LEONGATHA has received some great publicity in the run up to the opening of the 2017 AFL season.
And the town’s favourite sons, Dyson Heppell and Jarryd Roughead, could not have done them more proud on the big stage at the MCG last Saturday night.
Clearly the best player on the ground, Dyson Heppell, went on to kick three second-half goals to be instrumental in the Bombers’ emotional win.
And Jarryd Roughead led from the front too, inserting himself into the play in the centre for long periods of time and shifting forward to kick two goals in a fine all-round display.
But just seeing him out there after the serious health issues of last year was enough for everyone.
In a nice touch before the game, the mothers of the two Leongatha boys, Sheryl Roughead and Anne Maree Heppell, and their partners, were special guests at the Essendon Chairman’s lunch where Lindsay Tanner paid tribute to both families in his main address.
It was then out into the open to watch the footy where the two mums sat side-by-side, embracing each other when their two boys, as captains of their respective sides for the first time, embraced in the centre of the ground before the toss of the coin.
It was a wonderful moment, one that several hundred people from Leongatha, who travelled down for the game, were not going to miss.
“I was more nervous, I think, than before Dyson played his first AFL game, with everything, coming back after a year off, the captaincy and all the expectation,” said Anne Maree afterwards.
“And we spoke to him as well during the week and he was nervous, anxious and excited too.
“He said afterwards that he’s never felt so tired in the body after a match. I guess that comes from being out of the game for a year as well.”
It might also have had something to do with the 34 disposals he gathered, most of them contested, seven tackles and three goals.
“We sat together all night and we just loved seeing Roughy out there again and doing so well. We clapped and cheered both boys whatever they did.
“We saw Ken and Sandra Fleming before the game and they were pumped. We saw lots of Leongatha people down there. I think the town has had some really positive publicity out of it, which is great.
“We also saw David Evans in the rooms after the game. He was a real mentor for Dyson when he first went down there back he’s back around the club now and said he’d lost his faith in footy for a while.
“There’s a real effort being made now to get everyone back, to be inclusive, and I hope that other people who feel that way can come back as well.
“It was such an amazing night and both boys came though well.”
Leongatha’s captains do their town proud