Innes to manage 500 matches

Veteran Harbour Hawks manager Grant Innes at team training at Moller Park in Ravensbourne last...
Veteran Harbour Hawks manager Grant Innes at team training at Moller Park in Ravensbourne last night. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Grant Innes has filled out more team sheets, topped up more water bottles and bagged up more kit than just about anyone alive.

The veteran Harbour Hawks manager will bring up 500 games for the premiers tomorrow.

That is a shed-load of games and it only took 29 years.

If you have spent even one chilly Saturday afternoon at Watson Park then you can begin to appreciate just how extraordinary that achievement is.

Then there are all those frosty Tuesday and Thursday night training sessions as well.

It is closer to martyrdom than service.

The 70-year-old promised to retire in 2017 when he brought up 400 games.

He even talked about sleeping in on a Saturday morning instead of getting up early, getting everything organised and then heading down to the club to begin what are long days.

But he was drawn back in and tomorrow he will reach the milestone when Harbour hosts University.

It is a fitting game too.

Innes was the manager of University in the early 1990s and clocked 58 games with the students. They even won a couple of titles.

He went to five finals with Harbour before they could celebrate a banner in 2018 and even then they had to share it with University.

It has not been the glory which has kept him going so long. It has been the camaraderie, the sense of belonging and being part of something, or as Innes said "there has just been a good bunch over the years".

"It is just the enjoyment of being at the club and being with the players. It is something I’m going to miss, that’s for sure."

Innes will retire at the end of the season. He is more determined this time. But that retirement does not look like what you might expect.

He is the gear manager at the club and will continue in that role. He will also continued to update the statistics and keep count like he always has.

The game and club will continue to be a big part of his life.

Innes played schoolboy rugby in the 1960s and went on to play for the Port Chalmers club in the second grade. But he suffered a serious back injury in 1982 and his playing days were over.

His team asked if he could stay on as manager and that is how he got his start.

He managed the Port Chalmers premiers in 1989 and then had three years as manager of the University A side from 1990 to 1992.

Port Chalmers and Ravensbourne merged in 1992 and Innes managed Harbour from 1995 to 1997. He returned as manager in 2000 and has been in the role ever since.

There have been many highlights, but the shared title with University was "overwhelming".

"I think that was our seventh final we’d been to and my fifth with the team. That day at Forsyth was just overwhelming.

"It was great to have that shield hanging on the wall for six months."