By Peter Argent
After signing with the Moonta in the Yorke Peninsula Football League before the June 30 deadline, iconic Aboriginal footballer Gavin Wanganeen will make his debut for the Demons in this Saturday’s home match against the Dean Cutting-coached Wallaroo Bulldogs.
Now aged 46, Wanganeen has been training for the past five weeks and dropped five kilograms to be back to his playing weight for his return to the code.
Moonta club President Grant Keleher confirmed there is a real buzz around the club about having a 300-game AFL footballer, Brownlow Medallist and dual premiership player coming across to wear on the Moonta jumper.
“Gavin has a strong cultural connection with the area and Port Victoria is one of his favourite places,” Keleher said.
“One of our players, Aidan Zwar, got in contact with Gavin after we lost a trio of players to knee injuries.
“Aidan’s family and Gavin have a longing friendship and they’ve been fishing buddies for a number of years.
“Gavin is keen to get involved with the club and made it abundantly clear that he wants to put something back into community footy.
“He’s still got an itch to scratch from a playing perspective and more he wants to achieve.
“He wants to put something back into the community and will be involved in junior clinics the following week.
“There are a number of players in our B grade that are now really keen to push to play in the A grade.
“Gavin has been training with his son Tex’s Mitcham Under-16 football team to regain the touch he needs to play again.”
Moonta is currently third on the Yorke Peninsula Football League A Grade football ladder, having secured eight wins from their first 12 rounds.
Wanganeen must play the final three games of the regular season to qualify for finals.
After their home game against the Bulldogs in Round 16, the Demons have a second successive home fixture against fellow contender Southern Eagles in Round 17 (August 10) and complete their regular season with a clash against the Kadina Bloodhounds on August 17 in Kadina.
Wanganeen played in Port Adelaide’s 1990 SANFL premiership under John Cahill and also enjoyed success at Essendon (1993 Baby Bombers premiership) and Port Adelaide along with being the Power’s inaugural captain from 1997 to 2000.
A member of the Australian Football Hall of Fame, he was selected in the back pocket in Essendon’s Team of the Century. He is also a five-time All-Australian (1992, ’93, ‘95 2001 and 2003).
Wanganeen started his football with the Salisbury North Football Club and his previous competitive game of football was back in 2014 when he played in the annual SA Aboriginal Football carnival at Kilburn Oval
He also played for the Koonibba Roosters as his great grandfather was a member of the local team from this mission near Ceduna.
He played his junior football with the Salisbury North Hawks, as did the Bond brothers Shane and Troy, Michael O’Loughlin and Michael Walters (the father of Fremantle talent Micky “son son” Walters).
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