By Sam Watson
PHILLIP Island’s 2019 senior premiership flag was unfurled on Easter Saturday, and two people had the duty of raising it up the pole in honour of a very special person at the club.
Those two were Shayne and Jess Gislingham, the son and grandson of Phillip Island life member Jim ‘Gizza’ Gislingham, who passed away in October last year.
Gislingham manned the top gate at Phillip Island’s home games for more than 30 years, always providing a smiling face to those coming into the footy and netball.
In 2019, after a day of torrential rain and gale force winds at Phillip Island, ‘Gizza’ decided it was time to let someone else have a crack on the gate.
At 87-years-old, who could blame him?
Gislingham arrived at Phillip Island in 1987 when his son Shayne started playing in seniors and he thought he’d get involved by helping on the gate.
Little did the club know that he’d be there for the next 30 years.
When Gislingham first started on the gate, there was no shelter, they had to sit in the boot of a Holden station wagon with a couple of tin sheets off the back.
But that didn’t seem to waive his enthusiasm to get people through the gate at the Cowes Recreation Reserve.
His son Shayne’s senior career at Phillip Island included three grand finals, a win, a draw and a loss, then he moved into the reserves where he played in two more grand finals.
A knee injury brought an end to his career in 1999 but it wasn’t too long until the next Gislingham was in the red, white and blue.
As soon as he could kick a footy, Shayne’s son Jess was playing AusKick at Phillip Island and soon transitioned into the under 11s and then onto Saturday football.
Jess, who is now 19, also knows a bit about the silverware, winning grand finals in the under 14s and under 18s.
There are no doubts about Jess’ love for the Bulldogs, so he was over the moon to be able to honour his pop and unfurl the premiership flag.
Shayne said the chance to share that experience with his son was something he would cherish forever.
“It was pretty special, Jess was so proud, it meant a lot to be asked,” Shayne said.
Unfortunately, the Gislingham’s also lost their matriarch, Jim’s wife Adele, at the age of 95 last year so both Shayne and Jess said they unfurled the flag in honour of Nan too.
“We did have a bit of emotion, just quietly,” Shayne said. “I had my sunnies with me just in case.”
Shayne’s wife Carol, who photographs all of the football games, was capturing all of those emotional moments with her camera.
Shayne said his parents weren’t the kind of people who ever wanted to be recognised but it was nice to see them honoured by the club when they passed.
“They’ve been good club people and community people for a long time.”
Shayne said it would take a fair bit of time before he got used to not seeing his old man on the top gate at Phillip Island.
“We always would take him up a coffee and a doughnut and have a yak to him.”
But he and his family will continue to support their beloved club into the future and do their best to carry on the legacy Jim and Adele have left behind.
“The club means heaps, I can’t find the words, I just love the club.”