Henry and the Jets: Characterful

If I had to describe to you the character of the Heathmont Football Club, I probably couldn’t articulate it in person, but I can do my best on a keyboard. The character of my club is that, despite discouragingly low numbers at training – we’re talking the same 20 odd blokes every week – on the lead-up to a fourth straight finals series, the Hangar feels as full and as welcoming as ever. It’s that, while this year has been one undoubtedly overshadowed by a theme of debt and fundraising, the mood on the faces of players, parents, committee and life members is one of defiant excitement. It’s in the fact that as long as we’re fit and fighting on the field, then the reasons to continue fighting off it are unquestionable. This family lives for the success of its boys and it’s something which I’ve only grown to fully appreciate over the past season or two.


And you bet you read that right. Against so many different odds, the Jets have made it into a fourth straight finals series. After a glorious 80-point thumping of the second-last placed Scoresby, Heathmont have scraped into the top-four by just 5% – a margin I’ve calculated to be worth 51 points for. Sitting and eating lunch today I had my mum asking whether I felt sorry for Templestowe (who finished 5th) having missed the finals by such a tight differential, to which I gave her a typically 21-year-old “nah”. Call me old-fashioned, but I reckon 4 straight wins to close the home & away fixture should be a pretty celebrated effort by the Jets. We deserve every bit of our finals berth – such is the character of our humble little club.


Worthy mentions for most influential Jet in our 4th straight must-win game should go to Ryan “Dad” Young who slotted a glorious crumbing snap from 40 metres out which was rightfully replayed not once, not twice, but three times at review on Tuesday (“play it again!”). While some miraculous snags from the youthful gazelle (we’re talking, still-learning-to-stand ‘youthful’) Cam Osborne helped to put the win beyond the reach of those Magpies. Not even Cam could believe it when he dribbled a miraculous goal from the pocket, his eyes as wide as his wingspan.


It’s characters like these and dream runs home like the one we’ve been lucky enough to achieve that breathe life back into a club such as ours. It’s in the homemade sandwiches after every game from Leslie Knudsen – mother to all, but mostly to club legends Al and Jon – and in her adoration and appreciation for every 4 points we bring home. It’s in the under 19s ‘rat-pack’ sitting in the pocket egging on our towering full-forwards and giving their backline opponents all manner of grief throughout game day.


The character of Heathmont is a hotpot combination of all of these people, places, themes and events which make it an impossible decision as to whether I continue playing the game I’ve loved since I was 5 years old next year and beyond. Football clubs, hell, sporting clubs, hell, clubs of any sort, are about so much more than playing the game, or about how many stats you rack up, or how many votes you get. They’re about culture. They’re about building a home where your heart wants to belong.


Now, as we enter into week 1 of a tough finals series, the Jets’ character will well and truly be put to the test. This Sunday the 1st (Happy Fathers’ Day all!), will see us come face to face with arguably our biggest rival throughout the season, Mitcham. With the year’s score line between us at 1-2 in their favour, both teams will have lots to prove. Our skills across the ground are matched, our playing styles too. What the final result will come down to is heart. Like any old game of football, we’re going to need to want it more than the bloke standing next to us. When it comes to assessing a footballer’s character, I’d say that’s about as good a measure as any. And if I’m sure of one thing, it’s that Heathmont wants this pretty damn badly.


Just ask anyone down at HE Parker how much a finals win or three would mean to them this September and you’ll get just a sense of how football can block out the world around us for any given fleeting moment. Yeah, the work week might have been hell, but centre-half forward Fin Brown just slotted one on a slight angle and everyone is cheering as one. Maybe your relationship stumbled in the car on the way to the game, but your son or daughter just made a fantastic spoil and you’re celebrating every little achievement together because to do otherwise would be unwise.


When I’m standing in the backline and watching our forwards run riot on the weekend, I’ll take a second (just a second though, today’s game can move bloody quick), and I’ll fist pump to the crowd in the blue, white and yellow because we’re all in this together. One week at a time we’ll get through it all together,  and if we’re lucky, we’ll get to play some footy in the meantime.



Come down and support the Jets in their first final!

EFL DIV2 2nd Semi-Final:

Heathmont Jets vs Mitcham Tigers

Sunday the 1st of September  @  2:10pm

East Burwood Reserve


Read more from Henry HERE


Henry Ballard is a final year journalism student at Deakin University.


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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About Henry Ballard

21 year-old student of journalism, local footy, and fluent conversation. Of which I have perfected none and should never hope to.


  1. Ian Hauser says

    Henry, great to hear that you and your Jets have made it through to the finals. Perhaps that marks the end of the beginning of the task, as W Churchill once said, just as the advent of the finals marks the beginning of the end of the season. Good luck on Sunday. Off the field, it sounds like your club has the type of culture to which all clubs can aspire. Go Jets!

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