Geelong full-back and club life member, Yarrawonga’s own Tom Lonergan, will play his 200th senior game with the Cats this Saturday evening against Brisbane Lions at The Gabba, at 7.25pm.
This milestone was telegraphed in the Yarrawonga Chronicle of June 14 when Tom, wife Kim and now 10-month-old Bobby were home on a short footy break visiting parents Trish and Bernie (Stump).
“Whenever you’ve got a milestone in a season you look at it somewhat,” Tom, 33, said at that time of the imminent milestone.
“Two-hundred games was always a long, long way for me. When I came back, obviously from my injury, it was so good to get to 100 games because you get your name on a locker. To have got there plus another 100, I’m proud of the achievement. It’s been a long time coming.”
The achievement of 200 is all the more remarkable because of a life-threatening injury sustained in just Tom’s seventh AFL match.
Courageously going back with the flight of the ball, Tom crashed to the ground, being carried from the ground and undergoing emergency operating, resulting in the loss of a lot of blood and his right kidney. Except for everlasting scars, that is well behind him now.
Tom’s return to AFL was over two years later, via the VFL where he starred, being named best on ground, the Geelong’s premiership. He booted six goals from centre-half-forward.
Next year, 2011, it’s back in the big time and he starred in Geelong’s AFL premiership team at full-back. Team Manager for Geelong’s VFL team, Vic Fuller, said he became friendly with Tom “the day he arrived at Geelong”.
“To achieve 200 games under the circumstances is remarkable and wonderful,” 75-year-old Vic told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.
“He’s down to earth. Nobody at Geelong would have a bad word to say about him. He’s such a lovely guy.
“Tom’s so brave and has been a very, very reliable backman even though he rated himself a forward early. He’s done very well.”
Vic joined the Geelong staff in 1974, was a general insurance broker and was made Life Member of Geelong Football Club in 2004.
“It’s full credit to Tom and his whole family who have been so supportive of him,” Vic said. “It’s a great game record Tom’s got and deserves.”
Tom’s dad Bernie (Stump) said the family “was totally proud of his son’s efforts”. “He’s probably been a quiet achiever in his journey,” Stump said. “He’s never, ever shied away from issues or concerns. He’s very modest.
“When the family went down for the big dinner where Tom, along with other announcements, was awarded life membership in July last year, we were just so proud.”
Geelong’s senior coach Chris Scott has often praised his star full-back who has owned the full-back position for the last seven years.
General Manager – Media, Digital & Broadcasting at Geelong Football Club, Kevin Diggerson, said Tom has been “one of the best defenders in the league over the past seven years”.
“He is a consummate professional and has the respect of his team mates and opponents because of the way he goes about his football,” Mr Diggerson said.
“Tom’s courage in the contest is exceptional, particularly when you consider the terrible injury he suffered back in 2006.
“Tom has played over 190 games since that injury and forged a highly successful career.
“He is active in all areas of the club and is a contributor to our many community activities.”
Congratulations, Tom, from all your numerous fans in Yarrawonga/Mulwala and district.