88 Games (87S, 1R)
62 Goals (62S)

2001 Coaches Award (Harry Leigh Award)
2003 R&UP Seniors B&F (Brian Hannebery Trophy)
2001-2003 Seniors DVC
2004 Seniors VC

In the late 90s, early 2000s, as the production line from St Joseph’s was grinding to a halt, North Old Boys recruiting focus changed, it simply had to.

Peter O’Farrell was the chief prospector at the time.  He was also coaching Newman College, and he ensured his charges were aware of the purple & white mob in Brunswick, selling the dream in his own distinct way.  His pitch worked, striking gold as he enticed a number of Newman College boys to the Gillon.  One of them was Timboon royalty in Nick Vogels.

Voges joined the club from Uni Blues in 2000, buying the dream and with more confidence he’d be given a chance to settle in and play firsts in a B-Grade side than Blues who were in A-Grade at the time.  He was a talented junior, winning an u19 Section 1 League B&F with Blues, and such was the faith in him, he was given the no 6 jumper at NOBs, previously worn by the likes of Mauro Borcich & Stephen Moloney, absolute greats of the club.

Frank Dunell was his first coach, and his first year he mixed time between the back-flank (Nick was a pioneer in the zoning off tactic as a backman….) and on-ball.  It didn’t take long for Voges to be one of Frank’s favourites.  Well sort of.  You see, Nick was a big possession getter, he wasn’t quick, but with his distinctive running style he’d keep going all day and continually found the ball.  And when you get the ball lots, occasionally you might make a skill error or turn the ball over.  Or elaborating a little more, as Nick explains “Typically I think over ambitious attempts at kicks would cause a reaction from Frank, the threading of the eye of a needle pass that would come off once in a blue moon & were attempted on many occasions”. It was after one of these low percentage kicks didn’t come off that you’d hear Frank boom across the Gillon, “F*CKING VOGELS!!!!*

Thankfully they breed them tough in the Western District, and Voges copped it on the chin and to this day still has fond memories of Frank, saying “Frank is a larger than life character and was always coming up with big plans and strategies to try to catch the opposition out….I enjoyed playing for him”.   His other coach at the club was Garry Foulds, who Nick recalls was very different in coaching style to Frank but whom he also remembers affectionately, “Garry was very humble and took a fair bit of getting to know before he would open up about what he had achieved as a player and parts of this came out in his coaching and was quite reserved at times.”

It was in this first year that we reached the B-Grade prelim.  After easily taking care of De La in the 1st semi we couldn’t get the job done against long-time bogey side in Mazenod in the prelim.  The prelim featured in a chapter of Paul Daffey’s excellent insight into local football “Local Rites”.  The book detailed how Mazenod had deliberately started Harrison on the bench in order to then engineer what they viewed as a mismatch against Voges, and how then Harrison went on to kick a few goals.  With the irony being that had he started on the ground, Voges was designated to pick him up anyway.  Two years later we met Mazenond again at Elsternwick Park, this time in a 1st semi-final, and will still hadn’t beaten them in several years. Voges had much to prove this day, and wound up like a clock he exploded in the first quarter, kicking 4 goals as he ran riot and we jumped out to a 23-point quarter time lead.  Mazenod challenged in the last quarter, but we held on to win and it remains the best win Voges played in for the club.

After that high, it was the prelim at Sandringham the next week that is the lowlight of his time at North.  For the second time in three years we were one win away from A-Grade, but again we didn’t get there.  Nick recalls, “ “The one that got away was the prelim against Haileybury, we had just had a cracking win the previous week against Mazenod and were starting to really come together as a team which was very young but very talented but two of our best onballers didn’t play; Dan Tehan broke a finger the previous week and Mat Hyde got an ingrown hair on his bum (you can’t make those things up) and we ended up losing (Editor’s note: and this was after the standard ammos challenge of two top shelf players, Nick Casboult & Tom Spurling season ending as a result of o/s trips mid-way through the year!!).  Haileybury went on to play finals the next couple of years in A- Grade and ended up winning the A grade premiership in 2006.”

Outside of finals, the like many others from that time, Paul Booth’s 200th game, also at Elsternwick in 2000, is a memorable occasion.  It was against Old Brighton on a Sunday at EP, and you can watch the Channel 31 footage on YouTube for yourself!  Nick’s preparation for the game wasn’t ideal, as he explains, “…One of the guys from the club had previously asked us if we were looking for any part time work to get us some beer money as he had contacts at the docks and might be able to get us a shift or 2 at extortionate rates. We got a call on the Saturday asking if we could work Saturday night which would have been ok apart from the Sunday game…. so 3 of us headed straight to the game from the docks without sleeping, I guess from the clubs point of view it was better that we worked at the docks than got on the booze.”

After the two prelims in three years, in 2003 we found ourselves in a relegation battle.  And this yo-yo and the challenging nature of what was in reality a quasi uni-club at the time is explained by Nick, “ As a team we went from the top end fighting out prelims to the bottom staving off relegation and up and down again, some of this was because we always had a huge influx of players every year, it was a bit like a lost dogs home every preseason, they would come from all over the state and there was always some awesome players amongst them which was shown by the talent that we had running around in the 2s and anyone time and the success that they had over the years but for a variety of reasons we never got over the line and made it up to A.  I don’t think we quite got the best out of everyone that played, there are some good examples of people playing a long time in the 2s and then finally getting a crack at the ones and then being a standout player for a long time to come. Personally it took the 1st year to find my feet with some up and down football but then had a few pretty good years depending on the role I was playing. I did pretty well in the league B&F a couple of years and thought I was a pretty good show at winning the NOBs B&F one year but missed the last 5 games with a broken arm.”

Nick was indeed leading the 2003 Seniors B&F before breaking his arm at Melbourne High, and as noted he was always prominent in the league B&F as well, and he shamelessly admits to often trying to make friends with the umpire to increase the likelihood of him getting a vote.  In 2003 after he broke his arm he decided to have a crack at the Melbourne Marathon, churning out the laps of Princes Park, and the result was a 3:30 marathon in October.

Also helping him with the umpires was Nick’s love of a goal.  So when quizzed about this favourite, he was only too happy to oblige with a story, “….It has to be the final game of 2004 which turned out to be my last game as I headed home to play in 2005 before going OS. We couldn’t go up or down so there was nothing to play for in the final round so we weren’t the best prepared. Pregame was taken up with listening to Maxy tell stories of the night before where he had won the ‘young pool cleaner of the year’ award at Crown (who knew that award actually existed?!?). Most of us had reasonable hangovers but were managing to stay in the game somehow and just on ¾ time, a ball was kicked out on the full on the far side kicking towards the Sydney Road end, I was closest but must have been 55 out and the siren rang. I decided to line up the goal much to the amusement and sledging from the opposition in that I was no hope of kicking it that far but I struck it like no kick I had ever struck before and the barrel sailed through post high much to the elation all round and a stirring ¾ time speech from Fouldsy to inspire the boys. I don’t think we won (Editor’s note, we didn’t) but had a belter of a Saturday night and Silly Sunday the following day down in Port Melbourne with the Melbourne Pheonix girls who had lost their final the day before.”

In terms of post-game celebrations, Voges was famous for his ability to skoll a jug.  A regular pot is the limit for most, but Voges had super-powers in this regard.  And it was ability to continue on, unaffected and as if it was no big deal, that added to the legend.  Asked if he can still do it, “The skull used to get some air time around Asia playing for the Malaysian Warriors, I am pretty sure I got a few more best-ons than I deserved so I could be in the skull off versus the opposition best player.  The last attempt was on my bucks party at Ocktoberfest in 2013.  At Ocktoberfest there would be someone standing up with a full stein skulling every hour or so, the whole crowd turns around and cheers them on, most of the time it is the really drunk people that tread water for ages and end up spilling most down their shirt and still don’t make it through.  After watching a fair few failed attempts, one of our party suggests I should show them how it is done which is obviously something I don’t want to do on my bucks party as the chances are I would miss the rest of the party so I decided that I would say I would do it if my brothers all did it thinking they wouldn’t do it but before I got the whole sentence out, my eldest brother was up and into his stein so I had to do it and was successful to the applause of the whole beer tent.”

As mentioned earlier, Nick’s final year for the club was 2004, as in 2005 he travelled home to have a season with Timboon, before departing our shores for first Asia and now his home in the UK, where he’s married and with a little daughter.  It’s a shame we didn’t see him at the club for a little bit longer or that he can’t just pop in on a Saturday these days, but for those around in the early 2000s, we have fond memories of his high pitched screech after kicking a goal, his constant running, his constant talking, and most of all, a great person to have around the club.

Q&A with Nick Vogels

Best Players played with at NOB’s and why: It depends a bit on how you categorise them.  If it was for talent then Jo Saad was probably the best I saw on any football field, he could have done anything from the amazing hanger, to kicking goals from the centre square to chasing someone down giving them 10m head start but didn’t get the best out of himself for one reason or another. If it was who played the best football consistently over my 5 years at NOBs I probably need to divide my time in 2 as there weren’t many people who stayed the whole 5 years, in the 1st half there was Booth, Curry, Collinson, Barker and Boyle with Collinson probably playing the most consistent good football with the others having more great games but not as consistent. Boyle to move from forward line to play in the midfield was one of the greater transformations with a special mention for the one arm pushups at the end of season booze up.  For the 2nd half of my time there was Hyde, Cassell and Hosking. We probably didn’t see the best of Hyde through injury, Cassell always went about his business without many people noticing and Hosking was still playing deep in defence in those days with his battles against Porteous was the stuff of legends. Off the field there were some greats with a special group of Martin, Roache, Grigg and Brady getting up to all sorts of trouble on most occasions but still playing good football. Ged can probably count himself unlucky not to be in the best player group, just ask him

Best opponents in the Ammo’s if you can remember any: I can’t actually remember his name but there was a guy from Old Brighton that I always used to get matched up on, we played pretty similar styles and had some very good battles over the years. Porteous was one that stood out that we played against but luckily I didn’t have to match up on. The talent in the VAFA was pretty remarkable with each team having genuine good players but often you only got to see them for a year or two with the promotion and relegation system. There was only a couple of teams that we consistently played against over the 5 years

Aside from the Gillon, which away grounds did you enjoy playing at & why? The best ground I played on was The Junction Oval against Old Melbournians, we got lucky with the weather the year we played there (2001) and it was a belting game, from memory I think we were 4 goals down after 10 minutes with all signs pointing to a blowout but then fought back, hit the lead in the last and took the points. Elsternwick was always good as it was an occasion when you playing there, either a final or a Sunday game that had been scheduled in as it was considered to be a good game but the ground itself wasn’t that great in my time and often there was a huge breeze favouring one end

What do you like Best about NOB’s The main thing I liked about NOBs was it was a fun place to be around, after the first year, we were a very young list that had come from all over the state, most were living away from home for the first time so had things always had the ability to get pretty loose most of the time but we still managed to put together good performances most of the time but sadly couldn’t quite make the final jump up to A grade on a couple of occasions. The club also had a good group of non-players supporting the club both from an operational group with Bruno, Terry Scanlon etc making it a great place to be and then there was also the old ladies who used to turn up each home game and cheer on from the top stand.