By David Nagel
Former Port Adelaide and Hawthorn champion Shaun Burgoyne arrived at the Dalyston Football Netball Club on Saturday with a glowing reputation to uphold.
The All-Australian, with four premierships and 407 games of AFL football to his name, was expected to deliver big as he pulled on the black and white stripes of the Magpies for their big clash against Garfield in the West Gippsland Football Netball Competition.
And Burgoyne not only delivered big, he exceeded expectations in a typically silky-smooth performance – both on and off the ground – at the Dalyston Recreation Reserve.
Burgoyne was named among the Magpies best and kicked two goals in the 47-point victory, but it’s the goals he kicked off the field that made the day so special.
If anything, Burgoyne enhanced his already glowing reputation.
Dalyston President Andy Thomas – who was forced to miss the big occasion after testing positive to Covid on Friday – was first to feel the good vibes.
“I couldn’t do anything, I was sitting at home, but one of the guys put him on the phone and we had a chat before the game…that’s the sort of bloke he is,” Thomas said.
“The feedback has been incredible.
“The number of photos he was involved in all day was huge, and just to keep the smile on his face all day was a wonderful thing to do.
“But he also bought into the team and club culture, mingled with everyone, and then he went into the Garfield rooms afterwards and spoke to them as well…he’s just all class.
“He’s played 400 games, he’s a quiet humble sort of guy, we were just so fortunate to get a bloke of his quality into the place, even for one day.”
Thomas said Burgoyne’s arrival, via the Fox Footy promotion ‘The Carlton Draft’, had created enormous excitement around the club.
“It was incredibly exciting, the buzz around the place was fantastic,” he said.
“It brought in a lot of past players and supporters from all over the place and it brought back the big-game crowds that we’ve sort of missed since Covid.
“Crowds have struggled to come back but Saturday brought everybody out – even on a cold miserable day – on a fine day the place would have been absolutely chock-a-block.
“The old blokes, the young blokes, it’s something that everyone has said, they’ll look back in 10 years and say ‘Wasn’t that a great day’.
“It was a great day for the club really.”
Thomas said tongue-in-cheek that the Magpies might now try and make a play to hold on to their star recruit.
“We’re not sure if we’ll clear him back to where he came from,” Thomas said with a laugh.
“We’ve already got him on our past-players list, so he’s on the mailing list just in case anything pops up in the future.”
Thomas was keen to thank both Fox Footy and Carlton Draught for bringing something so special to the local community.
“Carlton Draught and Fox Footy deserve a big pat on the back here because it’s provided a huge spark to community football,” Thomas said.
“Country clubs don’t get the respect that they deserve, but this is just one way of putting something back into the community.
“The players also sacrifice a couple of days to help out the clubs and it’s just a fantastic initiative to boost community football, that has struggled a bit through Covid.
“We just hope that next season that other clubs might get the opportunity to host someone like Shaun Burgoyne like we have.”