‘IS IT special?’
That was the question to Shane O’Sullivan, when quizzed about Michael Voss’ arrival to the Carlton Football Club.
Thirty years ago, O’Sullivan drafted Voss to the Brisbane Bears (which you can read about here), setting in motion one of the great individual careers in the modern game.
In response to the question, O’Sullivan’s answer is almost immediate.
“Oh, yeh. It is so exciting. To now be able to be around and watch him in a coaching role will be really great,” O’Sullivan told Carlton Media.
“At this stage of my career, it’s just great to see someone start out in their career and go on to become the coach of Carlton, which is just fantastic. Particularly as someone who was a Carlton supporter for all of his life as a young boy, before being drafted to Brisbane.
“I know people like Robert Walls and those who follow Carlton that are rapt to see him coaching the Club.”
When it comes to ‘Carlton people’, you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone with more Navy Blue running in their veins than O’Sullivan. Walls, who also happened to be Voss’ first coach at the Bears, would be in the conversation.
As someone who has been dedicated to a life in football, it isn’t often that you’d see someone enter the system as a 17 year old, then go on to become the coach of the football club you’re a Life Member of three decades on.
But that’s what has occurred here with O’Sullivan and Voss. And for the veteran administrator, he’s of the firm belief that Voss has settled in as well as possible.
“He’s got a real presence when he walks into the place,” he said.
“He’s got this contagious laugh that sets him off. You know exactly who it is!
“Those seven years in Adelaide got him on the right path and you can see the way he’s been going about things now. It’s also a really good story, to have a young fella that barracked for the Club end up coaching the team.
“It’s always sad when people leave, but unfortunately in this business everyone has got to move on. It looks like an exciting coaching group that has come in and provided a refresh for the place.”
It hasn’t exactly been the easiest of transitions for Voss, who moved down from South Australia without knowing if he would be successful in his pursuit of the coaching job. As such, he has been unable to reunite with family and enter Adelaide as things stand.
However, witnessing it first-hand, O’Sullivan couldn’t speak highly enough of the way Voss has put that aside and endeared himself to those at the football club: from players, to new coaches, to staff.
He believes it’ll allow everyone to hit the ground running when pre-season resumes on 22 November.
“In a weird sort of way, being stuck in Melbourne may have been a good thing for him in one sense, in terms of being involved with the Club,” he said.
“The way he has got around everyone, he’s been able to get to know a big percentage of the players. When he walks into the first team meeting, he’s not looking at people he doesn’t really know or vice versa.
“He’s already walked the park with a lot of them, had a kick and been in the gym with them. It’s a good start for him to understand what they’re all about.”
As preparations ramp up ahead of the summer with an eye to the 2022 season, O’Sullivan will be sure to cast a keen eye over the training track of IKON Park and observe Michael Voss, the coach.
There’s also the small matter of someone else that O’Sullivan recruited in his own right: Aaron Hamill. But that’s a story for another day.