Beau Hendry is the leader you would want in the trenches with you. He is loyal, tough and gives his all to his beloved Pines Football Club.
He was never going to play anywhere else after his dad, league legend Gordon Handry, played 323 senior games and over 500 matches with the Pythons before retiring at the ripe old age of 50 in the middle of 2018.
“I first played with the Pines in the under 9s in 1995 and was never going anywhere else even though I went to Karingal High School and all my mates played at Karingal,” Beau says.
Beau’s first senior game was in 2006 with his father Gordon and they played 70 more senior games together after that. “We took on Seaford, who was a powerhouse then, and my job was to try and restrict big Michael Kraska and Dad helped me. That was a thrill, but we didn’t win the game.”
Gordon Hendry played in a successful era at the Pines in the ’90s where they made four Grand finals, but only won one in 1994. However, the first half of Beau’s senior career was unsuccessful on the field. “We had three years in particular where we hardly won a game. We were just a bunch of young kids.”
One of the coaches during this difficult period, Paddy Swayn, was having his first stint as senior coach and is now one of the most respected coaches in the competition. “Being new to the caper, Paddy was a bit too structured at the time. It was almost like going back to school. We were forced to do plenty of writing about the game and the opposition. It didn’t work, but he went away to Somerville and then Frankston as an assistant, before returning to Pines in 2015 and by then he was an experienced coach.”
“His strength now is his communication and that everyone understands what he is trying to do. He is such a selfless person and has done so much for the club in breaking the premiership drought of 24 years in 2018.”
Beau says that his father offered plenty of support and advice on how to play whenever Beau asked for it.“I knew when I had a shocker… he would give me the look.” He says with a chuckle.
Only once in his long career, which is approaching 250 games, did Beau Hendry consider leaving for another club. “Leongatha in the Latrobe Valley League was keen around 2011 when I worked at the Desalination plant in Wonthaggi. They offered 800 a game, but even though we (Pines) were struggling, I was happy to stay with the boys.” Beau Said
Beau remembers fondly his brother Guy’s senior debut. “Dad played as well. We had a few injuries and he came back into the seniors for the first time for a while and played one game with Guy and I. That was great.”
Beau believes the club changed and started having on-field success on a regular basis when Paddy Swayn returned for his second crack at coaching the Pythons. “I remember before he took on the job, he met with the leadership group and put it on us that we had to help lead from the front to rise up the ladder and hopefully become a powerhouse again.”
Swayn had a 4-year plan, which would hopefully culminate in a premiership by 2018, and that goal was realized. Beau remembers it was all about building to taste the ultimate prize. “The aim was to make the finals in the first year in 2015, which we did, win a final in 2016, which we ticked off and make the Grand Final at least in 2017.”
The Pines fell short of that mark in 2017, but Beau felt that the team was ready to perform well in the new divisional structure in the MPNFL in 2018.
“Our recruiting had been good in recent years getting ‘Chewy’ (Paul Scanlon) and Bongo (Tim Bongetti) from the Northern League, Luke Potts returned from Frankston in 2015, but our biggest recruit was former AFL player, Aaron Edwards, who played 94 games with West Coast, North Melbourne and Richmond.”
“He’s a star, Azza (Edwards) and made us better and more professional straight away from when he joined in 2015. It was the best thing to happen to the club to get him. He is really good at teaching and mentoring players.” Hendry says proudly.
Pines began 2018 slowly with a loss to Seaford, who were relegated later in the season. Beau remembers saying, “It didn’t pan out well early being beaten by Seaford, who struggled all season. We then got smacked by the Frankston Bombers.”
During the early rounds when Finals were looking doubtful, Pines pulled a major recruiting coup off the field, when they landed former North Melbourne Premiership player and Coach, Dean Laidley, who was coming in to assist Paddy Swayn for a few weeks initially.
“Dean was only going to come in for a few weeks, but he fell in love with the joint and stayed for the rest of the season. He was fantastic and helped us to start believing in ourselves.”
Laidley also used a few old tricks of AFL premiership coaches including Denis Pagan who coached him to the ’96 flag. Hendry believes this tactic was another turning point. “He got hold of our last senior premiership cup back in 1994 and instructed it to be passed around to all the players and get them thinking what it would be like to hold one that we had contributed to.”
‘It’s tough what he’s going through at the moment, but the whole club including myself wish him the best.”
The Pines suffered another close loss in the middle of the season at home to Edithvale Aspendale after kicking poorly in front of goal, but the signs were good, they were improving and becoming a legitimate finals contender.
Hendry is convinced the on-field turnaround occurred after the bye. “On that Saturday we did not play, we trained and were sharp, there were so many on the track. The next Saturday, we took on the Bombers and did to them at home what they did to us at their ground early in the season.”
The Pines did not lose for the rest of the season after their confidence grew. They beat Sorrento at Sorrento in an outstanding match where they dominated the first half only for the Sharks to storm home and just fall short. New recruit Python Tom McDermott kicked 5.
Beau is convinced getting over the line that day saw the confidence and self believe rise to a new level. “There was this togetherness we felt and bond that was so tight.”
“Many of the Older guys such as myself, Guy, Bongo, Chewy, Azza, and Jack Fisher with our partners rented a house at Sorrento that weekend. We had a great time.” Beau said.
The team was travelling so well that when one of their best players, Luke Potts returned from a midseason overseas trip for the last few games, he was forced to gain match fitness by playing in the reserves.
Beau says he wasn’t happy about it. “Pottsy was dirty that he had to return through the twos, but we explained that we had been going well while he was away and it was all about the team. He had about 50 touches and returned to the seniors quickly.”
Pines won the qualifying final and in a controversial and at times spiteful game, beat Sorrento in the Preliminary final, which has been described by some as ‘stompgate’.
Hendry is accused and was subsequently reported for stomping on Sorrento playing coach Luke Tapscott’s face.
Beau takes up the story. “The first I heard about maybe being in trouble was when Paddy approached me and said Tappy has a cut under his eye, Did you do something to him? I said there may have been contact, but I didn’t remember ever stomping him.” However, a replay shown to people seemed to indicate otherwise.
Sorrento beat Mt Eliza in the Preliminary final. Beau and his teammates were there where his brother Guy had a crack at Sorrento forward Leigh Poholke as he walked into the Sharks huddle at one of the changes.
“Guy has a mouth on him, which can be a good thing and a bad thing. He called Sorrento a pack of Dogs as he knew I was heading to the Tribunal. Poholke being Poholke reacted, but in reality, it was all in good fun.”
However, it was not good fun on Wednesday at the Tribunal. Beau was suspended for 2 weeks. “Dad came with me for support and we were both emotional in the car. Many people don’t realise that Gordo is a big softy, even though he could be intimidating on the field. Mum is the one we are scared of, Guy and I call her mad dog, but no one else is allowed to.”
“She is totally different around my kids Indi, aged 6 and Brock, aged 5. She even irons Brock’s underpants so he is nice and warm.” Beau Laughs. He adds that Indi is the apple of Gordo’s eye. “The old man certainly spoils her. He also hopes Brock will play with the Pines one day.”
Beau loves helping with the Auskick program at the Club. On top of that, Hendry loves to fish have a couple of frothies with mates and spend time with his family. This includes the love of his life, Carla, who has been fantastic for him, but he admits he is batting way out of his league with.
He is though more circumspect when talking about the Thursday night training before the Grand final. The club was going to appeal the Tribunal verdict.
“It was great they did that despite it costing five and a half thousand dollars, but in the end, the club did not have to pay the fine as the supporters set up a go fund me page and raised ten thousand dollars. That meant so much to me.” The skipper said with emotion in his voice.
“The Thursday night training session was tough. I trained but was flat on the inside, I tried to be upbeat in front of everyone, however.” Beau Said.
“Paddy told me I would not be selected at this stage and picked young Liam Cox. That was hard to take when the team was announced in front of so many people. I then had to do my hot seat segment and make people laugh and dish out fines such as making people wax their backside… or words to that effect.”
Many teammates turned up for the appeal on Friday night, which Beau says was great. His advocate, legendary VFL and AFL Tribunal advocate Ian “Fingers” Findlay.
“I was disappointed with the evidence Tapscott gave at the initial hearing on Wednesday. I reckon he lied as he said he had a concussion and left the ground straight away after the incident, but that was not the case. Tapscott also claimed he was unable to leave a dark room all that week as the brightness hurt his eyes, but he still played in the preliminary final against Mt Eliza.”
When asked if he was nervous heading into the appeal, Beau gave a typical Beau Hendry answer, “I was packing myself, although Fingers already knew I was going to get off on a technicality, which I did.”
“I got stuck into him in no uncertain terms, but he told me he had seen the paperwork and has been reported on GameFace many times, the League said the charge was intentionally stomping, but the report document said kicking, so I was free to play.”
Beau left the room and embraced his teammates and then went out for dinner, without the beers. With the team more confident than ever, they could win their first flag for 24 years with their captain and enforcer at their side.
History will tell us it was one of the best local footy matches ever played, with Pines winning with a kick after the siren from Aaron Ludwig. The larrikin side we all love of Beau Hendry was evident in the big dance. In the second quarter when he tackled Tapscott from behind and playfully made the stomping action towards Tapscott’s head. “I love mucking and joking around,” Beau says with a smile.
Beau says if Aaron didn’t score either a behind or goal, he was unsure how much petrol he had in the tank. “He just had to score. Many of us were cooked and we knew we would have to go to extra time, so it was going to be tough to keep playing.” However, Ludwig scored and Pines began the biggest party of their lives. “I was so happy for everyone. It was a great feeling. We had worked so hard for it.
Beau says he is the most successful player in his family and brags about it. “I have won 2 best and fairests and captained a premiership team. Dad and Guy have only played in a premiership and one only one best and fairest each.”
He has no plans to retire anytime soon and would love to break Gordo’s senior record of 323 games. “I want to keep playing for as long as I can, and when I can’t get a game in the seniors anymore, I will help out the Twos. I’ve been lucky with injuries as well, with just one serious one, a broken vertebrae, where I missed 8 weeks, so touch wood, the injuries keep staying away.”
Beau says 2019 was a lost opportunity losing both finals to bow out in straight sets, His blood still boils when talking about that shot at goal he had in the qualifying final against Dromana to extend his team’s lead late in the last quarter.
“The ball was taken off us as the boundary umpire said he heard, but did not see, Azza hit an opponent,” Beau said. “He was sent off. They got a free-kick and took the ball up the other end and kicked a goal which won them the game”.
“And to make matters worse, Aaron was reported but the charge was thrown out and league umpiring officials admitted the next day that the ball should not have been taken off us.” Beau muses with a tinge of resignation.
The next week they took on Bonbeach in a cut-throat semi. ‘’We started well as I kicked a goal and I thought that we were on, but Mitch Gent dominated for Bonbeach and they were too good.”
He still hopes the MPNFL can have some sort of season and is now down at training and enjoying being back with the boys. Whatever happens this year and beyond, expect Beau Hendry to be giving more than 100% for the Pines cause.