Holt set for a magical milestone
By David Nagel
Only a lucky few will ever get to experience the unique sensation and intense glare that comes with the pressure of the sporting spotlight.
The gun-sprinter at the Olympic Games, the quarterback in gridiron, or the greatest leg-spinner in the world mesmerising batsmen at the MCG on Boxing Day.
The golfer who can crash 300-metre drives on his way to leading a major on the back-nine on Sunday, or the jockey who takes the lead at the clock-tower in the Melbourne Cup.
Just for one race, one game, and one test –just for one round- we’d like to be in their shoes to see how we handle the heat.
In football in these parts, that man you would want to be is Cranbourne’s champion full-forward –the intimidating Marc Holt – who needs just one goal against Officer at Casey Fields tomorrow to bring up the remarkable milestone of 1000 goals in his career.
Marc Holt is a unique footballing talent.
He is not overly tall, standing 188cm, but his greatest strength is, quite literally, his strength, combining a rare agility for a man of his size with the raw strength and fast-twitch power of a weightlifter.
And boy can he mark!
He makes the difficult skill look so easy…at times it appears the ball is made of wool and his hands are wrapped in Velcro.
And - for the best part of a decade – he is Cranbourne.
He captained the club to a senior premiership in 2011, kicked three consecutive centuries of goals from 2012 to ‘14, including 22 in one match, and won the Norm Walker Medal, the league best and fairest award for SEFNL, in 2012.
He was named captain of Cranbourne’s Team of the Last 25 Years.
But it’s that intense pressure, that he grown to love as much as a strong mark, a straight kick, or as much as an ice-cold can of Bundaberg Rum, which has kept him driven.
He told me in 2015 that it’s the thing that he loves the most.
“That was always the most enjoyable thing for me, having that pressure on my shoulders, because all I wanted to do was to take this club forward,” Holt said.
“I’ve always loved the pressure that comes with trying to win a game for your team.”
He also understands better than anyone the hollowness of individual glory, when not accompanied by team success.
As captain in 2012, ’13 and ‘14, he suffered the pain of grand final defeat despite kicking 157, 118 and 103 goals for the season.
“I can’t sit around with my mates in years to come and keep telling them about how many goals I’ve kicked, you just can’t get excited about it because we lost those grand finals,” he said during that interview.
“They mean nothing, the 80 goals I kicked in 2011 are the best 80 goals I’ve ever kicked because they mean something and got us a premiership.”
Holt lines up against his premiership coach from 2011, now Officer leader Doug Koop.
“Yeah, he’s the man who put the ‘C’ next to my name,” Holt said.
“I was playing with my mates, and wanted to lead them but making me captain really gave me some stability. Over the years, as a full-forward, you get offered a lot of money, and it’d be easy to sell out, but having that extra responsibility really makes a difference.”
Holt and Cranbourne mean so much to each other.
“Look, it’s well known that I’ve had some rough times, and I’ve stuffed up a bit over the years, but the club has always been there to support me,” he said.
“I appreciate that so I’ve always tried to give back to the club. The only way I know how to do that is through football, so that’s what I’ve tried to do.”
And you’ve done it well Holty –and always under the spotlight.
It’s been a pleasure to watch you play.
Congratulations on the milestone and a truly wonderful career.