Glenn Manton won a premiership at Carlton and was almost a part of Essendon's 1993 success. Yet, missing the latter is something he'd never change.

Missing out on being selected to play in a Grand Final your team is participating in would be a traumatic experience for most league footballers.

Further compounding this trauma and disappointment would be when your team goes on to win the premiership.

For most players that would be reason enough to throw the toys out of the cot and seek a trade.

But Glenn Manton looks back on Grand Final Day in 1993 as one of the key sliding doors moments of his football career and life.

The rangy half back flanker played 178 games for both Essendon and Carlton, including the 1995 flag with the Blues, credits a meeting with former footballing legend Alec Epis in the grandstand on that day in September 1993, along with other key sliding door moments in his life for his successes during his playing and post-footballing career.

A well-read, articulate and different thinker, Manton says he didnt really fit the mould of the quintessential nineties footballer.

“I’m not going to be that cookie cutter product that sits on the tray and everyone can say that’s the same as the rest of them,” he said.

“I know I’m not the same as the rest of them” he said.

“I couldn’t play the game the way that the political sphere is spinning in its current form, I just couldn’t do it.

“But to lead and support and grow a community is something I would really relish”.

As a public speaker, author, stand-up comedian and most importantly, a father and citizen of the world, Manton is sharing his experiences and stories from his football career and the real world to help better the lives of public in an authentic, real manner.

“My public speaking is my platform to share my stories my way so that I have an audience there and take it in as if they are watching a movie,” he said.

“Unlike a general movie where there is no real interactivity, with me there in first person, people can pull and pick what they want from a story and what they want from me.

“And by the end of the session, I can leave the room, the space, the session knowing that every single person had the chance to take away what they wanted.”

Manton describes growing up in Strathmore and getting signed to Essendon as a 16-year-old as like being thrown into an open field in a game of survival of the fittest.

He describes that first training session at Cross Keys Reserve and being thrust into an AFL environment as something “you’re never going to be ready for”. 

“I rode my bike to the club…trying to show some extra fitness and dedication,” he said.

“From there, we ended up running three laps of that oval. Flat chat. Absolutely exhausted.

“Cross Keys Reserve also isnt your ordinary 400m round oval, it was about a kilometre and a half.

“So, I thought to myself, ‘stop there that’s enough’…but it was only the very beginning.

“After a set of a 100 100m sprints and then football training for two hours, it was one heck of an introduction to the elite level.

“I rode my bike home, usually a two to three-kilometre journey, I had to go the long way home, I wouldn’t be lying to say it took me an hour because I was sick and physically ill.” 

The first training session was tough, and breaking into a young, talented Essendon line-up was difficult, however, the moments that would define Manton’s career and life would take place in the middle of the night on Sydney Road Coburg – the night he cut his arm in half.

The realisation in the aftermath of getting himself into that situation and making such a terrible mistake would prove a significant turning point in his life.

“If I look back on my life, I can see that there were so many crossroads and so many people intersecting those crossroads that have affected my thinking, my behaviours moving forward, for better or worse.

“That incident is punctuated by an English doctor who was in Melbourne that night.

“The way he spoke to me about my actions that night, having never heard of Glenn Manton or caring about Glenn Manton, just seeing a jerk in a hospital bed who had suffered an injury at his own hands. “The way he spoke to me that night was so extraordinary on every possible level you can imagine.

“It was brutal. It was humiliating, it was inspiring, it was discouraging to be honest on some levels too.

“But it was punctuated with an atmosphere that said if you don’t change your life, right here right now, you will go absolutely nowhere.”

Manton recognised the need to make a change.

“I’d gone away from the idea of being Glenn Manton the person and I’d embraced the idea of becoming Glenn Manton the footballer,” he said.

“I made a huge decision that night to turn things upside down, to redirect and re-focus my desires, my abilities, my wants my practices.

“And somehow, I really don’t know how, it’s probably more the doctor than me, somehow my arm functions again when I was told in no way shape or form that it ever will in the same capacity”

The decisions we make and the people we meet along the journey, all have an impact on our lives. Whether that be positively or negatively.

From the arm incident, to being delisted twice and into his adult life, Manton has had a strong focus on relationships and building physical, authentic connections.

His relationship with his mentor Alec Epis is one that has shaped him into the father and man he is today.

The admiration and care that Manton has and speaks about for his mentor is reflected strongly across every opportunity he has, to give gratitude.

“While he is certainly not a perfect person and none of us are, his ability to care for, unconditionally another human being, whether it be myself or other people because I’ve seen him do exactly the same for others, is something to be genuinely admired,” he said.

“The knowledge that, that person is there, as Alec has been for me, since the age of 20, he has always been there for me.

Glenn Manton with the 1995 premiership cup. Picture: Supplied.

“That authenticity, that unconditional aspect, that generosity, again, you don’t need to receive it every day but just to know that it’s there when required.”

Alec Epis played 180 games for Essendon, including the 1962 and 1965 premierships.

Manton reflected on Grand Final Day in 1993 and the day he met Epis as one of the key sliding doors moments of his life.

Marinating while he would have loved to have been selected on the day, he would get far greater fulfilment by being in the right place at the right time on that particular day.

“If I had of been selected for the 1993 grand final, and, given the way I was playing that year and where I fitted into the team, I probably could’ve,” he said.

“I’m 99 per cent sure I didn’t get selected because Kevin Sheedy more or less cracked the shits at me, which is fine, that’s ok.

“But if I did get selected, I play in that game, I win a premiership medal potentially, I don’t meet Alec Epis.

“Which would’ve been more valuable to me? Well I’m going to choose Alec Epis every day of the week, so there’s a sliding door moment right there.

“You couldn’t ask for anyone to be more generous, in any way shape or form.

“Alec has given me everything that he has and asked for nothing in return.

“An incredible man who’s done more for me than I could possibly imagine. The gratitude I have for him as a person is beyond words”

As fate would have it, Manton would eventually go on to win a premiership medal at Carlton, seven months after his second delisting from Essendon.

He crossed to Carlton in the pre-season draft and arriving at Princes Park on the eve of the season, not even allowed to take his boots from the back room of Windy Hill, with a new challenge of breaking into an already strong defensive unit.

With the backing and healthy relationship of a coach who had ‘genuine care’, Manton worked his way into the senior team mid-season and established himself as a key member of the Carlton side that went on its 16-game winning run all the way to the club’s most recent premiership.

“When you already have a great relationship with a coach who has been honest and forthright and communicated well et cetera, when he/she tells you something, you are more than willing to listen, to buy in, to work with than you are if its fluctuating up and down in terms of the relationship,” he said. 

“That year (1995) saw me delisted in March… six months later, I’m standing on the MCG. 

While Manton got the best out of himself as a footballer, his mission on this earth is far from complete and is urging all people to use this time back in lockdown to take stock, take a step back and “invest our learnings and our time and our efforts into being proactive in a positive way, one who really influences change with every small thing that we do.”

“When we’re pushed into a corner, we have some bad luck or misfortune, one of the first things we do is think “oh my god” this is the end for whatever it happens to be, this is going to be the end,” he said.

“And it’s unfortunate that many of us have heard this so many times but it is absolutely true.

“You just have to be aware enough to see the door opening, because when one closes, another one generally does open.

“It’s only when your eyes are closed from what’s in front of you that you miss that opening.”

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2 thoughts on “Glenn Manton’s sliding doors moment

  1. I saw Glenn while I was visiting Essendon College a few years ago, the rapport he had with them was phenomenal, the leadership and positive messages he left with them were potentially life changing for them.

    Glenn, along with a lot of the Carlton side, was a hero of mine for his feats on the field, but much, much more so for his feats off it.

  2. Just watched the 1999 prelim final which Carlton won by 1 point. One of the greatest games ever, Glenn was teriffic but so was almost every member of that side. It was great to see that Glenn has had a wonderful productive career after football.

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