Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 12 - 24 May 2016 - Glenn Nissen
Where did you grow up?
I grew up at Warragamba Dam which comes under the Penrith juniors. Group 6 until I was in the Under 12's, then I went to Saint Dominics as a teenager. Greg Alexander, John Cartwright and Steve Robinson were in the year above me. Greg Alexander was the most gifted player I ever saw play.
What was your childhood like ?
I was one of three brothers.
Phil Gould was my coach for the Under 13's I played for in 1978 and he was playing for Penrith at the time. Phil was one of the youngest captains of the Penrith Panthers, he may well have been the youngest ever captain.
Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?
Yes, I loved the footy cards. I remember the pictures on the back of the cards which created a Grand Final scene, and there was a strip of gum. I would say that I was a big collector of the footy cards, we flicked cards against the wall and the closet to the wall collected the lot. There was four of us, brothers and there was always a fight over who got the bread / milk because whoever went to the shops would get the pack of footy.
What was your first football experience?
I was a big Penrith fan, I loved watching them, they were known as the Chocolate Soldiers in those days. I put the Penrith Amco Cup jersey on my pet dog to watch it on the screen. All of us brothers went for different sides, one goes Manly one the went for the Bears.
Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?
Bill Ashurst, Mick Kelly, Kevin Dann, Ross Gigg, Terry Wickey and Steve Rogers
Your first time in the top grade?
I made my debut in Third Grade off the bench in 1984. I came out of the Flegg side. I made my run on in Reserve Grade in 1985 against St George, we were got flogged by 50 points. The Dragons side was fierce, with the likes of Robert Stone, Bruce Starky, Henry Tatana, Barry Beath, basically the old St George first grade forward pack. As an 18 year old I was in awe. The rest of the 1985 season I was back in the Under 23's.
My First Grade debut was in 1987 against Souths at Redfern. I played at fullback, they beat us, Steve Mavin ran around me to score.
In 1987 I played in the Reserve Grade Grand Final winning side.
Greatest memories of playing rugby league?
The 1987 Reserve Grade Grand Final win was awesome. Graham Murray was the coach, we had Darryl Brohman and Tony Butterfield as the props and it was the last game at SCG. We had some other top players in the side including Gary Longhurst, Mark Geyer and Warren Fenton, a great bunch for a Reserve Grade side.
I was fortunate enough to play in the 1988 Grand Final winning side with the Bulldogs. We had a top side with Michael Hagan, Terry Lamb, Paul Dunn, Peter Tunks, Tony Currie, Andrew Farah and David Gillespie. Phil Gould was my coach again. I was playing on the wing. In the dressing sheds we were extremely confident, we had a good year coming second in the season proper behind the Sharks. I have never had a better coach, Phil was a man manager, motivating the players one on one and in groups. The Michael Hagan try was a plan move, Phil said do this, it will work
How was the 1988 Grand Final?
Phil Gould said this before the grand final - "If you lose no one will remember you in 30 years time, however we are talking about this now and it is close to 30 years later. Terry Lamb, knocked out Ellery Hanley, it didn't make a difference, we would of won anyhow.
Who was your most respected rival?
I hated coming up against Mal Meninga, he was a man mountain, legs like tree stumps. Others who I respected a lot were Rod Wishart, Michael O'Connor, Chicka Ferguson and Michael Hancock
What made you leave Canterbury to go back to Penrith?
The Salary Cap, I was cut. I spoke with Gus at Canterbury, Gus also gave me a life line at Penrith in 1992. Ben Alexander died in a car accident that time as well, very tragic. 1992 at Penrith I was playing with the premiership side, players like Brad Fittler, Greg Alexander, John Cartwright and Mark Geyer.
When did you know it was time to give the game away?
At the end of the 1992, I had already undergone a fair bit of surgery, 15 all up, mostly in the last few years. Ankles were my main problem. I was signed by Penrith in 1994, I was playing a game in the local comp for match fitness when I snapped the ankle the week before going to play for Penrith.
What followed after football?
I went back to university and I was involved as a skills development office with Garry Hughes. I was also a full time primary school teacher.
The last 18 years started health and nutrition business www.glennissen.com. work with a fruit and veg, concentrated fruit and veggie powders - whole food carb drink.
How was it having a career during football years?
In my playing days I worked at the Bankstown Council at Canterbury. I was Driving excavators whilst at Penrith. Near the end of the career the age of professionalism started. I Think players of today should look at careers after footy, Penrith are doing this now.
How has the game changed since your playing days?
The game is a whole lot faster and more professional. I am not a big fan of the unlimited interchange, it takes away the fitness factor, takes away the survival of the fittest and small guys. The players today are ultra fast and strong. .
Did you keep a scrap book?
No, my mum did religiously though. We have four scrap books at home, the kids look through sometimes. It is nice to reminisce. Mum was a big sports fan and she played a lot of sports herself. Mum was right into it.
Uncle Raja's - Thai restaurant Charlestown - fancy dress.