FOOTBALL these days allows little time to pause and reflect on the past.
With the demands and pressures on country footy clubs continuing to grow each year, the focus is constantly centred on looking ahead at ways to improve and evolve.
But on Friday the Bendigo Football-Netball League stopped for a night to pay homage to the past with its fourth Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Ten new members were inducted into the Hall of Fame – Phil Byrne, Gary Evans, Brendan Keane, John Ledwidge, Ron McHardy, Steve McKerrow, Kevin Parks, Stan Plowman, Harry Watts and Ron Wicks.
All deserving inclusions into the Hall of Fame alongside the previous 42 who had been inducted in 1986, 1996 and 2010.
Between the 10 there was an involvement at 11 clubs, plus 21 senior premierships.
Nine of the inductees were there to accept the Hall of Fame honour and all were humbled to be joining the elites of one of country Victoria’s oldest football leagues.
Kyneton’s legendary Stan Plowman has passed away, but he would have been proud watching from above of wife Pat as she accepted on his behalf.
Stan and Pat were married in 1950, but Pat got more than just a husband that day – she got a footy club as well, the Tigers.
What tremendous service Stan gave the Tigers through the best part of 50 years as a player, coach and administrator spanning 1940 to 1988.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of any club and in Stan’s case, among his various roles, he gave an extraordinary 29 years service as secretary to the Tigers, which included the golden period of the early to mid-60s when Kyneton won three premierships, of which fellow inductee Kevin Parks played in all.
Pat delivered the gag of the night when, as if she was comedic genius Jerry Seinfeld, she produced a zinger of a line when it was mentioned she and Stan had eight kids together. "I'd had four of them before realising what was causing it." Pure gold.
Stan may not have been there on Friday night, but the Plowman family now has a photo (pictured) from this special night featuring 16 members that will be treasured for years to come.
The same goes for the extended family of Golden Square’s Ron McHardy.
Ron turned 90 back in May, not that you’d know it – he’s still as sharp in the mind as the days when he was running around for his beloved Bulldogs through more than 200 BFL games, the last of which was in 1960.
Ron said the greatest moment of his football career had come in 1947 when he was one of four men to win the BFL league medal, then known as the T.R. Davies Medal.
But 67 years on, Friday night provided Ron – whose history with Golden Square dates back almost 80 years to 1936 - with another footballing memory to cherish.
For Kangaroo Flat’s Ron Wicks, it was a double celebration.
Not only was Wicks inducted into the Hall of Fame, but he was also a member of the victorious 1989 BFL inter-league team that won the Vic Health Country Championships division one title against Geelong that reunited 25 years later.
A quarter-of-a-century on since Neville Strauch’s men saluted, Bendigo has never regained the mantle as country Victoria’s top league.
Twelve members associated with that 1989 team were there on Friday night, and all share a strong bond built on the back of achieving the ultimate success together.
Wicks was a breed of footballer who is continuing to become rarer each year – a one-club player, and it was fantastic to see that loyalty rewarded with his induction.
Just eight of Wicks' 392 games for the Roos were finals, but he never sought to leave and chase success elsewhere, and that loyalty finally reaped dividends in 1996 with a long-awaited premiership in his 14th senior season.
Well done to all inductees – an honour well deserved.