Billy Bags A Double Hundred

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‘Billy’ first played footy with local junior club Westbrook, starting out as an 8 year old. He played 108 games at Westbrook, winning five junior premierships and a couple of best and fairest awards and played junior rep footy … “all standard stuff” according to Luke! It was during these formative years that he became team-mates and friends with fellow Demon’s players Jarrod Myers and Seb Parker … friendships that span over 20 years of football and highlight the power of sport for building life-long relationships. Billy joined the Senior Club in 2000 as a 17 year old. He had 13 games with the under 18s and played in a losing Grand Final that year. He then took time away from the game for a couple of years before returning to football in 2003. That year, he played mainly Reserve Grade but did also get his first taste of senior grade footy. In 2003 and 2004 he played in the losing team in consecutive Reserve Grade Grand Finals, going down to North Shore on both occasions. He is a 1-Club man, having played with the Demons every season since 2003, with the only exception being 2006, when a year’s absence meant that he missed the opportunity to win a first grade flag that year. Returning to footy once again in 2007, Billy has been a mainstay of the first grade side for much of the past decade; his height at 195 cm and great marking ability making him an indispensable asset for the Firsts. Playing in his favoured jumper No 59, Luke was part of the premiership side that won the Premier Division flag in 2008, when the Demons demolished traditional rivals East Coast Eagles by a massive 104 points. The following year was also successful for Luke, as he was voted the Most Improved in Premier Division and was named in the AFL Sydney Team of the Year in 2009 … a fitting reward for this talented player. Most recently, he played in the 2013 Premier Division Grand Final, the Demons narrowly losing to Manly on that occasion. He kicked 49 goals in Premier Division that year and a solitary goal in Reserve grade made it an even 50 for the season. With his good height, Luke has played most of his footy in the forwards and the ruck. Full forward has been his position of choice for the past few seasons. In the Grand Final edition of the Football Record in 2013, he was noted as a “strong key forward who is rarely beaten in a marking contest.” He rates Demon faithful Barnaby Howarth as the best footballer he’s played with and former Swans star Troy Luff as the best he’s played against. Luke names his parents as his biggest influence in life; as for coaches, Mike Kenny at Westbrook and Chris Yard at Penno have been important mentors and role-models. Billy notes that he’s either played with, or been coached by, Yardy in just about every season he’s been at the Demons. His long-time friend and club-mate, Jarrod Myers, describes Billy as “loyal, too honest for his own good, very funny … but very stubborn.” His loyalty and commitment to family and friends runs very deep and he has great passion for footy. As a footballer, Luke’s size and build are significant attributes. Jazz reckons that Billy is “one of the best marks Penno has probably seen, and his kicking has gotten better too. His worst trait is always playing on and getting tackled from behind or after brushing off a tackler.” Jazz recalls that “he sprang up late … he wasn’t much good until he was about 23, when he shot up in size and bulk and all of a sudden was Yardy’s number 1 ruckman/forward. I think he started to take things seriously then too, and really wanted to win a flag after we lost so many in Ressies. He made his way back into my team last year as a Div 3 midfielder … but now he is back in Prems, where he belongs until retirement, fittingly also for his 200th game. His position as ruckman in the

[2009] Team of the Year award was probably a big highlight for him that we were pretty stoked about as well.” For Jazz, Luke’s “big marks are pretty memorable!” And as memories of Luke go, Jazz’s “favourite game was not one I played in, but a final against North Shore a few years back. We were down and Bill took 3 or 4 massive marks in the final term, and with seconds to go, came from 4 deep to take a massive grab with Penno a goal down. He wheeled around and hand passed to Kizza who banged it home from 50m and we won.” Bill has done that for over a decade at Penno. Jazz is confident Billy will “give East Coast and Manly a few headaches heading into the pointy end of this season, and along with a few other boys, finish his career with one more GF and a shot at a flag.” As for anecdotes, there are a few that can be mentioned including: “punching a guy out in Wollongong after being harassed, bicep contests with Brawny at end of season drinking sessions, and the love affair Yardy has had with him for so long!” “Bill loves footy, and hasn’t been able to retire for the last 3 years. If this is his last, it’s been a good career, over 10 years, lots of finals, and he has definitely been someone the club, coaches, players and supporters have loved watching him play and just being around.” Now in his early thirties and with a young family, Luke has contemplated retiring from footy on a number of occasions. He was all set to give it away at the end of 2013, but his great mate Jazz Myers coaxed him back to play third grade in 2014. Looking for a reduced load, he opted to play Reserves this season, however, as things have turned out, a dwindling stock of “talls” has necessitated his elevation to Premier Division in the second half of this season. Being the loyal Demon that he is, Billy has gladly accepted this role and one suspects he is secretly enjoying competing again at the highest level. Reflecting on his footy career, Luke says that “playing footy has been a huge part of my life and I’m having a hard time retiring, as the people around the club keep drawing me back in.” In his 12 seasons with the Club, Luke has played in finals every year and this fine record should continue in 2015, whether it be with Prems or Ressies, as both teams are poised for a major assault on this season’s finals series. Wherever he ends up playing, he will inevitably have a vital role to play and we wish him luck for the remainder of 2015 and congratulate him on his outstanding achievement of 200 club games.
By |2017-12-18T17:57:53+00:00August 27th, 2015|News|