Loyalty drives Lewis back to lead Dogs

From when he first pulled on the footy boots for Dennington as a six-year-old, DARCY LEWIS has remained true to the Dogs throughout his career and is now gearing up for another stint as coach, he tells TIM AULD.

Darcy Lewis is gearing up to coach Dennington seniors again next season. 130907RG68 Picture: ROB GUNSTONE

Darcy, I was wondering whether you could give us an insight into whether your cousin Jordan Lewis will line up for the Hawks in the grand final this Saturday after he copped a corked thigh in the preliminary final against Port Adelaide?

Tim, I think it will take more than a corked thigh to stop Jordan from playing in the grand final. He’s pretty tough. He’s done an amazing job with his career. He’s made a lot of sacrifices to play footy at the highest level. He’s had a great season as can be seen by him polling 15 votes in the Brownlow (Medal) on Monday night. He’s finished the season off in grand style and I hope he can produce another big game on Saturday.

Did you ever play in a senior game with Jordan before he joined the Hawks?

Yes. We played for Warrnambool. The game was against Port Fairy over at the Gardens Oval. Jordan got best on the ground while I was fortunate enough to be selected second best on the ground.

Has Jordan’s achievements on the footy field surprised you?

Not really. When we were growing up I was either at his place or he was at mine and we played a lot of backyard footy together. He was always very competitive. The funny thing is when he was a kid he had a real awkward kicking style but he’s just worked on that and now he’s rated as one of the best kicks in the AFL, but as I said previously, he’s made a lot of sacrifices over the years to get so good. I would say all the sacrifices are worth it now as he’s played in two premiership sides with the Hawks and with fingers crossed it might be three this Saturday. He also made the All-Australian side this year which is another great achievement.

Does Jordan come back home to Warrnambool much?

He comes home occasionally but as you can imagine, not much during the footy season. Jordan came home with his good mate Jarryd Roughead in February. We went out to a mate’s property to do a bit of shooting. We got a few foxes and had a really good time.

Has Jordan organised any tickets for you to the grand final this Saturday?

No. I never asked. I don’t like asking him for favours. He gets asked for lots of favours by lots of people so I just don’t bother. I will be watching the grand final with a few family members and mates on Saturday. We’ll have a few beers and cheer the Hawks on. I have been invited to his wedding in a few weeks. I’ll have to get a dinner suit. It should be a big event. I suppose a lot of his mates from Hawthorn will be there.

Darcy, earlier you said Jordan was a tough footballer. The toughness appears to be in the family as your dad ‘Boofa’ was renowned as one of the toughest players to have played in the Warrnambool and District Football Netball League when he played for Dennington. What memories do you have of Boofa playing for Dennington?

My memories are a bit sketchy. I can remember climbing the trees out at the Dennington Oval when I was five years old while Boofa was playing. My brother Sam is a bit older than me. He can remember more. I often go back to The Standard newspaper clippings which Boofa has kept to read about his career. The clippings make interesting reading. I would say Boofa had a strong presence on the ground. He broke his left wrist and played with a cast on his hand for 10 years. Boofa is the last premiership coach of Dennington that was back in 1988. There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since that win. The club is chasing another flag. We hope to achieve that within the next few years.

Was it the desire to win a premiership as playing coach that saw you sign on for the next two seasons?

I had coached the club in 2011, 2012 and 2013. I decided to take over the coaching role again as the club has played such an important part in my life. I enjoyed having the year away from coaching but I’m glad I’m back now. The club and the players indicated they wanted me back so that’s great to have their support. We made the preliminary final in 2012 and made the grand final in 2013. The club is putting structures in place which means it will be in a strong position for many years to come. We’ve got some talented young players in the ranks and they will be given every opportunity to develop their skills. The club is well-placed to end its premiership drought but needs to bolster its key position stocks. We probably need a couple more key players to strengthen the spine up. We have a really good spine but if we get injuries we’re in trouble. I’ve already started having talks with players who played for Dennington this season. I’m confident the bulk of players will play for the club again next season which is really great.

Darcy, did your footy career begin at Dennington?

Yes. I was six years old when I played in the under 13s. We moved into Warrnambool when I was 12 to live so I went and played with St John’s which became Warrnambool’s under 16 side. I was lucky to have played in the under 16 premiership side when we defeated South Warrnambool. The game was a thriller. We were down six goals at half-time but ended up winning in extra time. I played in a reserves premiership with Warrnambool when I was 16 years old but played my first senior game with Dennington when I was on permit from Warrnambool. Gerard Sully was the coach at Dennington at the time. It would have been in 1998. When I was 19 I decided to go on an overseas trip. I sold my ute, fridge, couch and four calves and bought a round-the-world ticket. I had $800 spending money in my pocket. My trip started in Canada and after one week I had run out of money. I got a job on a dairy farm and tried to save a quid before going over to Ireland. I stayed at a place called Trim in Ireland and I worked as a plasterer. I had a stint working in England before I decided to come home.

When you were overseas did you play any sports?

When I was living in Canada I played ice hockey and did some bull riding. I rode in two different bull riding associations on Saturdays and Sundays. It was an amazing experience. When I came back to Warrnambool Butch Smith had a chat to me and my brother Sam out at the Shamrock Hotel and asked if we would play for Dennington again. We were always going to go back and play for them.

During your footy career you’ve showed that you had a fair bit of ability. Have you had any regrets that you didn’t play more games in the Hampden Football Netball League instead of the Warrnambool and District league?

Not really. I’ve enjoyed playing out at Dennington. It’s a great family club. I’ve just loved being involved with my family and friends at the club. I’ve had a few HFNL clubs ring me over the years but I’ve just told them I’m happy where I am out at Dennington.

Darcy, what are some of the highlights from your career?

I would have to rate the effort of Bryan Beinke to kick eight goals in one quarter against us as an amazing highlight. Beinke was playing with Timboon Demons at the time. He was just unstoppable. I think he kicked 12 goals for the game and never played in the last quarter. I used to watch in awe how good a player Simon Jenkins was. He was an excellent player. He was quick, skillful and full of courage. Other good players were Justin Nowell and Luke Duncan. Luke has won four best and fairest trophies at Dennington which is a great effort.

Have you sustained many injuries during your footy career?

When I was young I never had many injuries but when you get a bit older the hamstrings tighten up a bit and I’ve split the webbing in my hands on various occasions.

Away from footy have you been involved in any other sports?

I’ve been involved with greyhounds. I’ve trained a few over the past year and reared some but my days of training greyhounds look like they are over for a while as I go back to coaching at Dennington for the next two seasons.

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