PEOPLE like MDU trainer David Gray, and there’s rarely more than one of them per club, are the life and soul of a football netball club.
They’re never judgemental of the different personalities that make up a county footy club.
They don’t involve themselves in the politics.
They stick to the task.
And they’re great listeners when needed.
Usually they’re the unsung heroes year after year but the players, officials and supporters know who they are and what they do.
So it was not at all surprising to see the whole MDU Football Netball Club turn out last Saturday afternoon to see their trainer of longstanding leave the field of play for the last time after a home and away game.
And it was not without a great deal of humility and much emotion that Dave passed down the avenue of honour, flanked by applauding players and officials, wearing his familiar blue Alberton Trainers Association jacket, with his tapes, magic towel and water on a utility belt, carrying his trusty first aid kit.
It certainly helped that the MDU seniors had just completed their most stirring victory of the season, on virtually the last kick of the day at Bass.
Afterwards in the rooms, though, it was all about Dave.
Senior Assistant Coach and club legend David Trotman led the chorus of appreciation.
“Dave came to MDU as a player, believe it or not (‘a dashing wingman’ according to an interjector) in 1984. He played a couple of seasons and then became the senior runner for five or six year,” said Trotman.
“He’s been our head trainer since then but he’s finishing up today. When I spoke to someone around the club about it, the comment was “what a legend” and that’s what we all feel about Dave.
“His work is in the background but he’s been a mainstay, the consistent feature of the club for the many people who have come and gone over the years and it makes me quite emotional to talk about you today.
“You wouldn’t meet a nicer a bloke or know how much he puts in,” he said.
He said Dave was above the politics and always ready to lend a hand, not only assisting the footballers with their taping and first aid issues, but also the netballers as well.
“There was always six to 10 netballers ahead of me waiting to get taped. He was great with the netballers and I know how much they appreciated it as well.”
He said Dave was retiring from his job as a teacher and with his wife Marie, would be moving to Mount Martha to live but he urged him visit the club as regularly as possible in the future.
For his part, Dave Gray said he didn’t want any fuss about his departure but appreciated that people around the club wanted to express their own feelings and he was grateful for that.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and made a lot of friends along the way,” he said.
Fitting farewell for gentleman Dave