Greg Liddell can’t help it, can’t stop the tears welling in the corners of his eyes.
Whenever he picks up that photo of him and his three sons celebrating two flags at the Seymour Lions it has the same effect.
Because for Liddell — Seymour’s first inductee to the Goulburn Valley League’s hall of fame — two of the most important things in life are family and football.
Having finally hung up his own boots in the early 1990s (when he was just 42) Liddell turned his attention to helping the development of sons Damian, Brendan and Gerard.
The photograph shows a moment of elation that capped years of playing together, and for Greg, who spent a large part of his life teaching physical education at Seymour Tech, this would be something to cherish.
Damian played in Seymour’s reserves side, which came from behind to defeat Euroa by 21 points that day.
Brendan and Gerard were a part of the back-to-back senior premiership-winning outfit, which had just knocked off Benalla by 31 points.
‘‘I’m a pretty sour and dour sort of bloke — I think it comes with teaching,’’ Liddell said.
‘‘People always tell me to smile more ... but I’ve got a big smile in that photo, because I was just so proud of them and happy they got to experience something I’d enjoyed as a player myself.
‘‘Seeing your own kids play footy is just something else,’’ he said.
‘‘We had a house in Delatite Rd and I bought a vacant block next door and planted trees for goal posts and point posts at one end ... so we played footy up and down that. My kids didn’t go to AusKick because they played enough footy at home.
“I’ve just loved all my time in footy — I’ve been extremely lucky. When I stopped playing I told my wife I’d walk away from football, but that never happened.’’
As a dashing rover recruited by then-president Jim Ure just in time for one of Seymour’s golden eras, Liddell racked up possessions in the midfield on his way to three flags and 276 games for the Lions.
After a dominant stint with Kilmore, he had joined the Lions in 1976 — the club’s first year in the GVL since 1947 having made five appeals in five years to rejoin from the Warangah North East League.
The powers that be demanded Seymour win the flag in Warangah NE before gaining entry to the GVL — so in 1975 they did.
Paving the way for Ron Grattan-coached Lions to win their first GVL flag against Echuca in 1976.
‘‘It was unreal,” Liddell said. ‘‘We sort of came from the clouds a bit with a good run at the back-end of the season.’’
While Seymour played a losing grand final in 1978, Liddell brought glory to the club that year by taking home the Morrison medal — the GVL’s highest individual accolade.
Part of Liddell’s own success, he said, was getting to line up at the centre bounce alongside the likes of his good mate Robert ‘Biggles’ Brown, Alistair ‘Nugget’ Greenshields, John Counsel, and Jon Solomon.
‘‘I was spoilt to play with such great ruckmen who got their hand on it first and fed it down to me,’’ he said.
Liddell would play in another losing grand final for the Lions in 1979 before again tasting success with premierships in 1981, coached by Glen Elliott, and 1982, coached by Ian Shelton.
And it was Seymour’s 49-point win against Shepparton Swans at Deakin Reserve in 1981, Liddell said, that he treasured most out of the three flags.
‘‘I love them all ... but I’d have to say the 1981 grand final meant more to me,’’ he said.
‘‘In 1976 I was in my first year and perhaps a bit complacent. It wasn’t a matter of taking it for granted — I celebrated and loved it. But after losing ’78 and ’79, the 1981 win came as a huge relief.’’
But there’s one other memory from all his years with the Seymour Lions Liddell said he will never forget — a high-flying mark Saad Saad took in the 2005 grand final against Euroa at Deakin Reserve.
‘‘I was sitting in the grandstand and the next minute everyone in the crowd around me was standing on their feet, because he’s standing on this bloke’s shoulders,’’ Liddell said.
‘‘Saad Saad took this hanger that was out of this world and then he’s about 35-40m back and just did the worst kick for goal — but that mark was just something that had to be seen to be believed and that euphoria the game can give you is something I’ll always remember.’’