The Greenings – Goals galore… and still plenty more
The Greening family have certainly been the footballing G–Force both here on the Isle of Wight and in Australian stretching back over the past 60 years.
The amazing family goal tally in football matches played by Brian Greening, his son Steve and grandson David stands at well over 2,000 – and it’s still rising, albeit some 10,000 miles away on the other side of the world.
Locally, Brian is perhaps more famous for writing his Island books, but many still remember him as a skilful footballer with a knack for poaching goals. If he was still playing today they could monitor just how far he ran in a match. Some reckon it would be about 800 yards – and that would be for a whole season!
When he played for Whitecroft they had a ‘Spot the Brian Greening Pass’ competition – and it was usually won by a ticket holder with the 89th minute. Brian broke with tradition on one occasion when he set up son Steve for a hat-trick, when they played in the same Whitecroft team. Grandson David, now breaking scoring records Down Under, never saw him play, but said: “I do know all about him. Granddad told me just how good a player he was!”
The Saunders-Roe redundancies in the 1950s meant East Cowes Vics lost some of their best players as they moved to the mainland for new jobs. It gave Brian and his ilk a chance of Island senior soccer. Eventually he left to become a semi-professional with Sandown. It proved to be a decision he regretted, despite being paid £2.50 a week to play. In fact, he was only earning £10 a week from his day job at the time.
“In one amazing game we were 7-0 up against East Cowes Vics and only won 7-6 in the end. Another five minutes and we would have lost,” he recalled.
In subsequent Island League soccer he played for both Barton Sports and Parkhurst. For the latter he played in what has been described as the best game ever seen on the Island, when Seaview beat Parkhurst 7-6, at Seaclose. In 1966 Brian signed for Whitecroft. He retired there after scoring over 500 goals, to bring his total aggregate to close on 1,000 career goals.
Steve grew up watching dad play for Whitecroft and for a while they played in the same team. He eventually moved to East Cowes Vics and at Whippingham he became one of the most feared strikers in the Hampshire League, and in 1986 they became the first Island team of all local players to win the title.
The year of 1987 was rather special for Steve as he scored his 200th goal for the club, during a 9-2 win over Winchester Castle. Both Steve and Gareth Williams left the Vics to play Southern Premier League football for Gosport, and within a few months Gareth signed for Aston Villa.
Steve says local coaches like Graham Daish, John Carragher and Roger North did such a lot for him, but he admits he may not have appreciated it when he was younger. He moved on to Basingstoke and later played for Ryde Sports, Newport, Brading and Oakfield, ending up at Seaview, where he even played in goal. He retired around the age of 40, with a goal tally of around 800.
David, Steve’s son, was deemed too small to be a striker and was not a regular in the Medina High School team but impressed in youth football for Downside and Newport Youth. In his first game for East Cowes Vics he scored four goals against Andover and for Cowes Sports it was another four, against Thatcham. During one season in the Wessex League he scored more goals than Poole Town’s Charlie Austin, who went on to play for Swindon, Burnley, QPR and now Southampton.
David obtained a degree at University and was keen to become a teacher but it was tough to even get on a course, with so many chasing the limited opportunities. He was advised that Australia had great potential and after his initial training he obtained a job in 2010 at Boneo Primary School, on the Mornington Peninsula. On the football field he won the golden boot for his Australian university team, La Trobe.
Not surprisingly, his goal scoring talents were eventually seized on by Seaford United and he set a new Victorian State record with 42 in a season. He hit 150 goals for them in four seasons and they won two promotions.
“In 2015 a few of us guys formed our own club, Rosebud Heart, and we had to build it up from nothing. We were third in our first season and I managed 42 goals. The following year we won everything and got promoted.”
The goals have still kept coming as the team have climbed the divisions. He wants to play for as long as he can and then move into coaching. He mused: ”What I do miss is not playing in special matches like the FA Cup and the FA Vase, which I enjoyed so much in England.”
So back to Brian, head of the goalscoring dynasty, for the last word. He said, “When I played for Parkhurst we needed to boost our goal difference and won 29-0 against Sandown Reserves. Alan Bowen got eight and I got seven — and we didn’t score for the first 15 minutes.” I bet his grandson has heard that story a few times!