IT is almost impossible to watch Gavin Field play with the Cockburn Cougars and not wish he had some more support but also that he could be greatest SBL player of all-time as he now reaches 250 games to close the 2019 season.
Field has now put together a remarkable career stretching 249 games with a Cockburn club that he was always destined to play at where he’s now a life member alongside his grandad, father and mother.
The club has been home to him since he was a youngster running around while the 1992 team celebrated a championship and now has been ever since he returned from his outstanding college career at West Georgia.
Despite the lures of playing elsewhere in the SBL and across the country, and the potential of playing professionally overseas, once Field came home from college that’s where he wanted to stay and that meant never ever entertaining the idea of playing outside of Cockburn.
That’s led to some frustrating times where resources have meant the club simply struggles to compete with the powerhouses of the competition and it means Field has to drive himself into the ground night after night playing nearly 40 minutes.
But he does it because he is the ultimate competitor and because of the love he has for the club, and there has been success along the way with the championship triumph of 2012 and then again in 2016 even if came with a tinge of heartbreak as he sat out the Grand Final with a career-threatening elbow injury.
However, now over the course of a 249-game career that began in 2007, Field has cemented himself as what he always set out to do – one of the best Cockburn Cougars players ever.
Without question no matter what Field achieves the rest of his career, he has accomplished that and he has to be in the discussion of the best ever SBL player – certainly the most loyal, respected and hardest working.
No matter what he is asked to do for his club, Field does it even if it means running the point or banging bodies inside as a centre. His best position is always the three spot and that’s where he thrives, but no matter where he plays the Cougars are better for having him out there.
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Now Field will close the 2019 regular season by celebrating his 250th SBL appearance for the Cougars when Cockburn hosts the East Perth Eagles at Wally Hagan Stadium on Saturday night.
Never someone who wants the limelight, Field is just happy for the recognition a milestone like 250 games brings for the loyal and unwavering service he continues to provide the Cougars.
“Because of the couple of injuries I had I actually thought it would be my 249th and that I wouldn’t get there this year and would have to play it on the first game next year,” Field said.
“But it’s just nice for me who has obviously given so much to the club that there is that celebration, not that I want that attention on myself. But sometimes it is nice to just get that acknowledgement like Joel Wagner got with the Redbacks here tonight.
“Getting that acknowledgement is nice and I’ve organised with Tyrone that each kid in my class that I teach can get into the game for free and even some of the teaches I work with are coming to the game. Getting those kids through the door to experience it with me are memories you will take with you forever.”
While his dad and sister won’t be there for his milestone game on Saturday night, his mother and wife will be as will hopefully plenty of students he now teaches at school in what’s becoming one of his life’s true passions.
“My mum and dad have been amazing supporters of mine and ironically my dad and sister are actually over in Melbourne this weekend doing a footy trip so they won’t actually be here so it will only be my mum, and my wife obviously,” he said.
“Anyone who knows my dad, he is a quiet man and he’s a bit upset that he can’t be here for my 250th milestone but he’s seen most of them along the way. I am looking forward to it though.”
Speaking of his mother, she received her life membership at the Cougars earlier this month in what was something that might mean even more to Field than anything he’s achieved in his career.
“Right now, mum is the fourth one to get life membership. There’s my pop, my dad, me as a player and now my mum. We’ve been at that club since it started and my mum has been doing everything since as far back as the early 1990s,” Field said.
“I think I was more proud of her getting the life membership than when I got it because all I do is play basketball.
“But she continues to cook the best post-game feed in the league and spends her whole Friday doing that. I was very happy that mum got that acknowledgment and rightfully so, and it’s been a long-time coming.”
Field might be a little shy talking about himself when everything he does is with an eye to putting Cockburn first, but what he has achieved over 249 games is now remarkable and there’s no signs of him slowing down.
He remains a genuine MVP candidate again for his 2019 season and over the course of those 249 games, he’s now amassed 4528 points, 1748 rebounds and 852 assists all while doing it carrying a heavy burden.
That’s what makes his shooting percentages of 45.4 per cent from the field, 36.3 per cent from three and 82.2 per cent from the foul line all the more impressive because of the focus opposition teams put on him and the clutch moments he puts his reputation on the line.
Field has always made no secret of wanting to be Cockburn’s best ever player, but he doesn’t understand why anyone who plays shouldn’t have that same mindset.
“I don’t like talking about myself, but you like to still get some acknowledgement and I’ve always set my sights on being the best ever Cockburn player. That’s not being cocky, but I don’t see any point playing if you aren’t aiming to be the best,” he said.
“Anyone on my team should say they want to be the best player in Cockburn’s history, that’s the way athletes are. But I just enjoy playing basketball with my mates and I just go out there to do what I can, and what I do. I want to keep doing it for as long as I keep doing it.”
While Field has been part of two championship seasons at Cockburn where he’s certainly been surrounded by top-level talent, for much of his career he has been battling against the odds without the type of help other clubs can surround their stars with.
That has been magnified over the past two seasons and then especially in 2019, where for half the season they didn’t have an import at all and the other they had Eric Milam who wasn’t the same player he was on his first stint with Cockburn.
Then there’s been Julian Pesava, Steven Van Lit, Seva Chan and Jaarod Holmes as senior players who have missed significant time for one reason or another only magnifying the reliance on Field.
In typical fashion, he has just gone out and performed at a remarkable level no matter what odds have been stacked against him and he will continue to do that for as long as his body and life allows him to.
But if he had any say in the matter, having two quality imports to bank on and take the pressure off not only himself but also the likes of Holmes, Chan and Pesava would be high up on his wish list for 2020.
“In an ideal world, I’d love for us to get two imports because you are always fighting from behind if you only have one or zero imports. But really I’d just like some more help,” Field said.
“Obviously we do have help and stuff goes on behind the scenes, but for me what would make the world of difference is getting two import quality players to give me a five-minute breather. If I get that breather, that puts Jaarod playing 25 hard minutes instead of 35 where he can get gassed.
“Or we can bring in Jakob Knight to play 20 hard minutes and he’s an energizer bunny. After he played 35 minutes one night, he joked to me that now he realises why I don’t go 100 per cent all the time because you physically cannot do it for 35 minutes.
“If those people can play their roles with our two import level players, we have everything we need here for success. We have a solid core group and if we added those two imports, we’d have everything else to fall in place.
“But unfortunately if we can’t get that, hopefully we can just get some more help in some form so we all don’t have to play so much that we are gassed.”
The Cougars players know that most nights they hit the floor they are up against it in terms of talent, but what Cockburn continues to be respected for is that fighting spirit and Field will always be proud of being such a key part in that.
“We joke about it among ourselves and even in the starting five we look at each other, and go ‘These are the Cockburn kids, let’s go and play Cockburn basketball,” Field said.
“We make a joke about it but for me it’s about seeing the young kids developing and it’s moments like when Jakob Knight has a game like he did against Stirling when he had 24 points and hit the game-winner.
“Hayden Bell has come over to us this year and hit another game-winner for us so seeing the young kids come through is what means everything to me.
“I’ve always said I want to hang around until the next person knocks me out of my position with the vision of leaving the place better than when I walked in. That’s what this season was about to get opportunities for them and even if it’s three or four minutes in one game, we are getting that done.”
Life away from basketball is turning out well for Field too and with a happy wife and puppy at home, his school teaching is proving his ideal career choice as well.
“It is easily the best job you can have. To see the development of some of the kids that I’ve now had coming up to two years, and some of them have just blossomed like crazy and that’s what you get the joy from,” Field said.
“Obviously you get the moments you want to strangle them, but at the end of the day seeing their growth is amazing.
“Some of them have already come to a couple of games and hearing them talk about coming to my basketball games is pretty special. If I can get one of them into basketball because of it, then I’ve done my job.”