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Gleeson's country roots

BTV: Country Roots; Marty Gleeson Marty Gleeson talks about growing up in the country.

Martin Gleeson has never forgotten his footballing roots.

He grew up in Koroit, a small rural town near Warrnambool in Victoria. It’s home to about 1,500 people.

Gleeson’s family had about 300 cows on 350 acres.

“Growing up that’s just the normal thing to have so much land and for your closest neighbours to be hundreds of metres away,” he said.

“Coming down to Melbourne it’s a lot different, you’re lucky if you’ve got a backyard two metres by metres.”

Gleeson’s father would start work before the sun came up and sometimes not return from running the family dairy farm until after 8pm.

“They are pretty long days and it’s 365 days per year … which is pretty tough but they’re passionate about it and they enjoy it as well,” Gleeson said.

Throughout his formative years, Gleeson learnt that when you need a hand in the country, people are there to offer some help.

Now, when he does head back home, Gleeson, a veteran of 56 AFL games, spends time helping Koroit’s next wave of young players.

“They saw a need for kids from 12-18 (years of age) - unless you’re in the representative squads there is not much there if you want to improve your footy - so they’ve got together a lot of the good footy coaches from the area to pass on their knowledge to the kids and I’m going to help them do that as well,” Gleeson said.

Gleeson uses the breaks at the end of the season and around Christmas to head home.

At 22, retirement appears some way off but Gleeson knows where he wants to be when his playing days come to an end.

“I think I’ll move back to the country but I probably won’t be a farmer, I’ll leave that to my brothers, but I do love the country,” he said.

“I definitely will be out of Melbourne as soon as I can … a few acres and a house would be lovely.”