hearne makes milestone

IMG_2772 - Version 2 (2)Ian Hearne’s milestone match has been 20 years in the making. There have been setbacks, disasters and delays. Motorcycle crashes, ‘social mishaps’, cricket injuries, footy injuries, surgery, rehabilitation and recovery.

At last today, Ian ‘Wangers’ Hearne finally ran out to play his 150th game for the Mt Helena Lions against the inform Pickering Brook Hawks to finally claim his hard earned prize of club life membership.

According to his teammates no one deserves the acknowledgement more.

John McCole remembers Ian’s glory days. A lithe young athlete, a hard running wingman with a trailing blonde mullet, outrunning opposition, selling the dummy, balancing the ball on an outstretched hand and running almost the length of the field to pump the ball inside 50.

“He travelled more distance than the early explorers,” says ex-teammate (now team manager) John McCole. “His pace, endurance and natural energy (on and off the field) made Ian quite a standout.”

But that was 20 years ago and the player taking the field today is a little less lithe and lot less pacey. Ian’s now a mature player and strapped together with more bandage and tape than Tutankhamen. Although the years may have taken their toll, Ian’s determination to be involved remains unchanged.

“Just his presence lifts and inspires the team”, says Lion’s coach Norm Tower,  “He’s very important to us, on and off the field.”

Ian began the 2012 season on 148 games and poised for life membership. But he went down with a severe knee injury that meant he would sit out the entire season cruelly stranded on game 149. He underwent surgery and a grueling recovery.

wanger banner burst

Ian ‘Wanger’ Hearne breaks through for game 150

 

To help regain his fitness Ian has been running the boundary as an umpire this year. To the annoyance of officials and opposing fans he also took it upon himself to provide a noisy commentary, offer unsolicited umpiring advice as well as cheering on the Lions.

There seems no known way to suppress Ian’s enthusiasm. “He’s a very passionate team man,” says McCole.

Ian grew up a Hills boy in Mahogany Creek but now lives in Maddington. He drives up for training and games –  and to support the team as chief cheer leader and boundary umpire during his rehabilitation.

wanger 150 banner

Around the club Ian’s more likely to answer to his nickname ‘Wangers’ in reverence to his football idol Gavin Wangerneen. Like his hero, Wangers also wears the number 4 and in celebration of his 150 matches his old jumper is being retired, framed and ‘going straight to the pool room.’

“I am so proud of his determination, bravery and passion, I wish him the best of luck,” says wife Megan.

Team mate Wayne Sowden added, “He’s a great player and a great mate. We all wish him the best for his big day.”

John McCole summed up, “This weekend is a milestone for Ian, it’s also a huge event for the club as he is a very popular and passionate team man”.

For the record the Lions started strongly and took the lead early. At half time, with was less than a goal in it some fans were predicting an upset.  Unfortunately the Lion’s depleted bench saw them fade in the second half and deny Hearne the full fairy tale.

Mt Helena Lions 12.8 (80) def. by Pickering Brook Hawks 25.17 (167)

 

There was still plenty to celebrate. Hearne had made it back after serious injury and a year and a half on the sideline, he had plenty of the ball, kicked two goals – and most importantly – survived intact!

 

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