Randall Looking Forward

 

Randall Looking Forward

Written By: Andrew Owen

The Randall name has a long association with the Subiaco Football Club.  Neil Randall played 152 games for the Lions between 1971 and 1979 and between 1984 and 2012 held roles as a runner, chairman of selectors, Director and President.  His son Ben is the current vice captain of the team and has played 128 games since making his debut in 2003.

However Ben could have easily ended up playing for the Claremont Tigers or the South Fremantle Bulldogs.  The younger Randall played his junior football for the Swanbourne Tigers, which is in the Claremont zone.  His father played 59 of his 211 WAFL games at the Bulldogs which allowed Ben to play there if he chose to.

In the end, while Randall’s mates from Swanbourne went and played colts at Claremont, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and try his luck at Subiaco.

Having a father like Neil, someone who had achieved so much at the Lions, may not have been easy as a young man trying to forge a football career, but Ben was determined to make his own name at the club.  “It was a little bit difficult at the start and I didn’t want people thinking I was getting games or any special treatment because of my name.  This made me more determined to train harder and to prove to people I could get a game on my own merits.”

Randall recalls early on when he thought that he may have been receiving preferential treatment because of his last name.  “I got given the number five jumper that Dad wore in his playing days in one of my first training sessions.  I was a little embarrassed by this as all my mates were getting the high numbers that the first year players usually get.”  The club later explained though that it was a tradition for sons to wear the numbers that their fathers wore during their playing careers.

In his first two season of league football, Ben played a modest seven games.  In 2005 he had a breakout year and played 16 league games and as he explains, the more games he got the more hungry it made him to succeed.  “The more games I played and the older I got, the more experienced I got and it made me more determined to make a name for myself at the football club.”

The 2006 and 2007 seasons are memorable for a lot of Subiaco players, officials and supporters as the club won back to back premierships for the first time since 1912-13.  It was in these two seasons that Randall established himself as a regular in the Lions team, playing 42 of a possible 45 games.  Reflecting on his premiership success, Randall said it was an unbelievable experience to have been a part of.  “Obviously it is one of the biggest highlights of my life to date.  I feel very lucky and privileged to have been part of the success around that era.”

Randall was on a high and his career looked to be going from strength to strength.  Then in 2008 he suffered a serious ankle injury.  This injury did not see him come back into the league team until late in the season.  He played the final two matches of the home and away season and the second semi final against West Perth.  The Lions won that match by 44-points and booked a spot in the grand final.  After a season of hardship it looked to be coming together at the right time.  That was until he got a phone call the morning of the grand final telling him he hadn’t made the team.  “It was probably one of the toughest mornings of my life and I still look back and it is one of the toughest moments I have had to endure.  I understood the decision though and to be honest, I felt like I was pretty lucky to have even played some league games that year because I had some pretty bad ankle problems at the start of the year.”

“I suppose looking back it was pretty disappointing to miss out when we were going for three in a row but I completely understood why the decision was made.”

Randall returned to the field in 2009, playing 12 games including the grand final.  Subiaco though could not make it four consecutive premierships and went down to South Fremantle by 18-points.

Randall played 19 games of league football in 2010; however despite his best efforts the Lions missed the finals for the first time since 1997.

In 2011 he backed this up with a further 18 games as Subiaco went on nine match unbeaten run in the second half of the season to make the grand final, which they ended up losing to Claremont by 56-points.

The last two seasons though have been incredibly tough for Randall as he has only managed to play 11 games of league football.  “I guess the last two and a half years have been a big challenge as I have watched more football than I have actually played.  We have obviously had some tough times over the past couple of years as a playing group and not being able to get out there and help the young boys has been pretty hard.”

One of the more serious injuries in his career and one that has put him out of action occurred in round six this season against South Fremantle.  Randall went up to contest the football, like he has done on numerous occasions throughout his career and when he came down and the pack around the ball cleared he found himself on the ground and in some serious discomfort.  “I snapped both the bones in my lower leg, the tibia and the fibula.”

 

“I just heard two loud snaps and immediately you think the worst.  When I looked down at my leg, I knew straight away what I had done, the shock set in very quickly.”

The good news for Randall and Subiaco fans is that everything is going well.  “I am probably a couple of weeks ahead of schedule.  The surgeon is pretty happy with how it’s progressing.”

“It’s been a rough ten weeks since the injury and I am basically walking fully now and I have started doing some light rehab work with my leg and then some upper body weights.  It’s going as well as it can at the moment.”

With such a serious injury occurring and the length it takes to come back, Randall says the thought of retirement has crossed his mind.  “This latest injury is obviously a pretty serious one and speaking to some players that have had the same injury, it is a long way back.”

“I would hate to think that this would be the end of it, but I do have to see how the rehab and my recovery goes and if there are setbacks along the way I will have to think long and hard about where it’s going to lead me.”

Before Randall hangs up the boots though, a driving factor in his rehabilitation from injury will be that of a significant milestone.  “To play 150 games and become a life member of the Subiaco Football Club has been my goal from day one.  To become a life member would be one of the greatest honours of my playing career.”

“Hopefully with the recovery and my rehab I can get back to full strength and warrant getting selected again and achieve that milestone in the next couple of years.”

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