By Nicholas Galea
Football in one shape or form has always been a part of Lochie Dickson’s life. As a child he would attend AFL games at Princes Park with his father watching their team the Carlton Blues.
‘I have always loved football and watching it, growing up I used to enjoy watching it more than playing it but that has switched around now,’ Dickson said.
‘Growing up football was what our family did and it was easy for me to move into Aus Kick as a nine year old.’
‘A lot of my school mates and kids in the area played it so it was a pretty natural step for me to get into football at an early age.’
Dickson always had a talent for sport as he played three different codes throughout his teenage years representing the Kilsyth Cobras in basketball, Wonga Park in cricket and “Aussie Rules” with the Norwood Football Club in the Eastern Football League.
‘In my early days up until I was 13 or 14, basketball was the number one sport I played,’ Dickson said.
‘At times that was six nights a week playing across school, domestic and representative basketball.’
‘I was pretty lucky my parents encouraged me to play any sport that I wanted to…. They’ve always been encouraging to do whatever sport made me happiest.’
‘There is only so much you can fit in, if I could have fitted in more I would have, like soccer but you can’t fit everything in.’
‘I played a lot of sports as a young kid; it wasn’t probably until my late teenage years that I was focused on football.’
Dickson continued to play football for fun in the winter and cricket in the summer over the next few years but in 2011 he decided to take a year off football before returning to the sport in 2012 where he played Under 18s with friends at Norwood.
It was in 2013 as a 19 year old that he started to take football more seriously as he put together some good performances for the senior side at Norwood. From there Dickson’s confidence went to another level consolidated his spot in Norwood’s senior team the year later and ultimately ended up playing in consecutive grand finals including the 2014 premiership.
‘I guess I was a bit of a late developer; physically it took me until I was probably in either 19 or 20, to start growing and start putting some weight on.’
In 2016 Dickson once again took some time off to travel overseas and upon his return to Australia he continued his football journey playing 10 games in the VAFA with the Yarra Valley Old Grammarians before returning to play at Norwood for the 2017 season.
After impressing for Norwood, Dickson ended up being selected to play for the EFL Interleague team and played against the Essendon District Football League. It was his first representative accolade in his football career.
With football becoming his main sporting priority Dickson believed the time was right to push himself at a higher level making the decision to continue his football talents at Coburg in the Victorian Football League.
‘Seb had reached out to me halfway through the year at Norwood and asked if I wanted to have a few games in the Development League (which was in its lasts year) but at the time I was committed to Norwood,’ Dickson said.
‘It was at that point though that I sort of decided I would go and have crack at VFL the next year but I still wanted to play out my remaining games with Norwood.’
‘It has been a really good decision for me that I picked Coburg and it has worked out well.’
‘It is a good environment to be in.’
Such was his impact in his maiden season at the club, Dickson along with fellow first year midfielder Marcus “Lents” Lentini were joint winners of the Jim Sullivan Medal, Coburg’s best and fairest.
‘It was just a massive honour to win it and to be able to share it with “Lents” who had a great season and is somebody I’ve got a really good relationship with, makes it really special to look back on.’
Although he is only in his second year at Coburg, 25 year old Dickson is not fazed being one of the more experienced members of the youthful playing group which is filled with plenty of exciting talent
‘I think it is just a fairly natural thing, I don’t really think about it too much,’ Dickson said.
‘I’ve had a bit of senior experience back at Norwood as well and have been the younger player there.’
‘I think you just learn from your own experiences and what the coaches want and then I try and pass that on to the group.’
‘It’s always good to see improvement in the younger guys and see their enjoyment when they have a good result.’
‘The obvious one is Marcus Lentini, last year was his first year of senior football and then to back it up this season is very impressive.’
‘I get pretty impressed by all the younger guys to be able to play the quality of football that they do each week, I think back to when I was that age and I don’t think I’d be at the same level they are performing at.’
Even though season 2019 has had some challenges, Dickson feels the playing group has learnt some valuable lessons throughout the year and that they are close to putting it all together which bodes well for the future.
‘I think another year of playing with a core group of guys and understanding the systems and style of play that the coaches are trying to implement, those results will start to get better,’ he said.
‘We have pushed a lot of AFL clubs to the last kick of the game.’
‘With a bit of luck we should’ve had a few more wins but for a young group that is filled with 19 to 21 year olds and a few older guys the improvement has been pretty impressive.’
‘The more we practice and play together, the better the performances will be and that will result in some wins.’
With the reintroduction of the Mid Season Draft, the first one since 1993, it gave footballers who weren’t selected in the previous National Draft another chance to potentially kick start their careers in the AFL. Dickson was one of many players who tried to make the most of this new opportunity as he put himself into the draft pool.
Unfortunately it wasn’t to be but Dickson hasn’t let this setback affect his form this season where he averages 24 touches and four tackles a game and remains optimistic that his opportunity is still yet to come.
‘Obviously when you get that close it is disappointing, there was a lot of media about it but I was always realistic and knew what my chances were like,’ Dickson said.
‘I always knew they weren’t as good as the media were pumping them out to be so from that point of view it wasn’t as big a shock as it was for others but at the end of the day I was close and it was disappointing.’
‘I just have to keep playing good footy to give myself a chance and hopefully my football is good enough by the end of the season that I can get an opportunity at an AFL club but it is out of my control.’
‘You can only play as well as you can and whatever happens, happens …. I’ll play the season out and see if there is any interest but if not you try and get better again and hope you get an opportunity at some point.’
Being a professional athlete isn’t the only talent Dickson possesses. After originally being unsure what career path to take at school, he decided to broaden his options by studying commerce at Deakin University before becoming a Project Manager for DXC Technology.
‘I have always been fascinated by statistics, particularly in sport, one of my majors was Business Analytics and I also did Commercial Law,’ Dickson said.
‘After that I moved into project management and worked with some pretty big clients …. I was working in transitions and transformations and would go in and take over the companies IT services and manage their infrastructure and services.’
Currently Dickson is working with First Traffic Management in Lower Plenty.
When Dickson has the chance to put his feet up at the end of a VFL season he enjoys spending time with his friends at some of Melbourne’s finest beaches and hopes to continue his travels overseas.
‘I like going down to the beach, particularly in summer and head down to the Mornington Peninsula with some mates and have a few red wines and some beers over there,’ he said.
‘It is probably one of my favourite things to do over summer.’
‘Obviously I enjoy travelling and if I could do more of it I would but between playing football, working or studying and spending time with my girlfriend Lucy, my family and friends there is not a lot of time for much else really.’
‘But certainly in summer without footy I go watch my mates play cricket and try to get down to the beach as much as possible.’
An integral member of the team going forward, Dickson describes himself as a fairly laid back character that enjoys life and someone who is honest and straight forward.
‘I would say that I am fairly laid back ….. I like to have a joke and a laugh and just have fun with whatever I am doing but when there are times to be serious I can be.’
‘I’d like to say that I am pretty honest and someone who treats every person with the same respect regardless of what they do or who they are, I just like to treat everybody equally.’
‘I think most people in the club would say that’s a pretty accurate description of me, that I try to take the time to get to know people away from footy and ask them about work or other things.’
‘I just try and be a good person and have a positive influence on others.’
From being a 20 year member of the Carlton Football Club to vigorously analysing his own performances after each game, Dickson has come a long way but the journey is just beginning and there is much more left to tell in his story.
I haven’t been described as industrious many times but I’ll take it! I guess reasonably laid back I’d say; I think I’m pretty honest and straight forward. What you see is what you get.