FLASH RETURNS: Gordon honours Raiders’ promise
WHEN Michael Gordon left Les Burger Field in his rear view mirror to pursue his NRL career, he made himself a promise he would return to the ground that had instilled his love of rugby league.
Now, the 36-year-old fullback is fulfilling that promise, returning to play this season with the Tweed Coast Raiders, the club he played for as a six-year-old.
Last season he retired after seeing out his career with the Gold Coast Titans.
Gordon is still on the coaching staff full-time but when he isn't on the field or surfing, you can find him at his business Kartel Expresso at Cabarita.
He and his wife Tess brought the coffee shop just over a year ago and it has become a hotspot for locals and Raiders club members alike.
The move back to the Tweed Coast has seen him link up with another former NRL star and Raiders coach, Brent Kite.
Kite managed to take the Raiders to their first premiership in 2018 but fell short of repeat glory last season.
"We are rapt to have Michael join the team, not just with what he will bring on field but just with a buzz around the joint," Kite said.
"The guys are keen to get down here and people are keen to support, the local juniors and some of Michael's experience is going to be really good for us as a team."
The club has returned to training after taking a break for Christmas from pre-season which began mid-November.
But Gordon doesn't want any special treatment.
"To start with I just want to find my place in the team and be one of the boys, really," he said.
"I want to come and train hard and play my part in the team and try and give them any pointers I can along the way."
"I started playing here in under-7s and it's taken me a while to get back but I would always come back and watch them every time I could.
"Watching the passion they play with and what Kitey has brought to the team, the club and the community as a whole.
"It's such a great club and it's something I have always wanted to do."
Kite has high hopes for the coming season, determined to work on motivation and guard against complacency.
"We fell a bit short last year. It's hard to back it up and keep up the motivation. We lost a few players, some of our better young players moved on to higher honours which is great but this year has a really good feel again," he said.
"We will be working on our mindset and attitude. That is where having Micky and Matt Keating, who has been assisting at Burleigh Heads, on board is fantastic. We are definitely leaning on (Keating) and he has already brought a couple of fresh perspectives, just a different voice as well as Mick.
"I am looking to learn from these guys who have been there and done that and hopefully implement that into the way we play and see some good results from that."
Kite hopes Gordon finds the home he did at the Raiders.
"My move was a lifestyle move not a career move and the Raiders really fit in with that," he said.
"I found a real home here and the fact it was a volunteer club, it was really getting back to grassroots footy.
When it came to coaching, Kite said he came to a "fork in the road" - to pursue a coaching career which would take him to the next level or just enjoy coaching for the love of it.
Gordon said he was looking forward to rubbing shoulders with other NRL greats such as Luke Douglas who will captain-coach Ballina this year.
"I think it's good for grassroots footy and good for the guys who enjoy getting back to the love of the game and having the camaraderie and doing it all for a beer at the end of the game. My contract is a meat pie and a beer," he said with a laugh.
The question remains, can the man known as 'Flash' still take a hit as well as he can make a coffee? Time will tell.