Sam McKenzie has played 100 games out of a possible 103. Let that sink in for a moment. At a Club such as ours - when it is natural for players to come and go with the seasons, as the University lifestyle inherently has that element of unpredictable weeks and conflicting life schedules - it is remarkable that Sam since coming down to the Uni Main in 2015 to play Under 19s, has rarely missed a beat.
Despite some of those Under 19s games being best suited to players with short-term memory loss, the clear fact that Sam decided to focus on the enjoyment factor with his teammates first and foremost speaks volumes of his character. He is a friendly young man that you can tell cares deeply about our special Club. Being able to recognise the extremely unique and special culture at the Blacks in his earlier years has paid dividends to Sam, and the Club is all the better for it too with Sam sticking around.
Camperdown born and bred, Sam went to boarding school at Ballarat Grammar, before setting up his inner-northern base at Queens College. There, he was joined by close friend and current Reserves Co-Captain, Tom "Nugget" Cousins. Nugget and Snags are a great duet, pulling off 'one of the all-time Blackspot seasons in 2018', really channeling the original 'odd couple' vibes at the Clyde. As Nugget describes, with his 'quick wit and affable nature' it was only a matter of time before he took a turn behind the mic, and in keeping with his consistent theme, probably never missed hosting any of the 18 rounds.
Having played well over 50 games together, the Snags-Nugget combination can also often be found behind the bar at the Pavvy, as those two plus Hack & Harv have surely stumped up more shifts than most. Again, his consistency is remarkable. Although, was it Snags' or Nugget's idea to spend one entire shift serving people and taking their money with a set of tongs though?
We will never know, but being able to do your role well, whilst mixing in some mischief and fun in the process, is perhaps the key to remaining consistent and feeling refreshed enough to enjoy the environment every week. That in of itself is a valuable lesson that everyone can reflect on, one that this writer definitely has whilst writing this.
Nevertheless, Snags has almost certainly reached the 100 game milestone with some sort of "ironman streak" pace, but the real value in Snags consistency each week and each season, is just that; his value to the team. Whether it be his value to move around the ground, from ruckman, to centre half-forward, to key defender, or his tremendous off-field value in that he is a friend to all at the Club; a genuine and thoughtful teammate that you love to bump into before training to have a chat with (whether it be something from the weekend, or the latest NBA or F1 news, Snags is usually across it). Snags is now a bonafide 1s player, after gradually rising through the ranks, showcasing his value to the team.
His growth as a person in his time at the Blacks has too been a highlight to watch, as he has transitioned from young College critter, to post-Law graduate with great distinction. It is fantastic to see him flourishing in his career, even if it has made him late to a rare training or two, much to Snags' chagrin.
Good luck this weekend Snags, and to our readers, please enjoy this special insight into the great man, courtesy of our great Q and A questions!
How did you end up at the Club?
As a new student at Queens College, I followed the crowd in my first week down to University Main for football training. Unfortunately, at the time the trend at Queens was to play for the Uni Blues, so my first session at the Main was with the Blues. That night I received a phone call from Angus Drysdale (who at the time was living with my brother). Angus suggest in no uncertain terms that I re-evaluate my decision. The next night for training I went down the Blacks U/19s with Tom Cousins and haven’t left since.
Any standout/strange memories from Under 19s?
A fair few losses. A particularly bad day, I had 12 kicked on me as we lost to Scotch by 200+, after beating Scotch at Crawford Oval earlier in the year. As most full backs would attest to, the lack of pressure from our mids was the predominant reason.
Overall I won 4 games in 2 years, but had a great time with a lot of boys in their first couple years out of school. Footy was very much secondary.
Favourite player to watch when growing up?
James Hird or Scotty Lucas. Hird was very elegant and had a great sense of the moment and Lucas was from my home town and his lack of handballing/booming left foot combination made for great viewing.
Who has had the most influence on your career?
Probably family as a whole. Mum and Dad have clocked up a lot of Ks coming to watch and taking me to games/training. And siblings aren’t shy in letting me know when I’ve played poorly – so that’s always good motivation.
Thriftiest/biggest tightarse at the Club?
The bloke who runs the bar. Rarely allows for any free drinks.
Favourite subject at high school?
I quite liked most of them. As always P.E. is hard to go past, but for the others probably Year 12 Accounting was the pick.
Far too many to name. A lot of great teammates, be it great players or characters around the club. A couple that come to mind are Tom Cousins and Jordan Qualie. Cuz is very chirpy and a quality Blackspot co-host. And Quaile is gun, who is my favourite to watch.
Any interesting pre game routines?
Nothing really, although I like to be outside warming up/ watching the game on beforehand, as opposed to in the rooms.
If you could teleport anywhere in the world right now and holiday for a week covid free, where would it be?
I know the F1 is in Monaco this weekend, so maybe go there and hang out with some fat cats and try to get an invite on to their yacht.
Last book you read?
Read a few for work, which aren’t too interesting, but I think leisurely I read ‘The Dry’ a while ago, which was very good.
Last but not least, favourite blacks memory, on or off the field.
On the field I think beating Beaumaris at the Main in the 2s in 2018 in the pride match. They were a team that seemed to always have our number and came into the game as clear favourites. Ended up winning by 5+ goals to lock in top 2. Granted the finals didn’t go quite to script against Beaumaris, but this was a very good win against a quality opposition on a big stage.
Off the field, probably Doomben races on 2017 footy trip. Pete Aitken lead the PC to a memorable fightback, landing about 5-6 winners in a row. Both me and my bank account greatly appreciated this.