Milestone for Comet
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
LIKE Buddha, Brenden Pellegrino has learnt over 199 first grade games with the Comets that wisdom comes from age and experience, not merely from knowledge.
Speaking to the veteran about his memories of his 12 years at Coffs Harbour prior to his milestone game this weekend, you get the impression that Pellegrino has learnt to appreciate what's going on around him more than he did as a young man.
"As you get older you try and take stock of things as you're doing them, whereas when you're young you just do it, he said.
"If you reach Grand Finals, you hear the old blokes say 'Enjoy it because it will never happen again', and you laugh thinking you're going to play in 50 of them.
"You realise now as an older player that you should enjoy it as it comes rather than expecting it to be there all the time."
Some people really don't pay much attention to these sort of milestones, but Pellegrino feels honoured to have joined such company.
"To play 200 games with one club is enormous in the country because I don't think too many blokes achieve that," he said.
"To do it with the one club means a hell of a lot."
After 12 years Pellegrino has become part of the furniture at Advocate Park, but don't think age has matured him.
"Probably pesty furniture, yeah I'm still a pest," he joked.
But has the club changed over the 12 years that 'Branga' as he is known, has been there?
"It's proabably changed, where I am now you're probably trying to give something back and trying to help develop kids coming through to keep the Comets going basically."
Can any of Pellegrino's best memories of his time at Coffs Harbour be printed?
"Not really I don't think," he said with his trademark cheeky grin coming over his face.
"The '97 Grand Final was good. It was good to get there, not a good day because you lose.
"But it's just the overall years, it's fun."
Tomorrow, an injury to captain Bert Gray means that Pellegrino has been given the honour of leading his team onto the field of battle in a game that the Comets have struggled to win in recent years.
If there's a bogey team for Coffs Harbour, then it has to be Port Macquarie. Especially when the match is played at the Sharks home ground down the highway.
Many people believe that the travel is a factor in the Comets' poor performances at Port Macquarie, but the utility forward won't hear anything of that theory.
"These blokes around here just don't know what travelling is about," he said.
"When I played Group 19 our closest game was 100 kilometres away and it was an hour and that was our least amount of travelling
"We used to travel to Moree which was six hours there and back
"When I first came to this group Kempsey was the furthest town you went to and it only took an hour and blokes were whinging about it and I thought 'What was wrong with you blokes?'.
"It's just a mental thing. We've got the capability and the players to do it, we just mentally can't travel.
Pellegrino believes a lot of footballers are also too concerned about their opposition and maybe that explains the Comets failures at Port Macquarie over the years.
"People get too caried away with who they're playing," he said.
"You can control what you do, you can't control what they do.
"You look after your own paddock and the rest of it looks after itself."
Wise words indeed from a wise man.
If the Comets are looking for any additional good fortune prior to tomorrow's kick-off at Port Macquarie, they can always walk up to their captain before the game and rub his belly for luck.