Simon Verrender clocks up 250 matches for St George Saints


Simon Verrender, captain of St George and now into his thirteenth straight season at the club, ran up his 250th first grade appearance for St George this week. It is a fine and auspicious record in an age when most players move from club to club with startling regularity.
Simon made his first team debut as a 19 year old way back on 6 June 1998, when St George were in the top tier of State League football. Coach of the Saints at the time, and the man who gave Simon his first team start was Paul Carter, a name well known in both state and national league football circles.
It was not a good season though for the St George club that year, being relegated for the 1999 season. But it proved to be a good grounding for Simon who ultimately made nine appearances in that first season.
Simon was to show his true worth the following year, claiming an automatic spot at the heart of the defence, helping St George win back promotion, and being virtually an automatic selection ever since.
Ross Gardner, president of St George since 2001, has nothing but high praise for the Saints captain.
?There is no doubt that Simon?s performance over the years has been simply outstanding. When I came here, Simon was still raw as a player but he has come on a long way.  While he may be a man of few words, he is a great captain and a leader by action.?
?He has the respect of all the players and admiration of all the people within the club. His dedication to St George has been tremendous?.
Simon is a local to the St George area, having started with St George in the Under 12s. He may have had a few youth league seasons with local rivals Rockdale from Under 13s, but he returned to St George by the time he was 17.  Despite some tough years in the red and white, and some good ones, there has never been any real thought of playing for anyone else, especially since becoming captain.
?I am very proud to captain this historic club considering some of the names that have played here. It is good also to see so many young players here too?guys like Huss [Rachid] who has been here six years and Blakey [Blake Ricciuto], I would like to see them progress and help to teach them what I have learnt?.
?Plus the way in which Spiro [Parameritis] and Ross have rejuvenated the club is fantastic?.
There is no doubt which years have been Simon?s highlight with the Saints.
?The two years around 2003/04 and 2004/05 when we made the Premier League semifinals both seasons were the best?.
 ?Playing with guys like Mirko Jurilj and Nick Orlic, such experienced players, was reat, even though we just failed to take the Premiership. And having coaches such as Manny Spanoudakis and Aytek Genc, they have been the most influential on my career?.
Simon would still like to have another go at Premier League too.
?I?ve got a few more years left in me yet and I would like to have play at least one more year in Premier League. Vince [Savoca] played till he was 34, so I?ve got a little bit of time?.
While not noted as a goalscorer, Simon has been known to get amongst the goals, with fourteen to his credit. But it is at the centre of defence where he has surely made his name.
In a time when players can change clubs yearly, it is nothing but a wonderful achievement for one to remain loyal to his local club for thirteen years and counting.
250 first team appearances for the 31 year old?no doubt there are plenty of games left yet in the St George captain?s legs.
-By Peter Rowney