach to my good friend, Quinny, and captained that Uniblues team to our first Reserves championship in 12 years. We went on to win 4 championships (and were runner up twice) in 6 seasons and played some great football. The first championship will always stand out because… it was the first one. Being able to play a central role in that team in a variety of positions but also moulding the way the team played was very satisfying indeed. It was also a very social time for the Uni Blues and my life at that point was better than anyone deserves to live.

The club’s event invitation for Harry’s 700th game including photos through the years of the man in action.

What about your current involvement in the soccer club?

I am nowadays wheeled out for a 15 to 45 minute cameo with the Bohemians but I am loving being involved with that team and still banging in the odd goal. This is the over 35s team I started a few years ago because I knew so many ex-players who were unable to train due to family commitments but I knew could still play decent football. Our ‘no training but make sure you get fit’ philosophy seems to work well with this bunch of reprobates with special needs.

Has there been a standout coach at MUSC? (and) the best player you have played alongside at MUSC?

This is the same person, my good friend, Tony Clayworth. He was outstanding, not only in scoring 25 goals in a season, but later coming back to the Uniblues after a spell in the National League (as it then was), extremely fit and an outstanding player who won 4 club best and fairests (now the Clayworth Medal) and also a league best and fairest. After being struck down by injury in his late 20s, Tony coached the seniors and taught me a great deal about the game, such that I have no doubt I played my best football in my early 30s. A close second in the coaching stakes was the one year I had under another astute thinker of the game, another great friend, Andy Kennedy.

Besides sports, do you have any other hobbies or passions?

Apart from my legal career, I seem to be known for my love of cafes, bars, a little tipple and a lot of parties. Whilst undoubtedly true, the bigger part of me is probably my informal study of history, philosophy, science and anything else that is very big. I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts and feel quite enriched by these things. I also play a little golf, recently very poorly, and do a fair bit of travel very well.

Harry (centre) at the 75 years MUSC anniversary event

What has been your most memorable goal during your time at MUSC?

Can I start with probably my worse goal? The senior team was playing away to Cranbourne on what was an awful pitch sometime in the 1980s. I got the ball in midfield and looked up from about 30 meters out and saw a chance for glory. I gave it a crack, totally stuffed it up, turned away in disgust as the ball rolled towards the keeper, then was suddenly mobbed by team mates. It turned out the ball hit a divot right in front of the keeper and bounced over him. I currently count 198 league and cup goals (divots or not) at all levels for the club so there is a bit to choose from. I would probably say the best one, at least the most satisfying, was in the late 1990s in a Uniblues/Rangers Derby, some very hard fought games for supremacy within the club. Sean Tobin (yes, brother of a former Australian captain) swung in a corner, I raced to the near post,  jumped high and absolutely crashed a header over the defender’s head into the top corner from just inside the box. Goals against the Rangers were always sweet but it was good to hear Lazar (the Defender) later tell me that he was right under it but had no time to react.

At his 700th game: tearing through the banner that read “Congratulations Harry Gill; 700 Games You Legend!”

What is your secret talent that no one knows about?

Humility. The universe is very big.

What are you most excited about for this season?

Playing another game, which might again be my last. Also, the camaraderie between the brilliant bunch of guys that is the Bohemians and still being entangled in the MUSC love affair.

Thanks for chatting with us, Harry! MUSC is very lucky to have had you in all your varied roles at the club through the years, and we thank you and Robinson Gill Lawyers for your continued support and love for the MUSC community.

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