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'Pay it Forward' is a marvellously inspirational tale of sportsmanship, mentoring and redemption
across three generations of Australian Rules Football.

At the centre of it all is a young man called David Conway.

Five years ago he was a rising teenage AFL star and on the way to a solid sporting career. But
behind the facade, David Conway was struggling with unresolved childhood demons.

When his thoughts turned to suicide, his desperate mother cold called his hero, Carlton premiership
player Glenn Manton and asked for help.

In an act of compassion, Glenn Manton opened his home and his heart to David Conway and mentored
him on the path to recovery.

It turned out to be a case of history repeating itself in a profoundly moving way.

PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT: Monday, 28 June , 2010

PETER FITZSIMONS, PRESENTER: Good evening. My name is Peter Fitzsimons, you may know me as a sports
journalist or an author. Tonight's program is an inspirational tale of sportsmanship, mentoring and
redemption across three generations of Aussie Rules footballers. Right at its heart is a young man
by the name David Conway. And when his life began to unravel five years ago it was the legendary
Carlton footballer, Glenn Manton, who rode to the rescue. This proved to be a case of history
repeating itself in a profoundly moving way. This is the story of three men.

DAVID CONWAY: When I wasn't drafted into the AFL, I was shattered because I had worked very hard
and believed that given the opportunity I would have succeeded. I came so close and it took a very
long time to accept that it wasn't going to happen. But the fact is that I ended up getting more
out of football in meeting Glenn than ever I could have got if I had of actually made it.

GREG CONWAY, FATHER: Glenn was aspirational to be with because he was a famous footballer for
Carlton Football Club. And the magic that he's used, has worked in supporting and changing David's
life for the better.

FIONA CONWAY, MOTHER: I was in complete despair. I did not know where to go or what to do and I
knew if I didn't do anything we could lose our son, our only son. He embraced David unconditionally
and the friendship that stems as a result of that first initial meeting is just amazing, it's

GLENN MANTON: I am a role model. Probably criticised there for using that word at that time, but
that's how passionate I feel about it. I'm a teacher by trade as such, so to stand up before young
people and teach was a great basis to then branch off into public speaking and more motivational
school-based work. But make no mistake, without my background in AFL football and sports in general
and the media, I wouldn't have had a platform to move into that space.

DAVID CONWAY: It's an interesting story, meeting Glenn. Football for Glenn and I was definitely the
catalyst to bring us together. Football was my savoir. It was my life. I represented my state in
under 15s, 16, 17s and 18s. I played the national championships four times. I was captain of
NSW-ACT. I'd also won most valuable player for that team and also got the Rising Star Award for
Best Player from the NSW-ACT at the National championships. And then the AFL had organized for
motivational speakers to come and address all the boys. Anyway, Glenn Manton came through the door
and I was stoked. Glenn Manton was part of the 1995 premiership side that Carlton played in and for
me as a child, that was still my favourite, absolute favourite year of football. I just loved the
Carlton football club.

GLENN MANTON: I was employed by the AFL on that particular day and I remember thinking that that
was quite an achievement for me, 'cause I was somewhat of the black sheep in terms of AFL circles,
doing things in an unusual fashion. I just remember thinking, 'Wow, the AFL's actually employed me
to speak to some young people. I don't want to cock this up. I want to try and do a good job and
get this right.'

DAVID CONWAY: And he started talking about a cake and we were all like 'Who is this guy?' It was
completely from left field. He was so different. Like, he looked different. He dressed different.
And he started speaking and he sat there and something right inside me just connected with what he
was saying. It was like he was talking to my soul almost.

FIONA CONWAY, MOTHER: And he spoke for weeks after the championship about how much it meant to him
and that he seemed to understand what David wanted out of football and out of life.

DAVID CONWAY: For the first time I think I found someone who I really sort of clicked with who I
wanted to be, like who I was, and who would understand where I was coming from.

FIONA CONWAY, MOTHER: And it was soon after that when the football was over, there was no more
training that David fell into a really deep depression.

DAVID CONWAY: The Conways were very close knit. Every Saturday we had a family property which all
five families would go to. Dad has five brothers and a sister. Most of my childhood memories are
spent with all my uncles and aunties and all my cousins on motorbikes and playing footy. We were
very, very close.

FIONA CONWAY, MOTHER: It was a great environment I thought to be involved in. And seeing the kids
grow up. You know it never crossed our mind that there was a predator laying in the midst of all
this. The offender was Frank Collins, Greg's sister's husband and they lived with Greg's parents.
So he had a great deal of access to my children. I trusted this man. I always had family looking
after my children and they would be the prime carers of my children if I went out. We had a party
to go out to three nights before Christmas. We came back about one o'clock in the morning and I
sensed something was wrong. David was clearly distressed about something.

DAVID CONWAY: The really bad night, I knew that I had to tell. I knew that when I woke up that it
had gone too far. I was eight years old and I knew that it was wrong and even as a kid I just knew
it was wrong and I just got up the courage and I knew when I hit him I said goodbye to my
childhood. I knew that my family would fall apart.

FIONA CONWAY, MOTHER: He came into our room about six in the morning and told Greg that Frank had
been touching him and that on the final occasion Frank had orally raped him.

DAVID CONWAY: And my dad's face. It crushed me. It crushed me.

GREG CONWAY, FATHER: It's like a death. It's a very traumatic event and you never recover from it I
think - the fact that you, as a husband, you are unable to change those events that occurred. It's
always with you.

FIONA CONWAY, MOTHER: It was like being hit by a truck. We didn't know how to react. It took a long
time for us to, for it to sink in that this had occurred. We reassured him that we believed him
straight away, Greg was terrific, he'd told him how great it was that he came and spoke to us about
it, that we completely believed him, he was safe. We wouldn't put him in a position where he would
be anywhere near Frank. So we immediately assured him that he was okay.

GREG CONWAY, FATHER: When Frank was charged and convicted my sister Kathryn elected to stay with
her husband who was a paedophile. We found that very disappointing. My son lost his childhood, and
the innocence of a child, the most precious years of your life. He also lost access to his
grandmother and grandfather, uncles and aunties and cousins that he was used to seeing every
weekend. So even many years after that conviction our family is fragmented and splintered as a

FIONA CONWAY, MOTHER: The sad thing in abuse cases is that the offender walks away and his term is
very short in terms of dealing with the consequences. We have a life sentence. The abuse affected
David far worse as he got older. He understood the violation and he became very aggressive. And he
wasn't able to articulate it. He was very difficult to try and reason with when he actually got
into one of these experiences of being angry and throwing himself about and physically hurting
himself. And we sought help and we saw psychiatrists. We had him on anti-depressants and none of
these things really helped.

DAVID CONWAY: I became extremely guilty that my family had been destroyed and that my father wasn't
close with his brothers and everyone just seemed to fall apart. I became just emotionally drained
and I was so angry with everything. I felt as if being abused meant that I'm scarred for life. I
wanted to kill myself.

FIONA CONWAY, MOTHER: At this stage he was 15 and he went into a really dark place.

DAVID CONWAY: It was scary because I'm a very proud man. I'm a very proud person and the fact that
I contemplated doing that to myself, it shattered me even more.

FIONA CONWAY, MOTHER: And there was a place called Suicide rock, so when he took off I remember
taking off in my pyjamas to Suicide Rock to make sure he wasn't there and we found him a few hours
later and he was all very dishevelled and distressed and angry. And I remember thinking if we don't
do something we are going to lose this boy. I was so desperate for someone to intervene and to say
to David that he will get through this, that he will walk out of this shadow that was encompassing
him. The only alternative I felt I had left was to get in contact with Glenn Manton. I said, 'Hi,
you don't know me...'

GLENN MANTON: Dave's mother had a very desperate tone to her voice, an incredible concern.

FIONA CONWAY, MOTHER: I said 'Hi Glenn you don't know me but my son heard you speak in Adelaide and
he's in a very dark place and I was wondering whether you could take a phone call from him and just
reassure him that life is worth living. He's a great kid and he has plenty of things to look
forward to in his life'.

GLENN MANTON: Now I've dealt with a lot of young people in troubled circumstances, but on a scale
of one to 10, this was pushing 12. You could tell that it was the 11th hour. You could tell that
something had to happen.

FIONA CONWAY, MOTHER: He said, put David on the first available flight and I want him to come and
stay with me and my kids and my family. I mean who does that, a complete stranger. We didn't tell
David. We just said that you were going to have a couple of weeks off, that we were quite concerned
about his mental state and that he just needed time out. So my sister Lisa picked him up from the
airport, drove him to Glenn's place, and stopped at the door and said 'David grab your bag, get out
and knock on the door'.

DAVID CONWAY: And the door opened and it was Glenn Manton. And he told me I was going to be
spending the next few days with him. I was in shock. My aunty came up to me and said, 'David, it's
all right, you can speak'. He's one of my heroes and I was going to spend a few days with him. I
had no idea what that meant and I couldn't have even imagined what he had organised. And then he
said, 'Oh mate, we're going to go out. We're going to go to the gym.' I was like, 'Are you kidding?
It's 10 o'clock at night!'

GLENN MANTON: It was the sort of scenario where you needed to cut to the chase, that he literally
was one average thought away from taking his own life and that's a horrible space to be in. And he
was very honest and upfront with everything that had happened in his world and was happening at the
time. Dave was carrying significant baggage. He was off on the flight with well over the baggage
limit and, um, I was just damned if I was going to allow him to go through life carrying all that

DAVID CONWAY: He's just got an unbelievable talent. His skill is to communicate with youth. He
would tell me that he didn't care what had happened in the sense that it had happened and there was
not much he could do about it. And as much as it angered him what he genuinely cared about me was
moving forward. I'd met a lot of people who felt sorry for me. They really sort of pushed me into
the box of being this kid that was sexually abused, but Glenn didn't. He saw me as a 16 year old
man wanting to achieve things, to achieve great things, and he believed that I could do it. The
fact that I was sexually abused, for him, wasn't anything to do with who I was going to be in the
future. The next few days, Glenn and I would do a lot of talking of a night time. We would go down
by the water on the pier at Williamstown.

GLENN MANTON: I had had great experience in working with young people who had come from all sorts
of negative issues in their life. Some of them through sexual misconduct and so forth, but none
that I had been so close to the flame with. So for me it was an eye opening experience as well.

DAVID CONWAY: He took me to the MCG, the holy grail for any young footballer and it was possibly
the best day of my life. As somebody that was aspiring to play in the AFL, it was a real
pick-me-up. I really started to believe that I could play there one day.

GREG CONWAY, FATHER: You know Glenn was able to do what the psychologists weren't able to do and
that engagement resulted in an upward spiral for David and a very positive way forward.

DAVID CONWAY: When I came back from that week with Glenn, I was flying high. I was the best I've
ever been. I felt liberated and I felt like a weight was off my shoulder. And I was so pumped up
and believed that the future was where I was going. I was going to be able to achieve anything that
I set my mind to. And I used to wonder why would he do this for a complete stranger, why would he,
you know, invite me into his home and spend all this time with him? He's a busy man. And then I
learnt that he had a mentor. He had someone too, who helped him out. And this mentor was a man
named by Alec Epis who was a legend at the Essendon Football Club.

(Excerpt from VFL Grand Final 1965, Essendon v St Kilda, ABC)

REPORTER: Known as 'the Kooka', Essendon's Alec Epis is regarded as one of the most brilliant half
back flankers the game has ever seen.

(End of excerpt)

GLENN MANTON: Well I'm Alec Epis's Dave, if you will. My story's very different to Dave's but the
bottom line that common denominator is there. Somebody needed to step in and act as the conduit.
Somebody needed to act the rock. I'd recently just recovered from an injury that I'd sustained to
my right elbow where I'd put it through a two and a half inch thick glass window, was told I'd
never use my arm again in any way, shape or form, so my life was in a very tumultuous state. Young
man out on the town looking to impress a woman, or a girl, looking to impress friends, slash
followers, looking to impress himself beyond just the mirror. Alcohol. Violence. All of a sudden
Alec steps in and away we go.

ALEC EPIS, FORMER ESSENDON PLAYER: I told him that I would help him with the approval of the coach,
which was Kevin Sheedy, that if he wanted me to help him he had to abide by certain rules and that
I had written down you know. Things like he had to be on time and he must never answer me back
because I'm right.

(Excerpt of Epis and Manton talking)

GLENN MANTON: I remember the very first day I came here I was about fifteen minutes late. I pulled
up in my car, the music was blaring, I had some sunglasses on (and of course it was sunny!) and you
went bananas at me!

ALEC EPIS, FORMER ESSENDON PLAYER: That's right. I told you to be here on time.

GLENN MANTON: You told me in no uncertain terms if I wasn't here on time from that day forward,
don't come at all. In fact I think it was peppered with expletives.

(End of excerpt)

ALEC EPIS, FORMER ESSENDON PLAYER: He was one of those kids who had difficulty in being told what
to do. He didn't like being told what to do by his mother. And so when I met him he was still in
that frame of mind that he had an opinion better than anybody else. We used to train every
Wednesday morning down at the park just down from my place.

GLENN MANTON: What happens is it starts with the football and you don't realise over time, but that
actually dissipates. Let's talk about your parents, let's talk about your work, let's talk about
your social life, let's talk about anything pertaining to you. This went on for years and years and
years. But without Alec I wouldn't even begin to possibly claim the success that I've had. He has
been that influential.

DAVID CONWAY: Hearing the way Glenn talked about Alec, I desperately wanted to meet him. If it
wasn't for the person that inspired Glenn, I don't know where I would be and it's sort of that line
I guess of paying it forward but that I would like to see where it started.

ALEC EPIS, FORMER ESSENDON PLAYER: I was trying to imagine what sort of a person he would be. Well
he nearly fainted didn't he. It was amazing wasn't it? He couldn't speak. It was incredible. I mean
I think Mants might have built me up too much I think.

DAVID CONWAY: I just felt instantly ignited. I just felt really alive. He's just a character. He's
so different to Glenn and it was so it was like, I don't know, it was just the best feeling in the
world to meet the guy that helped the guy that helped me.

ALEC EPIS, FORMER ESSENDON PLAYER: The longer I stayed with him, the more I liked him. He's a fine
kid. He's a good kid. I felt really good. I felt that this was the end product of something that
I'd done with Glenn and I was just that proud that he'd done that with this young kid. And here it
was. It was in front of me wasn't it and it's just beginning. And I just thought how fantastic is
this? I mean you just never know, do you, when you do something for someone where it's going to end

FIONA CONWAY, MOTHER: David has achieved a great deal. He has done very well academically. And he
did very well in his HSC even though he had a year of football taking him all over the place. He
did extremely well, got into UTS to do commerce and law.

DAVID CONWAY: I chose law because I was an idealist. I wanted to change the world and I quickly
learned in law that it's a system very entrenched in the way it is and you can't really do it. I
guess at the end of the day I want my life. I want to be able to tell it like a good story. After I
missed out on the AFL draft I thought it could be an opportunity for me to transfer my skills that
I learned with Aussie Rules across to punting in Gridiron. So I set the goal of going to college in
the United States.

GLENN MANTON: The beautiful aspect about Dave is he's a dogged bastard and he'll just keep going
and going and going and going and if he fails, he was prepared to fail. He didn't fail through lack
of effort. He'll just keep going and going and going, and that's what I love about him.

FIONA CONWAY, MOTHER: He's now been awarded a scholarship to Georgetown University for a 4 year
degree which we are just ecstatic about. It's just a real privilege to have received admission into
the university but to receive a full scholarship is quite extraordinary.

GLENN MANTON: Goodness me. Imagine if he makes the NFL! Imagine if through his university
experience over the next couple of years he actually lands a job punting in the NFL. That's an
incredible sports story on the surface, but it's an amazing human story below that. I'm incredibly
proud of him. Incredibly proud of him!

GREG CONWAY, FATHER: I am indebted to him, I know that he would take that in the right way, that
Glenn would see that as hopefully just a father's recognition to another father, as Glenn is, of
what it means to see your son happy and content.

FIONA CONWAY, MOTHER: As a mum I must say when all this happened I felt a complete failure not
being able to protect my son and to this day I carry that with me, but I look at him now and wow!
Look where he's going!

DAVID CONWAY: I'm in such a good place that it's quite difficult to actually think back and almost
believe that I was in, at that place you know. I'm very fortunate that I met a girl named Olivia
who's the best thing in my life. I actually met Liv in the same week I met Glenn. I look forward to
paying it forward when I'm older and helping someone just the way Glenn helped me, a kid who's 15,
16 years younger, and really make a difference in their life. Make a meaningful difference. I feel
as if I've overcome so much more than a lot of people would have believed I could have come through
and got over. But I've done it and I'm proud of myself and I'm going to keep moving forward. I'm
going to keep fighting. I'm going to keep winning. There's a great quote. If you aim for the stars,
you don't make it, you fall back on top of the world. That's what I want to do.


David Conway's uncle, Frank Collins, pleaded guilty to three counts of indecency with a child. He
received a nine month non custodial sentence with correctional treatment.

David Conway has deferred his law degree and leaves next week for Washington's Georgetown
University to study finance and journalism.