By Sarah Beagley
“It is not by accident that these two CY’s legends are best mates. But what is amazing is the fact that the two all-time CYs greats will be connected by even more history in playing their 100th game together. I couldn’t be prouder of two individuals who have given so much to help build the CYs culture we love today” – Mathew Montebello, 2019 senior mens premiership coach.
In a moment sent to us by the footy gods themselves, senior men’s captains and best mates Tom Johnstone and Sam Callard will run out together this Saturday, both in their 100th game for the club.
Melbourne University Oval will be the place to be at 2:00pm this Saturday, as captain Tom and vice-captain Sam lead their senior men out to face the Uni Blacks in a historic moment for the pair and for the club.
Starting his CYs journey in 2013, Tom Johnstone has left no stone unturned in what will surely be one of the most prestigious footy careers in the club’s history. Tom is a two-time premiership player for the senior men’s side, first in 2014 and then again in 2019, which he co-captained alongside president Fin Adamson.
Tom has received two Best and Fairest awards and twice was the runner-up. On four occasions he has been chosen in the VAFA team of the year, and was selected on the under 18 and under 19 VAFA representative sides.
Joining Tom a few years later in 2015, Sam Callard has also had an extraordinary CYs career as an elite backman and much loved and respected leader at the club. In 2019, Sam was a vital part of the historic 2019 men’s premiership side and was selected in the VAFA team of the year. He was awarded the Best Defensive Player at the club in both 2019 and 2021, and was awarded the Mick Buckley prize in 2021.
I caught up with Sam and Tom to chat about their incredible CYs journeys ahead of their historic 100 game milestones this weekend.
Why did you choose CYs?
Sam: It was where my best friends were.
Tom: A lot of my friends stated playing under 19s here.
What do you remember about your first game?
Sam: I had leather poisoning and KB left me out the best.
Tom: My first senior game was against Melbourne High at the Fearon. Nick Holdsworth grabbed me by the collar before the bounce and said that if there’s a ball in front to make a beeline for the ball and just put my fucking head over it.
Coaches and players you’ve played most with/under?
Sam: I feel lucky to have played a large chunk of football with players like Ben Gray and Steven Puhar. Like most of us I had my first year with KB. Then had 6 years under Monty with the seniors, and now we’re back with KB.
Tom: Grew up with Rob Chan, Mitch Knight, Yuma Hemphill, Jack Connolly in the under 19s before graduating into the seniors where we were moulded by Benny Gray, Fin Adamson and Steven Puhar. I debuted under Monty in in 2013 before KB took over this year.
What’s your most memorable CYs moment?
Sam: Having an undefeated season in 2019. Going 20-0 and playing in all 20 games. Also going 4 years undefeated at the Fearon is pretty special.
Tom: There’s a few memorable moments, but the most obvious is the siren sounding after both grand finals. The 2019 series especially was the exclamation point on a journey that spanned from years of hard work before it. So many of my good mates were a part of that experience, which made it all the more special.
Any pre-game superstitions or routines?
Sam: I’ve never had pregame rituals. Although, when I first played seniors, coming from the under 19s, I got given a small bible at Uni the day before and it was in my bag already, so I told everyone that reading it was my pregame ritual. Steven Puhar made me read the boys a verse. Luke 15:11 from memory.
Tom: Coffee with Dad pregame.
What part of game day do you look forward to most?
Sam: Johnno’s jumpers pregame
Tom: Bridge chook postgame (RIP).
What is it like celebrating your 100th alongside your best mate?
Sam: Something that won’t take years of reflection to realise how special it is. I’d consider anyone lucky if they got to play footy with their best mate but to, on top of that, win a premiership with him, lead the culb beside him and now to play this game together. It’s pretty special.
Tom: It’s a bit surreal, getting to share this with your best mate. I got to present him his senior jumper when he debuted, now we are premiership teammates and leading a club we both love. He’s a special human in more ways than one. He drives me mad a lot of the time, but I know if it get collected in the play he will be there to throw the first headbutt.
Any shoutouts to people that helped you reach this milestone?
Sam: I’ve never missed a game from injury so big shout out to my osteo John Tomstone.
Tom: Honestly too many to thank, everyone who makes it the kind of environment where our mums feel welcome to come into the rooms after the game and have a glass of bubbles.
Messages for Tom ahead of his 100th game
“From the moment Tom stepped onto the field as a senior footballer at 17/18, he was already displaying the strong leadership qualities we see today. Tom has grown into one of the club’s all time greats. His ability to mentor younger players through building strong relationships, while being an outstanding role model has been incredible. His goal that sealed the 2019 premiership will forever go down in history as our inspirational captain who literally kicked us into Prem B for the first time.” – Mathew Montebello, 2019 premiership coach
“Tom is a driven leader of our football club whose hunger for success since having his first taste of senior football in 2013 has been a huge part of propelling our club up into Premier B. I was grateful to have him as a teammate and it was an honour to share captaincy duties in 2019. Tom has always led by example, with his endless gut busting running efforts from the midfield combined with throwing his body into contest after contest was, and still is, inspiring. It’s been great seeing him blossom into his role as captain of our senior mens team. If you’ve been impressed with how some of our younger midfielders have been approaching the contests, stoppages and running patterns this year – dip your hat to Tom for spending the time to nurture our next generation. Here’s to 100 more.” Fin Adamson, 2019 senior premiership co-captain, current co-president
“Jobbo has been an inspirational leader on the field since I’ve first played with him, as well as a caring teammate and friend off the field. It’s people like him that keep clubs successful when older players move on, and the CYs wouldn’t be close to where they are without his contribution. He’s what I would describe as reliable and consistent. Two of the best qualities someone can have.” – Nick Ebinger, teammate
“Tom is so consistent and reliable on the field and always leads by example. As well as being able to captivate the boys with an intense pregame pump up, you can always depend on him to kick the goal or lay a tackle when we really need it. He’s had a lot of success here at CY’s and I couldn’t think of anyone better to lead our footy club.” – Cooper Johnstone, teammate
Messages to Sam ahead of his 100th game
“Sam is the glue that brings people together. His high energy and football enthusiasm is unmatched. His ability to make others stand taller not just in football but in life is one of his biggest personality traits. There is no doubt that anyone who has crosses paths with Sam will remember him!”– Mathew Montebello
“Sam Callard’s ability to intercept mark, spoil, run and just generally demoralise every forward he’s come up against probably got an extra season or two out of the backend of my senior career. Standing arm across at full-back, I’d get to enjoy watching Sam cause mayhem at centre half back for opponents, resulting in any ball that managed to get past him was high and hurried. He has always been a fantastic teammate, knowing the moment to joke around and when to be serious, and a friend to many at our club. I even overheard Kal Dawson say the other day, “I learnt everything I know about playing in the back half from Sam Callard” – Fin Adamson
“Sam defines the word teammate. Whether he is the first or last to training, he makes sure he gets around everyone by the end of the night. His ability to translate this mentality and sense of unity into game day is why he has been able to develop into one of the most loved and respected team leaders and players at the CYs. He has put his heart on the line for his teammates and the club the last 99 games and don’t expect 100 to be any different.” – Mitch Parkinson, teammate
“When I think of Sam Callard, the first thing that comes to mind is how infectious his personality is. On and off the field he has such a fire and spark you can’t help but be taken along for a whirlwind of a ride every time you interact with him. As a teammate, he’s an incredibly honest, hardworking leader that will always give 110% and make everyone around him walk 10ft tall. I like to think he’s a bit of a boogeyman that opposition forwards permanently have nightmares about. When he’s in lockdown mode he has a maniacal laugh and terrifying smile that’s permanently stuck across his face that reminds you of a nightmarish clown from a horror movie. But away from the field he’s a big soft teddy bear that’s always good for a beer and a chat at the drop of a hat and always makes you feel welcome and safe in his presence. Happy 100 games Sam, you’ve definitely left an amazing impression on myself and this football club and can’t wait to see what the next 100 holds.” – Rob Chan, teammate
On behalf of the CYs family, congratulations to these two iconic CYs players on reaching this incredible milestone! Make sure you get down to join the celebration at 2:00pm Saturday, Melbourne University Oval.