Nick Hey’s 100 Game Milestone

Posted: July 5, 2024

PHAFL Sydney AFL 100th Game Nick Hey

This weekend the Club celebrates Nick Hey’s 100th open-age game for the Pennant Hills Demons.

Nick played junior footy with the Westbrook Bulldogs. He played 98 games and kicked 55 goals. In 2008, Nick was in the team that won U/12 Division 2 Grand Final and he was R/U B&F that season. He finished second to teammate Matt Vile who had originally introduced Nick to footy when he ‘instantly fell in love with the game.’

Nick was ’part of the first group of kids to be included in the Swans Academy and I learnt so much about football through that. Some serious names headlined were Mills & Heeney. Played state footy for NSW in U/16s and played for the U/18s NSW side in the TAC Cup as a 17 year old. He also played about half a season for the Swans in the NEAFL at age 17.’

Still only age 15, Nick first played with Penno Under 18s in 2012 and was a member of the 2013 Under 18 Premiership side. In 2014 he debuted for Premier Division in Round 10 against North Shore and by a quirk of fate he missed grand final selection with both Penno and the Sydney NEAFL side. For Penno, 2014 was the second consecutive year of premiership disappointment, again runner-up to Manly-Warringah.

Nick, known as ‘Chief’ to his teammates, started season 2015 predominately as a half-back but in the Round 12 ‘Back to the Ern’ match against Manly, ‘Yardy swung me forward and I managed to snag a few goals. Since then I haven’t looked back, having now carved out the rest of my career as a forward.’

Nick has been one of the club’s most prolific goalkickers. He has kicked 175 goals for Penno seniors and has twice been the Club’s leading senior goalkicker in 2018 (32 goals) and 2017 (39).

PHAFL Nick Hey
PHAFL Nick Hey

Nick says he was ‘fortunate enough to be a part of the 2015 Grand Final match against East Coast Eagles which is one of the most absurd games of footy I've ever been a part of. Penno kicked 7 goals to 1 in a last quarter against the best team in the comp by a country mile - you couldn't write a better script.’

Penno had finished 3rd after the H&A rounds, three games behind the minor premiers East Coast. The Eagles had rejoined the Sydney AFL competition after their experiment with the NEAFL concluded in 2014. They had only lost one match in season 2015 and were red hot favourites for the flag. Penno had to fight its way through three finals to get to the GF. Penno beat Manly in the QF, then lost to the Eagles in the major semi and scraped home by 3 pts against St George in the preliminary.

Penno had not beaten the Eagles in 2015 until the Grand Final when we stormed home by 7 goals to 1 in the final term after trailing by 9 pts at 3 Qtr time. In a best on ground performance Damian Dell’Aqila stunned the opposition, kicking three sensational goals to seal the Demons victory. The Eagles despair was palpable but for the Demons and its supporters it was a euphoric spectacle. An unforgettable moment in the Club’s history that sticks in the minds of all those present that day.

Nick was also a member of the 2017 premiership side, another of possibly ‘greater absurdity’ than 2015. After round 13, Penno’s record was 3 wins, a draw, 2 byes and 7 losses. Without a significant improvement Penno was at risk of missing finals. Girding their loins the players lifted and won the next 5 H&A matches and scraped into the final five. Sydney University finished minor premiers, beat North Shore in the major semi and advanced to the Grand Final with another week off.

PHAFL Nick Hey

Penno went into the finals knowing they had a huge mountain to climb but Yardy had a plan of action that proved it was possible to win from 5th place. In the Elimination Final Penno smashed St George by 87 pts, then disposed of UNSW-ES by 77 pts. Then came the preliminary final against North Shore. Down by 15 pts at 3 Qtr time, in a herculean last quarter effort, Penno won through to the Big Dance, vanquishing North Shore by 21 pts, a 6-goal turnaround.

Although most pundits no doubt were backing the Minor Premiers to win, insiders at the Demons had high hopes and were quietly confident that the underdogs could prevail. The Grand Final was an absorbing, edge-of-the seat affair. During the final Qtr, Uni crawled its way into a winning position when the scores were levelled, momentum was in their favour and there was very little time left. The ground manager came across and advised what would happen if the match ended in a draw. Thankfully, extra time was not needed as Matt ‘King’ Carey kicked his 2nd goal for the game and Penno grabbed back the lead that proved to be the last score of the match in the dying seconds.

The history books will show that Sydney University lost the game due to their poor kicking … 25 shots to Penno’s 16, and yet they still lost by 6 points. Truth be told, Penno was a deserving winner in spite of the lop-sided score-line. In the final analysis, Penno handled the Big Game pressure best and made the most of its opportunities, while Uni quailed under the pressure and squandered their chances. Penno had the perfect mix of experience and the enthusiasm of youth and came in to the finals series as, arguably, the form side.

In a low scoring match every goal is like gold and Nick kicked 3 of Penno’s 10 goals at crucial moments either side of half-time. Penno had finished the season off with victories in four consecutive finals, each one an elimination, and in a David & Goliath match-up, toppled powerhouse Club, Sydney University, in the 2017 Grand Final.

In 2020, Nick moved to Melbourne for work and was accompanied by friends and team-mates Jesse Hare and Cam Luscombe. Keen to keep playing footy, Nick joined the University Blacks where he played 45 games over three seasons. He kicked 92 goals and was the leading goalkicker in each season. In 2024, he has returned to the Demons and is ready to play a big role this season. So far this season he has kicked 12 goals, and is the team’s vice captain, a role he also had at the Uni Blacks.

As to career highlights, Nick says ‘it’s hard to go past the 2015 and 2017 GFs. They were genuinely unbelievable and to do it twice, in such extraordinary circumstances, was really special to be a part of. Something I'll hold on to forever and I'm desperate to experience again. I think more broadly speaking, the biggest highlight is the genuine friendships I've made across the years. I'm lucky to have played/still playing with some of my best mates, who will continue to be my mates for the rest of my life.’

Nick is a highly skilful forward with great hands and an excellent kick. He is equally good in the air and on the ground. He brings a wealth of experience to a new group of younger players coming through the ranks and is a great role-model both on and off the field. He is a popular personality amongst his team and clubmates.

Congratulations Chief on achieving this significant milestone!

Go Penno!

PHAFL Nick Hey Career Highlights
PHAFL Nick Hey Match Highlights