In the Sheds: Warrandyte warrior expects no favours despite taking field with brain tumour

AS THE Warrandyte players ran on to the field to host Whitehorse Pioneers in their final-round clash in division three of Melbourne’s Eastern Football League on Saturday, their ranks included one footballer who was playing his first game for the season — with good reason. In February James “Jimmy” Logan turned up to training in his suit, having completed a day’s work as accounts manager at a direct-mailing company, and began to feel light-headed. As the 31-year-old tried to change into his footy gear he vomited. Before long he was wandering out the front of the dressing-rooms in a state of delusion. An ambulance soon transferred him to Maroondah Hospital and later St Vincent’s, where he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. His footy season appeared to be over.

LOGAN has played for Warrandyte for 12 years and been secretary for 10. Even while undergoing chemotherapy this season he’s continued as club secretary. “I enjoy it,” he said. “The club’s very supportive. It’s a good place to be.” Not long ago doctors revealed that traces of Logan’s tumour had returned. His desire to return to the field looked fraught until Warrandyte’s senior coach Michael Tout asked Logan, a defender in the club’s 2006 division-three premiership team, whether he wanted to play in the last game. Doctors gave Logan the all-clear early last week and word spread throughout Warrandyte. The crowd at Saturday’s game between the third- and fourth-placed teams was the biggest for some time. Logan said 50 or 60 supporters usually stand on the Warrandyte hill. He felt overwhelmed when he looked up on Saturday to see at least 200. His girlfriend Alicia stood in the crowd with friends. “It was a buzz,” he said. “It was also very humbling.” Logan came on to the ground at the 15-minute mark of each quarter. His fitness let him down but he enjoyed just being out there. With about 10 minutes to go, he had a shot at goal from just inside the goal-line. It was touched off the boot, prompting Pioneers players Alistair Quinn to push his opponent and razz him about his missed opportunity. Logan had no problem with Quinn’s action. “I was out there as a player.” But Pioneers captain Paul Fiorenza, who knew of Logan’s condition, pulled Quinn aside and told him to pull his head in. The Warrandyte player spent much of the day feeling overwhelmed.

WELL-WISHERS almost wore a track in Logan’s back as he walked up the race after Warrandyte’s 17-point win. Inside the rooms he stood in the centre of the circle as his teammates sang the club song. Club president Phil Treeby said Logan did his best to maintain his composure. “But I was crying,” Treeby said. Logan told the president he wanted his effort to serve as an example of what you can gain from contributing towards a footy club. He organised the Auskick game that was held at half-time of the seniors game. Just yesterday, it was his idea to organise 20 tickets for the Warrandyte under-17 players to watch the under-18 team play in the finals this Saturday. “A footy club is a large group of people who care about each other,” he said. It saddened Logan to hear about the teenager who was charged after allegedly hitting a rival spectator with a mallet during an Essendon District league under-16s game at Greenvale on Sunday. He believes footy cops too many bad raps. As for his own footy career, he’s taking it one game at a time. Doctors told him the average life span with a malignant brain tumour is 12 months. At the outside he can expect five years. Logan’s chemotherapy resumes next week. In October he’s going on the Warrandyte footy trip to Las Vegas. He plans to be still serving the club when it resumes next season.

MITCHAM, another club in division three of the Eastern league, enjoyed a narrow escape from relegation despite losing its final-round clash. Historically, Mitcham is an Eastern league powerhouse. As recently as 2006 it was in division one. In 2007 it went down to division two and again was relegated. In 2008 it was in division three and only narrowly avoided relegation. This season the Tigers were on the 10th and bottom rung of the division-three ladder after every game until last week, when they defeated Boronia. Mitcham maintained ninth place on Saturday despite losing to Upper Ferntree Gully by 22 points. Bottom-placed Heathmont lost to Mooroolbark by 80 points.

IN THE Eastern league’s division one, Croydon looks set to win its first minor premiership in the top grade after defeating reigning premier Balwyn by 16 points. Croydon forward David Black responded to the presence of Balwyn ruckman Brad Smith in the hole by leading to the pockets. He ended up with six goals while full-forward Brad Kelleher kicked three, giving him a competition-high 73 for the season. Balwyn’s Allan Murray, the former Port Adelaide and St Kilda player, kicked six to be his team’s leading goalkicker. Murray has stepped into the Balwyn goalsquare since former Richmond and Bulldogs player Patrick Bowden went down with a badly broken leg mid-season. Croydon is likely to finish on top if it defeats Norwood away this Saturday. The club has been in division one since 1998 but has not played in a finals series in all that time. Its rise this season can be attributed in large part to coach Greg Freemantle, who’s shown patience in developing his team.

PERENNIAL finalist Vermont rose to third place for the first time this season after defeating Norwood by six goals. Vermont full-forward Matt Greig, the son of Keith, kicked four goals to bring his season’s tally to 72, one behind Croydon’s Kelleher. Like his team, Greig began this season slowly but has hit form since the June long weekend. The 31-year-old is going for his fifth Eastern league goalkicking title. He’ll face plenty of obstacles to his ambition given that Vermont plays at Balwyn on Saturday in a rematch of last year’s grand final. Blackburn remains in fifth place despite thrashing Lilydale by 106 points at home; Lilydale dropped from third to fourth. Blackburn set up its win when former Hawthorn rookie Kristan Height kicked the opening two goals. In his return match after recovering from an early-season ankle injury, Height inspired the Burners. They went on to kick nine goals against the wind in the opening quarter while keeping Lilydale goalless.

Comments

  1. A heart-warming story about a courageous, self-less man Daff. Mighty stuff.
    Loved the way in which you captured the links between community and footy – and people.
    Footy is a wonderful mechanism for bringing footy together.

    Rocket

  2. pauldaffey says:

    Thanks Rocket,

    Warrandyte play the Pioneers this Saturday again, in the first semi-final. Poor Alistair Quinn might cop some stick.

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