George Zaharakis

Name: George Zaharakis
Nickname: Zach
D.O.B. 22/10/1966
Games 1985 U19s: 13
Jumper no. 44
Height: 177cm
Weight: 70kg
Goals: 1
Coach: Geoff Southby
Assistant Coach: David McKay

Our thanks go to George who so generously provides an amazing insight into the life of an Under 19s player at Carlton in the 1980s, the following words are his describing his time at the Blues.

Living a stones throw from Princess Park, I grew up a Carlton supporter. I can recall playing in the backyard kicking the football and hearing the crowd cheering from the ground and pretending they were cheering me.

I played junior football for my school University High School and Brunswick FC U/18’s in the VFA.
I can recall my first training session. I was nervous as hell. Luckily there was a few of us there from University High School which made it somewhat less daunting having some familiar faces around.

With about 60/70 players at the first session it was going to be a tough pre season. My first goal was to make the pre season camp. If you made that list you were almost certain to be around for the season. It was pure relief when my name was called to go on the camp. I think it was to Pt. Lonsdale. It was a gruelling couple of days of running, football drills and practice matches. I loved every minute of it. After the camp we played a number of practice games against other VFL U/19’s teams. I played well in those games in the back pocket.

A few of us U/19’s were selected to play in a senior and reserves intraclub practice match in Frankston, from memory. What a thrill that was to play along side players I’d idolised growing up.

I played all my games in the back pocket in 1985. I suffered a torn hamstring early in the season, when the U/19’s played against St.Kilda in a curtain raiser at Moorabbin. I missed 3 weeks and was concerned that I would struggle to make it back into the team. Fortunately, I made it straight back into the team. I manage to string a number games together just suffering a couple of concussions and minor injuries along the way. The biggest blow was an injury I suffered at training on a Thursday night. We were playing Geelong that Saturday at Kardinia Park. It was getting towards the end of training and I went to kick the ball and snapped my right quad muscle. The trainers ran out to me because they reckon they heard the snap from the side lines. I was in the rooms receiving treatment when Roger Skein, the team manager came in and ask how I was. I said I was pretty sore. He said we’re going to name you in the team, but start you on the bench and only use you if necessary.

Come the Saturday my quad was not much better. I struggled through the warm up making sure I didn’t do anything to aggravate the injury. Thankfully we had an easy win that day and I wasn’t required to go on.

My rehab continued and I had missed most of the second half of the season. I was getting eager to get back into full training because it looked likely we would make finals. Unfortunately for me I did the same quad muscle again at training. That was the end of the season for me. The team went on to play finals but lost to Hawthorn in the 1st semi final.

In the end of season review with Geoff Southby and David McKay, they broke the bad news to me that because I hadn’t played enough games they couldn’t recommend that I continue at Carlton. They wanted me to go back to Brunswick VFA were they would follow my progress and perhaps give me another chance. I ended up missing all of the 1986 season because of my quad injury. Eventually my quad did come good and I continued playing country footy in Bendigo and Ballarat.

1985 was the highlight of my football career.

Playing for Carlton was a childhood dream. Even if it was only in the U/19’s.

Contributors to this page: Bombasheldon and Jarusa .
Page last modified on Saturday 20 of November, 2021 10:40:32 AEDT by Bombasheldon.

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