Bernie Vince was one of five nominees for the AFL Players’ Association Madden Medal, an award that recognises more than on-field performances, with off-field achievements, personal development and community spirit also taken into account.
Prior to it all beginning, if you told Bernie Vince that he would play 100 games at two separate clubs and pick up a best and fairest at each along the way, he would be forgiven for being quietly eager for what the future holds.
Instead, the ever-humble former Crow and Demon would have told you he was just grateful for the opportunity.
“I think I always felt privileged just to play at the level, let alone perform or play as many games as I did,” Vince told AFLPlayers.com.au.
“As a junior, I was never picked for combine teams. I got drafted a little bit later and took a different journey into the AFL so I certainly wouldn’t have believed you.”
Vince joined the Crows in the middle of a streak of finals losses that haunted Adelaide fans for almost a decade.
Despite the anguish players go through when the chance of a premiership goes begging, those losses were in no way a burden on the fan-favourite’s career.
“I don’t see losing big finals as a low point,” Vince added. “I never achieved the ultimate success, but playing in finals were special as you knew everything was on the line and that there was a big reward at the end if you could win. Some players don’t get the opportunity to experience that, so to be there was awesome. If anything, you use the losses as a learning curve.”
The resilience required to play football at the elite level is something Vince believes is learned after being exposed to the AFL system at a young age.
The 33-year-old believes it teaches you to grow up and mature much more than many other professions.
“You get drafted and then all of a sudden you are known to a lot of people and often put under the microscope, so you have to grow up and learn to stand on your own two feet.”
After eight seasons and 129 games as a Crow, Vince joined the Demons on a four-year deal as Melbourne embarked on a rebuild under newly-appointed coach Paul Roos.
Following a further 100 games in the red and blue, including being awarded the Keith ‘Bluey’ Truscott Medal as the club’s best and fairest in 2015, it was time for the veteran to call time on his career.
But the next chapter wasn’t something Vince was scared about, having made the decision to set his life up after football while he was in the system.
Balancing football with real estate for the last three years of his career came as a challenge, but when presented with an opportunity to open a franchise in Prahran, Vince, along with fellow director Charlie Clemons, didn’t look back.
“I was realistic that my footy career was coming to an end and I was honest with myself and the Melbourne Football Club at the time that I felt like I didn’t have anything left to give,” he said.
“The opportunities I had outside of football helped with that transition. I worked extremely hard during the set days off I had so I felt comfortable enough that when I finished, I could step straight into that role.”
To Melbourne fans’ delight, Vince has not stepped away from football completely and has undertaken a development coaching role with the Demons for the upcoming season.
ON FIELD ACHIEVEMENTS
- 229 AFL games
- Adelaide Crows Best and Fairest (2009)
- Melbourne Best and Fairest (2015)
- Australian International Rules Squad (2011)
- Melbourne leadership group.
- Director of his own Real Estate Agency
- Certificate in Sport and Recreation (2007)
- Real Estate Mentoring Program (2015).
- Ambassador for the Greyhound Adoption Program.