Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Championships reunite teacher and student

A chance meeting at the NSW Primary School Sports Association Australian Football Championships has reunited Rick van den Driest and Mick Trevaskis after 20 years.

DAMEN FRANCIS July 10, 2014 3:15am

Former Mooroopna High School teacher Rick "Ziggy" van den Driest (left) was reunited with former student Mick Trevaskis (absent) when their sons Callum van den Driest (second from left) and Tom Trevaskis (centre) were picked in a NSW representative football team. Trevaskis' parents Bernie and Joan still live in Mooroopna, while wife Ali (right) lives with Mick and Tom in Sydney.

A remarkable twist of fate has reunited two former Goulburn Valley sportsmen 20 years after their last meeting.

North Sydney’s Tom Trevaskis and Kingscliff’s Callum van den Driest were selected to represent the Polding region at the NSW Primary School Sports Association Australian Football Championships in May.

Trevaskis — a skilful on-baller for Pittwater Tigers in Narrabeen — and van den Driest — an athletic centre half-forward or ruckman for Tweed Coast Tigers — had never met and hailed from different parts of the state.

However, a chance conversation between Trevaskis’ grandfather Bernie and van den Driest’s father Rick about some writing on the back of the latter’s hand revealed an incredible link.

‘‘I said (to Bernie) ‘I know you from somewhere, do I know you from TV or something?’ Because I had nothing,’’ van den Driest said.

‘‘The kids in the team are from all the Catholic schools north of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, so when you’re talking to someone that’s following one of the kids, they could be from anywhere.

‘‘He said he was from Mooroopna and then I introduced myself.’’

As it turned out, Rick ‘‘Ziggy’’ van den Driest taught Bernie’s son and Tom’s father Michael Trevaskis at Mooroopna High School in the late 1980s.

The pair spent the four-day state championships reminiscing about the old days.

Once known as ‘‘The Flying Dutchman’’, van den Driest moved to the region from Melbourne for work in 1986.

He played half-back for Mooroopna and won two premierships at Congupna in 1991 and 1993 before moving away in 1996.

Born and raised in Mooroopna, Trevaskis was a junior at the Cats when van den Driest played there, but went on to play senior football for the Goulburn Valley Football League club and Undera.

He also played in two Cricket Shepparton A-grade premierships for Mooroopna.

Trevaskis attended Notre Dame College until Year 11, when he crossed to Mooroopna High and loved going to school ‘‘because we spent so much time talking football’’.

‘‘He said he wanted to do geography and they didn’t do that at Notre Dame,’’ Trevaskis’ mother Joan said.

‘‘Well, he got to the High and didn’t do geography, he just wanted to go there to be with his mates.’’

That story fit with van den Driest’s recollection of Trevaskis.

‘‘Mick was a cracker at school, he was always smiling, great fun,’’ van den Driest said.

‘‘He was one of those lovable rogues and he could sell ice to the eskimos.

‘‘He’s a very clever man Mick, I taught him everything I know and he learned the rest himself.’’

One of the friends Trevaskis wanted to go to school with was Travis Auld, now chief executive of AFL club Gold Coast Suns, who van den Driest ran into at Carrara Stadium last weekend.

Michael and wife Ali moved to Sydney in 2003, but regularly return to Mooroopna to visit Joan and Bernie, who was general manager at the footy club for three years and co-ordinator of junior football and cricket for 15, and three of Michael’s siblings that still live in the region.

Van den Driest remains close with former teammates such as Xavier Tanner, Pat Storer and Ben Drummond — father of Murray Bushrangers star Nathan — and often returns for premiership reunions at Congupna.

‘‘I like getting back regularly for those reunions, so my liver is shot,’’ he said.

‘‘One night at The Road and it takes me a week to recover.’’

Trevaskis and van den Driest remain involved in football, the former as coach of North Sydney’s under-14 representative team and the latter as junior president and under-12 coach at Tweed Head Tigers.

Their boys were picked in the NSW state team and were at Barooga this week for a three-day training camp ahead of the School Sport Australia 12-and-Under Australian Football Championships in Sydney from July 19 to 26.

The NSW program has produced AFL stars including Wayne Carey, Billy Brownless and Sydney Swans premiership captain Brett Kirk and current skipper Kieran Jack, and Trevaskis and van den Driest have high hopes their boys can make the most of the opportunity.

The Blue Pups take on Northern Territory and Western Australia and could meet Victoria and Shepparton’s Zavier Maher in the next round.

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