Game for a challenge

Darren and Molly Harris with Jeff Gieschen.
Darren and Molly Harris with Jeff Gieschen.

Brought over from Victoria to lift the cellar dwellers in what would be their last two years at Leederville Oval, the Falcons had made a bad start to the 1992 season.

‘We won our first game against East Perth probably on adrenalin,’ Gieschen said as guest of the Falcons before the WA Day Derby at Arena Joondalup.

‘Then we lost four or five games; we didn’t lose them ” we got smashed.

‘Club president Tom James and general manager Steve Woodhouse came around to see me and made it clear unless we improved, I was going to be shown the door.

‘I hadn’t travelled 4000km, I hadn’t uprooted three children, I hadn’t given away a great coaching job at Wodonga and a great teaching job in Wodonga to come here and fail.

‘So I said to Tommy and Steve: ‘I need more time, you’ve just got to give me a bit more time’.

‘I think being a young coach, I was probably too easy on the players.

‘I wanted to get the players’ respect probably through a little bit of friendship and encouragement rather than doing it really hard.’

So when the club hierarchy left his home, Gieschen turned to his wife, as he had when he had applied for the job he thought was out of his reach.

‘I sat down with my wife and said, ‘we’ve got to do something pretty quick’,’ he said.

‘I made a decision that night that we were going to train every day for the next two weeks. It was now all or nothing.’

He told the players no stone would be left unturned in their effort to improve. They would be ‘either with me or not with me’. Three found the going ‘too hard’ and left. Gieschen thanked them for their services.

He realised if he was going to train the squad hard he would have to ease off towards the end of the week so the team was not spent by the weekend.

The first big litmus test under the new approach came at the WACA Ground against Claremont, a side who had thrashed the Falcons by 20 goals the previous season.

‘We won by 27 points’season.

‘Though we finished bottom that year, we were on the way’