Jimmy Munro’s journey in football has been rocky. Through utter perseverance, hard work and the support of his family, friends and the Casey Scorpions, the Berwick native can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. NICK CREELY reports.
DON’T leave any stone unturned.
Give everything a crack.
These are the words that Jimmy Munro lives by.
Sitting on the grandstand of the picturesque VFL ground in Cranbourne, in which the Casey Scorpions made their home just 10 years ago, shifting away from their Springvale roots, Munro recounted his journey in football, the culture of his football club and how his up-bringing and appetite to work hard have shaped his outlook on life.
“It’s a pretty special place to be honest, Casey Scorpions, and a special place to come, too.
“All the boys just want to be here and we have spent a lot of time together as a group.
“There’s just something so special about this place, it’s just a pure footy club.
“Living in this area means a lot to me, and Casey Scorpions was created for blokes like myself who live locally to aspire to play high level footy.
“Not every bloke in the Casey area is going to be able to play AFL football, so this competition is the next best thing and growing up in Casey, which has a really rich heritage of sport in general, has been fantastic
“This club gives young guys the opportunity to aspire for something and work hard,” Munro said.
Munro’s journey in football has been less than conventional.
One of the biggest decisions of his sporting life was to defy doubters and make the switch from hockey, a sport he was supremely talented at.
It was a decision he does not regret.
“Football has definitely been a different journey for me,” Munro said.
“I think the ability to shift from hockey to footy at 18 was a really big call, and a lot of people thought it was unrealistic to go into play TAC Cup after five or six seasons, but I really wanted to do it and I saw blokes playing AFL footy and I just thought there’s no reason I couldn’t do that.
“I tried to get a gig with the Dandenong Stingrays but it didn’t eventuate.
“I rang Eastern Rangers and Gippsland Power as well but they weren’t interested in me, to be honest.
“It was probably because I was going for a 19-year-old spot and hockey’s just a different type of sport but I’m not overly sure what the reasoning really was.
“I’m great mates with Chris Mangoni and he was the captain down at Sandy and he put in a word for me and they let me come down for a few sessions and they luckily kept me on.
From there, Munro blossomed, playing with the Sandringham Dragons in the TAC Cup, before going on to play with Sandringham VFL side for 22 games.
But certain aspects of Munro’s life early days, shaped his outlook on how he approaches his life and his football to this day.
“The biggest thing that shaped my life was towards the end of Year 10.
“I was really struggling at school and not doing overly well and I remember being pulled into the office and being told essentially how it was and that I should consider going down the path of VCAL.
“I thought to myself, there’s no way I want to do that.
“All my mates were planning to do VCE and I felt almost embarrassed that they felt I wasn’t capable of doing it.
“I just didn’t work hard enough, so it was a really turning point for me being told that unless I pulled my finger out that I wouldn’t be able to do VCE.
“I decided that from that moment on, I’d sit up the front by myself, really knuckle down and put myself in a good position, and luckily I did really well.
“This translated to all areas of my life, notably footy as well, so it was a big lesson and a wake-up call in working harder and not just assuming things would happen,” Munro said.
He said he was raised in a conventional sport loving household in Berwick and praised the support of his family members and the values they have instilled in him.
“I’m a Berwick boy, born and raised into a family of six.
“We had a pretty busy household growing up, sport was obviously a huge part of my life, whether it be cross-country, athletics, cricket and, obviously, hockey.
“My biggest influence and biggest fan is my old man, David, he’s just such a great bloke and just goes above and beyond for me.
“I was chatting to him only recently about when I was a junior down at Beaconsfield and we would go down to the park all the time and have a kick and when it was cricket season we’d have a hit, and I’m really thankful to him.
“My mum and my sister have especially done a lot for me, and mum obviously does a lot of cooking for me, and you can’t play VFL football without good food.
“I’ll also give a shout-out to my girlfriend Shelby as well,” he said.
“She has been super and a constant support.
Only recently at Casey Scorpion’s Best and Fairest awards, Munro was rewarded with one of the highest honours in the club, The Trademarks and Values Award, a prestigious award which is not lost on the humble footballer.
“It’s pretty special to win that award, to be honest, to be recognised for performing quite well on the field but being seen as a good club-man is an honour,” Munro said.
“It’s certainly got some great history, this award, and it does show that internally you are rated highly by the club both on-field and off-field.
Harbouring aspirations to possibly be given an opportunity at AFL level, Jimmy believes his values, attributes and appetite to compete hard would hold him in good stead if given the opportunity.
“I don’t see any reason to think, if put into an AFL system, that I couldn’t excel, it’s just about being given the opportunity, I guess,” he said.
“I also think my running ability is at AFL standard and have shown over the last few years that I have a fair tank on me.
“It takes a lot of effort from everyone to push a player to an AFL list, and if it happens for me I’d be grateful.”
But if the opportunity has passed him by, Munro is content he gave it his all, and has set himself up for a long working life.
“I’m studying to be a paramedic at Monash, working at Casey Arc and Endeavour Hills YMCA to get by and pay the bills.
“I’m under no illusions there is more to life than football, but I want to give it a crack and if I don’t succeed, I know I gave it my all,” he said.
But Munro is now a Scorpion at heart and through hard-work and a strong set of family values has found fulfilment in life and in football.