mt helena lions need you!

l v s r3 runA few weeks back, the Eye reported the Mt Helena Lions victory over the Bullsbrook Saints. It was a tough encounter, 54 year old Harry Phelan was drafted for duty and Steve Vuillermin scrambled from behind the bar to take to the field to make the bare eighteen.

This week the Lions could only muster 16 players for the daunting task of facing undefeated competition leaders Chidlow Cougars. Undermanned, the Lions fought it out bravely. They took a 230 point hiding for their trouble.

Like many clubs Mt Helena have felt the highs and lows of community football since the beginning. But it’s never been quite as critical as it is now.

Team officials have taken the desperate action of letterbox drops and shopping centre posters to find the new players they need to keep themselves in the competition. HFA President Brian Pallister will request assistance from Swan Districts to find players and save the club.

The Mt Helena Lions (formerly the Hill Billies and Mounties) have been a touchstone for the Hills Football Association from the beginning.

They’ve always been a raw and gritty club. I played for Mt Helena U/17s in the olden days. We went through the 1979 season losing only two games. Unfortunately for us, one of those games was the Grand Final and we broke our coach Victor Hatch’s heart.

Footy scan (1)

The nearly all conquering U/17 Mt Helena Mounties of 1979

For the record, I think Victor had better luck the next year with the next crop and went on to premiership glory.

Most of us went on to be the new blood for ‘Mounties’ or other senior teams. I was conflicted. Mundaring were the glamour club of the day. I was amazed to see the level of organisation, the physio tables laid out at trainings, the size of the squad, the discipline. In my world of primitive local footy, these guys looked like pros.

While I trained with Mundaring I was asked to play for Mt Helena in a pre-season match against Sunday Amateur premiers, the WA Fire Brigade. Always keen to play footy, I couldn’t resist.

But I had broken the code. I was in a bind. I had accepted invitations with both clubs and I felt marooned and too scared to play for either of them.

I had signed my own warrant and without the courage to take my punishment, my lack of character ended prematurely (I tell my sons) my potentially stellar footy career 😉

Mt Helena, then known as the ‘Mounties,’ went on as underdogs to meet the Mundaring football powerhouse in the Grand Final. The professional-like Mundaring were expected to crush the rag tag Mounties in a walk over.

I had mates in both sides of this inter-tribal war. But the game was turning into an arm wrestle and my prejudice was revealed when I honked my car horn after Mt Helena scored to take the lead late in the game – it didn’t go unnoticed.

Somehow, out in the action, amongst the noise and aggro, my good mate from Mundaring noted my heinous act of treachery. And when Mt Helena’s motley crew of underdogs (old “Hairy” and young Nic Mumford) prevailed in an upset, to defeat the silky professionals (Tom Matyas, Brett McCrum, Keith Amess and Chris Armstrong) of mighty Mundoo, I was never to be forgiven. Ever.

It was a mere blip for Mundaring and history shows they went on to dominate the competition for years. For the Mounties it was the apex of football glory. The gritty underdogs over entitlement and privilege.

That’s how I remember it. That was 33 years ago and it’s probably a fair illustration of the depth of passion, club attachment and tribal loyalty of the time.

The Mt Helena footy club remains important because it’s part of the texture of local life and legend, and a shared thread.

At a time when men’s health has become a serious issue, the health of the local football club is more important than it might appear at face value.

So get behind the Mt Helena Lions if you can. ‘Hairy’ is probably approaching eighty now and Nic Mumford sold out to rugby long ago and now lives in Sydney. But if you want a game of footy, or just train for fitness at a great old club (or know someone that does) get down to Mt Helena Oval and join up.

This year, Mt Helena have given themselves a bit of a revamp and a change of image. A new name – the Lions, new jumpers, new clubrooms are on the way. A long awaited upgrade that team manager John McCole thinks will make all visiting teams pretty happy.

“We’ve had some hard times before”, says John McCole. “At one point we reformed in 1993 and didn’t win a game for two seasons, but we built up and won the flag a few years later.” “We’ve got some good young players, including our captain and we’re going in the right direction, we just need a few more players as we renew.”

The Lions are working on their website, in the meantime you can call Lion’s President Gerry Vuillermin on 0417 976 548.

Damn, if I was as fit as Harry Phelan I might pull the boots on again myself!

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Jesse long says:

    A friend recommended this footy club to join. Just wondering if training has already started?

  2. John McCole/ Lion's Manager says:

    Mt Helena changed its mascot name back to the Lions this year. This came about to align closer with the Mt.Helena juniors, who are also the Lions, and to build a greater presence in the local community.

    With a fresh look with new jumpers this season, its exciting times ahead for the Lions. Work will commence this year on building our much awaited new changeroom facilities.We’re sure all teams and clubs will glad of that.

    On the field, numbers are a bit low and the club would love to see some new faces to come down and have a run alongside the great players we already have.

    Any guys that would just like to come down and train for fitness, or anyone who wants to come down just to support your local team, would also be most welcome. Just let yourself be known to any of the people wearing club shirts on game days.

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