Leongatha coach Beau Vernon, with assistant coach Paul LePage in support, praised the efforts of his players at three quarter time in their match against Traralgon last Saturday.
WE; the whole Gippsland community from Warragul to Bairnsdale, and from Yarram to Phillip Island, we have all lived the tragedy, the courageous recovery and the inspirational successes Beau Vernon has had in forging a new life for himself and his young wife Lucy.
Thanks to Beau’s attitude to his accident and its aftermath, plus his willingness to share his journey with the wider community, we have been with him all the way.
“Get around him,” they said and that’s exactly what we did.
And it was great to see the Herald-Sun pay tribute to Beau, to his family, his friends, his many supporters throughout the region and his footy club, Leongatha, in their Sunday paper this week.
The story by Walkley award-winning journalist Patrick Carlyon perfectly captured the events already so familiar to us, especially here in South Gippsland, from start to finish.
And there’s little doubt that the story of his tenacity in the face of adversity would be an inspiration to many, while also ringing true to those who have had their own personal battles.
But, in many ways, like Beau, we have yearned to move on with our lives as much as we possibly can, which for the Parrot faithful also included returning to their footy club without the fog of despair that has hung in the air for much of the past two and a half years.
It started to lift with the inspired appointment of Beau as the club’s senior coach in September last year and by Saturday’s emphatic start to a new season in the Gippsland league against Traralgon, the sun was shining on a bright new beginning for Beau, for the Leongatha footy club and for his many, many well-wishes.
Afterwards, Beau just wanted to talk about footy.
Why wouldn’t he.
“I’m just so proud of the guys, the way they played,” he said.
He paid special tribute to the youngest player in the group, Kyle Cooper, for his role in the win.
“Fitness levels were good, I’d hope they would be but I’ve also been trying to get the players to take more responsibility for driving that themselves as a group.”
Club vice president, Terry Ginnane, presented the awards in a packed, jubilant rooms afterwards.
He also thanked Beau.
“Beau said he would be big on developing an exciting brand of footy and on filling the rooms again after the games. We had 300 people in for counter teas last Thursday night and we’ve got the room filled again here tonight. It’s great to see.
“When the club interviewed Beau for the job last year he said he wanted to bring excitement back to Leongatha footy and to fill the rooms and I think we can say he’s already delivered on that.”
Captains of the team, Cade Maskell and Chris Verboon, each of whom starred in the 123-point victory, presented Beau with the match-day ball, signed by all 21 players.
Among the other things he has achieved since that fateful day at Wonthaggi on Saturday, June 23, 2012, Beau has got his driver’s licence back, and when he’s not catching the train into Southern Cross Station by himself to go to work at the AFL, from his home in Chadstone, he’s driving himself back to training at Leongatha.
It’s a busy life and one that’s put his business degree studies on the back-burner for a while.
Lucy, who heads off in the other direction of a morning to work in Frankston, no longer worries about how Beau is getting around.
Day to day, it’s as normal a life for a young couple as anyone could hope for and as Patrick Carlyon so eloquently put it in his excellent article, “Beau’s normal is a case study in adaption”.
As much as anything else, that’s what the Leongatha faithful were celebrating last Saturday night, a life returning to normal, or rather to a new normal in which Beau has the opportunity to make of it what he will. It’s as much as any of us could ask.