Les 'Salty' Parish
Born: 28 Sept 1955 Died: 12 Feb 1998
Came from: Yarrawonga Went to Cobram
First game: 2 April 1989 Last game: 29 Sept 1991
Appearances: 48 Goals: 106
League Rep: 7 League Best & Fairest: 1989
Lifting Griffith a challenge Parish could not refuse
According to newly signed coach Les Parish, the chance to lift the Swans from the bottom of the ladder was one of the reasons why he accepted the challenge of coaching Riverina Football League club Griffith, ahead of 21 other offers.
The former Victoria Football League star of 87 games with Fitzroy and seven with Melbourne, said "I just want goers and from what I have seen, I got them at Griffith.
Parish makes no bones his goal is a place in the RFL final four, a position denied to the Swans since 1981, the last year of the South West District Football League, where Griffith lost to Narrandera in the first semi-final.
Parish has signed at two-year contract with the Swans with an option of a further season. "If it works out for Jenny (Mrs Parish) and I, we could see my football days out, in Griffith."
Jenny, (expecting a third child in September), with their two boys, Chris and Toby, will shift to their new home in Kookora Street, on Thursday.
Les meanwhile, is boarding at the headquarters of the Griffith Waratah Rugby League Club, at the Area Hotel, with mine host Jock McDonald.
Les explained how he came to be the on the coaching market so late in the season.
"I coached Yarrawonga to the Ovens and Murray finals in 1988. "I resigned to coach them again this year," Les said.
"I was disappointed with Yarrawonga.
"They elected a new committee and they (the committee) wanted a new agreement with me. "I wanted the terms of my old agreement but they broke it?"
"I still would have loved to coach Yarrawonga," Les said.
Now a free agent, the offers flowed thick and fast for Parish, a total of 22 including Ovens and Murray teams, Victorian Football Association and Canberra clubs and the one from Griffith.
Jenny and I had a look at the town and we met with the Swans' committee," Les said.
Les said it did not worry him that the Swans had finished last and had poor seasons for most of their years in the RFL, since 1981.
Les said he was told a lot of players were coming back, (Gerry Toscan, Robbie Owen, Andrew Romagnolo and Wayne Bottcher).
"And I'm going to give the young players a go, if they show me they are fair dinkum, I'll be fair dinkum too".
Les emphasised, "Players reputations mean nothing to me. I just want goers and from what I've seen, I can't complain?"
As part of his contract, Parish will spent at least two days a week conducting football clinics at Griffith and districts schools.
"We used to do three or four clinics a day when I was at Fitzroy, I worked with Leon Harris," Les said.
Few footballers would have come to RFL football in recent years with more credits than Les Parish.
His football began in Yarrawonga, as an 11-year-old with Yarrawonga juniors. "At 13, I was playing thirds with Mulwala and played my first senior game when 14. "In 1973 played thirds, reserves grade and seniors with Yarrawonga in my first year in the Oven and Murray," Les said.
He was a playing member of Yarrawonga's successful reserve grade premiership team in that year.
While most of his football years have been spent as ruck-rover, Parish showed when with Tungamah in 1976 where he won the League's best and fairest, he could also kick his share of goals.
He kicked 100 goals as a ruck-rover in that year.
North Melbourne invited Parish to trial with them in 1976 where he played two reserve grade matches. "I didn't like the city. I came back to Yarrawonga and stayed with them for the 1977, '78 and '79 seasons, winning their best and fairest," Les said.
He also agreed he had represented Ovens and Murray on numerous occasions and some against the SWDFL," Les said.
Fitzroy approached him in 1980 and he played five matches with the Lions in the VFL. From 1981 till 1985, Parish was a regular, playing in all their five semi-finals appearances during that period.
His VFL career finished with seven games with Melbourne during the latter half of 1985.
Parish returned to Yarrawonga in 1986 where his brilliance won him the Morris Medal as Ovens and Murray's best and fairest player.
In 1987 he was elected captain of the inaugural Victorian Country Football League representative side to play West Australia, in Perth.
"I love to coach," Parish said as he detailed his record with Yarrawonga. The club finished in 7th place in 1987 and Parish was appointed coach in 1988. He lifted the club to the finals, "we won seven of our last nine games to do it," Parish said.
Parish agreed he was impressed about the Griffith job when he was told their under 16-side had won the premiership.
"Having young players around me is what I like," Parish said.
Parish led the Swans for the first time, against Tongala, in the Deniliquin knockout, at Deniliquin last Friday.
He won best on ground with his display.
The Swans return to Deniliquin on Friday night, to meet Deni Rams, in a semi-final. On Sunday, the Swans are entered in Whitton's 12-team knockout, at Whitton.
"I'm leaving it open to players who play at Deni. If they want to line up again against Whitton, that's fine," Parish said, explaining that the team bus from Deni will arrive back to Griffith about 3am on Saturday morning.
Parish agreed the Swans could be back in business as a top RFL side.
He knows he has got the experience of Ian Geddes, Robert Harrington, Darrell Collins, Martin O'Donnell, plus Toscan, Owen, Romagnolo and Bottcher, to settle the side. Parish agrees he is impressed with the younger players Wayne Spencer, Darren Prest, Greg Dreyer, Justin Barry, Danny Files, Scott Wade and Mark O'Connor.
He was also impressed the Swans have recruited well with the signing of Paul Biron, ANU Canberra, (son of former player, Oscar Biron), Teal Cup rep player Damien Scott of Girral-West Wyalong, Tallimba ruckman Glenn Quade, Osborne's Michael Vaughan and Trevor Charville from Mount Pleasant in the Heathcote League.
Also Gary Waters, Snow Taylor and Mark Tyndall are back in training after missing last season.
(By Jack Luhrs - The Daily Advertiser, Thursday, March 16, 1989).