IT ISN’T often that Leongatha’s Dyson Heppell gets the chance to come home during the footy season.
But after completing the customary rehab at the beach with his Essendon team mates last Sunday morning, it was into the car for Dyson and his girlfriend Kate Turner and a quick dash down the highway to support an important family occasion.
Together with his brother Aaron, Dyson joined mother Ann-Maree, father Paul and the rest of the supporters of a special Scleroderma awareness and fundraising day which started with a bike ride down the rail trail to Koonwarra.
Dyson’s grandmother, Corry Schelling, battled the effects of this insidious disease for 18 years before her death in March last year.
The ride provided enough time for Dyson to catch up on how Aaron and the Parrots had fared against Traralgon the day before and also to discuss the big, upcoming clash against Wonthaggi Power at Wonthaggi this Sunday.
Dyson has a big game looming as well, his 100th for the Bombers later this month.
“It’s been five years but it has absolutely flown by. It’s amazing how quickly it’s come up,” he said this week.
Dyson played his 96th game against Hawthorn last Saturday and it would be hard to imagine a more impressive first 100 in which he has established himself as one of the main performers at the club and, in many people’s eyes, a future captain of the Bombers.
In support of the Scleroderma fundraiser, Dyson donated a pair of his footy boots, an authenticated, signed footy jumper, a table for 10 at the Channel Nine Footy Show and tickets to some Essendon games.
He also took the opportunity to catch up with some local relatives and friends at the event at the Koonwarra Hall before heading back to Melbourne for what is pretty much a seven day-a-week job as an AFL footballer.
“It’s full-on all the time but it’s great. I love it.”
Dyson is due to play his 100th game against Port Adelaide at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night, July 25.
In the big time
Dyson was back home recently though, to film an online segment to promote the Hawks versus Bombers clash with fellow Leongatha export, Jarryd Roughead.
In a jocular interview with Parrots’ legend and their former junior coach Ken ‘Cactus’ Fleming, both men recalled their early days at the club as young kids watching their fathers, Paul Heppell and Michael Roughead, play prominent roles for the Parrots, but with widely different junior years; Dyson and his crop winning premiership after premiership and Jarryd’s cohort lucky to win a game.
It’s interesting how that experience has swung around.
Jarryd also noted that his 200-plus AFL games have absolutely flown by as well.
‘Cactus’ Fleming wrapped up the interview, which can be seen by searching ‘Heppell and Roughead’ on Youtube, by echoing the thoughts of many locals:
“Watching you both has been a great interest for all Leongatha people whether they followed football or not.”