Gavin Field set himself the goal of reaching 300 games with the Cockburn Cougars and he achieves that mark on Friday night in Rockingham, but it’s the fact he can now share his career with his young family that is making it more special.
Field grew up as part of the Cougar Family at Wally Hagan Stadium, his first basketball memory was Rod Baker lifting him up for a dunk as a three-year-old and he always dreamed of becoming the third generation of his family to play basketball with Cockburn.
Following on from both his grandfather and father, Field was destined to end up becoming what he now is, and that’s an all-time great of the Cougars as he prepares to play his 300th game this Friday night against the Flames in Rockingham.
Pride in reaching goal of 300 games
It’s been a remarkable journey for Field to reach the 300 games having made his first SBL appearance back in 2007 before his college career at the University of West Georgia.
Upon settling back home and while he did have a stint as an NBL development player at the Perth Wildcats, it’s with the Cougars where he’s cemented his legacy as a championship winner, six-time club MVP and not only one of the best to ever play with Cockburn, one of the best the league has seen.
As one of the most pure scorers the league has seen with a jump shot that is unguardable given his length, but then such a strong all-round game and being so committed and dedicated to Cockburn, it’s quite the Field family legacy that he has been able to continue.
Getting to 300 games is something that means a lot to Field and especially to get to share it with wife Audrey, and their children Iris and Wesley.
“It actually does mean a lot. It might have been five or six years ago now, but before I even hit 200 I said to my wife that 300 is my number,” Field said.
“I thought it sounded like a great number to get to and I felt if I played 300 then I would be happy, that would be my goal. It just sounds good and I know I’m only one of 40-something people to do it in the league and probably only one of 10 or so people to do it with one club.
“There are guys like Purser, Wagner, Wundenberg, Ralphy and Godfrey isn’t far away who have done it at the one club, and that makes it even more special.
“All those guys have had that loyalty to stay at their clubs, we’ve all won a championship along the way and that’s helped along the way. I always felt if I hit 300 I could be happy with that and so it means a lot to get there now.”
Continuing the family legacy
With his pop and parents also life members at Cockburn, and his sister Lauren having also spent much of her life around the Cougars, it’s such a family affair for Field with his daughter Iris now becoming the fourth generation to be playing at the club.
“It’s just my family’s club. My pop started in the juniors and unfortunately he just passed away over the Christmas holidays, but it’s the club I’ve grown up with and now last term my daughter started playing down there,” he said.
“So now there’s the fourth generation of my family down there playing there so that’s pretty special. To be able to do it all with one club, it’s the way I am and maybe sometimes I’m loyal to a fault with most things in my life.”
Pride in doing it for the one club
Reaching 300 games playing in the SBL/NBL1 West is an achievement in itself, but for Field he has no doubt it takes on extra significance knowing that he’s spent his whole career with the Cougars, and that’s not going to change.
“It’s just very special that I can say I’ve played 300 games with this one team, one club even though a lot of things have changed over that time,” Field said.
“But still I’ve got those memories in the stadium and Rod Baker is going to do the presenting for the milestone and he’s actually my very first basketball memory. He was coaching me in mini-ball and I still remember him picking me up to dunk it, and that’s the first thing I can remember about basketball.
“To have someone like that come along for my milestone and all those other people helping from when I was three to 33, and are still there watching and supporting me, and still part of it and that’s the most special part is sharing it with those people who have been there for my whole life.”
Sharing the journey now with young family
Not only has Field’s daughter Iris now started playing down at Cockburn as well, but for him to share the whole experience playing with her being able to watch him, cheer him on and then even come stretch with him after the game that could be the highlight of everything he’s done over 300 games.
He doesn’t want that experience to end and he wants eight-month-old Wesley to be able to do the same thing with him too so there’s no end in sight to his career just yet as he gets to the 300-game mark.
“It’s just something that keeps me going and when people ask how many years have you got left, that’s one of the key things,” he said.
“When both she and when Wesley gets a bit older, if they want to keep watching me then maybe I keep playing for that reason if my body and everything else keeps allowing me to.
“It’s quite special to have here there, though, and when we do our warm down stretches at the end of the game she comes down and does it with us at the home games. That’s something is pretty cool and I’ll treasure that memory forever to have my little follower mimicking me.
“Unfortunately for me, dad retired before I was born because he had knee injuries so I didn’t actually get to see him play even though we did get to play in the domestic comp together.
“But hopefully she has those memories going forward and for me it’s pretty special to have her warm up and warm down, and be part of it. I come off and can hear her screaming “go daddy” so it’s quite nice.”
Remaining positive for 2023 outlook despite tough start
As for the Cougars team of 2023 that Field is part of, it’s fair to say it has been anything but the ideal start with the four losses, including horror showings against the Willetton Tigers and Geraldton Buccaneers at Wally Hagan Stadium.
However, the signs were better in the first meeting with Rockingham and then for three and-a-half quarters last Friday away to Lakeside. Field is hoping for a strong showing against the Flames on the road this Friday.
“The older you get the more you realise that these things can happen. We’ve had a couple of games now this season where everything has gone wrong, and defensively we haven’t been able to guard anyone and offensively we’ve gone away from what we want to do,” Field said.
“Obviously we’re integrating two new imports still but that’s still no excuse to have lack of ball movement, player movement and people just doing their one-on-one stuff.
“We’ve all done a lot of thinking about it and know that we have to be a lot more team oriented. We did do a better job against Rockingham and if we played 90 per cent of the league, we probably beat most teams by 20 but they have so much firepower they were still able to beat us.
“It’s disappointing we weren’t even to build on that better performance but hopefully we can start getting things together this week now against that Rockingham team again.”
Field remains confident that despite the 0-4 start that the Cougars can get things together this season on the back of a team that made the top four a season ago.
Continuing to blend in new signings Courtney Alexander II, Taj Benning and Kieran Berry is something he feels will hold them in good stead as the season progresses.
“The key thing for us in introducing Taj and Courtney in getting them to know our style of play, and for us to learn their style of play,” Field said.
“Once we have that chemistry, I think everything’s there for this team to be successful and bringing in someone like KB to come off the bench especially after losing Matt Clifford who was such an important player and leader for us, gives us that extra quality of someone who could be a starter.
“We feel like we’re building but it’s just about putting those components together, and now that our imports have been here for a few weeks, our trainings have been a lot stronger and more competitive, and we just need to show that in games and start getting some wins on the board.”