This weekend one of the Demon’s finest players, Ranga ‘Reggie’ Ediriwickrama, plays his 150th open-age game for the Pennant Hills Demons.
A former junior soccer player, Reggie was coaxed across to Aussie Rules by school-mates Matt Thomas and Ben Urwin, joining the Under 12s at Westbrook in 2002. From the outset, Reggie possessed an aptitude for footy that would ultimately take him to the highest level. If not for persistent injury, he could conceivably have become a household name amongst footy fans and be gracing our TV screens on the Fox Footy channel. But this cruel stroke of fate for Reggie has become a great boon for Pennant Hills. Returning to the Club in 2012, we have now all had the privilege to witness Reggie’s enormous talent at close range.
In 2006, still only 15 years old, Reggie played his first games with Pennant Hills Under 18s, whilst also playing a second season with the Redbacks. In the Kealey Medal that year, he finished second with 14 votes from his Redback appearances and equal fifth with 10 votes from his Penno appearances. His combined total of 24 votes was six votes better than the actual winner of the medal, Brydon Coles from the North Shore Wildcats (18 votes). Brydon, a one-time player at Pennant Hills Juniors, went on to win the Phelan Medal in 2009 playing with Sydney University.
It took him 10 years longer, but in 2019 it was Reggie’s turn to take out the highest honour in the AFL Sydney Men’s competition, becoming the most recent recipient of the Phelan Medal just last season. This capped off a long stretch of consistent, high performance football ranking him amongst the best in the League over an extended period. Over the past five seasons, Reggie has finished in the Top 10 of Phelan Medal vote-getters on four occasions including last season’s first place.
2007 was a big year for Reggie. He debuted for Premier Division, played with the Sydney Swans Reserves and was awarded an AFL Scholarship with Geelong Football Club. His first grade debut for Pennant Hills was a home game at Ern Holmes Oval in Round 5 against Sydney University; Penno winning by more than 10 goals.
2008 was also another outstanding year for Reggie, captaining NSW/ACT to the national Under 18 Division 2 championship, earning All Australian Under 18 honours, being a member of Pennant Hills Grand Final win in the Sydney AFL Premier Division and being elevated to the Geelong rookie list. Prospects for a senior AFL debut during 2009 were looking bright. However, a serious hamstring injury meant that he was only able to play a handful of VFL games with the Geelong Reserves, and further injury meant he spent more than 80 weeks of his time at the club on the sidelines.
Devastating at the time, Reggie was never able to make his senior debut with Geelong and he was cut from their list in 2010 after a frustratingly long drawn-out period of rehabilitation. To this day Reggie’s hammies are a hot topic, requiring regular care and maintenance necessitating frequent visits to the physio to keep him on the park.
Returning to Demonland in 2012, Reggie has been a regular player in Premier Division for the past nine seasons. He was a key member of the team’s flag-winning finals campaigns in 2015 and 2017. He was adjudged best on ground in the 2017 Grand Final, kicking a goal and winning the Rod Podbury Medal.
Truth be told, given Reggie’s achievements in the Sydney AFL competition and his great passion for the Pennant Hills footy club, I doubt he has many lingering regrets about his potential AFL career, cut short before it really got started.
A triple premiership player, Club Best & Fairest, Pennant Hills Footballer of the Year, Rod Podbury Medallist and culminating in last season’s Phelan Medal should leave him fulfilled and with few regrets as to where his long and successful career eventually landed him … as one of the Sydney League’s best and a true champion of the Pennant Hills footy club.
Reggie continues to play a key role as a premier player and motivator and has been and continues to be a great role-model to the bevy of ‘young pups’ coming though the senior side. He remains a vital cog in the team’s midfield engine room, an inside player with great skills and drive. The sight of Reggie bursting from a pack and breaking the lines is a joy to behold. The club’s success in 2015 re-ignited his enthusiasm for footy and the prospect of experiencing the euphoria of that moment kept him motivated for more success in 2017. His talent and drive are critical to the club’s on-field fortunes this season and into the foreseeable future. We wish him well and trust that his body is as willing as his spirit!
On behalf of everyone at Pennant Hills we wish Reggie the best of luck for his 150 game milestone match and congratulate him on this magnificent achievement!
|RANGA EDIRIWICKRAMA #5 – CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
(2006 – 08 & 2012 – 20)
|142 Senior Grade
7 Reserve Grade
1 Lower Grade
12 Under 18
|Premier Division||2017, 2015, 2008|
|AFL Sydney League Awards|
|Phelan Medal (Winner, 16 votes)
– 4 x Top 10 Finishes (2019, 2018, 2017, 2015)
– Total 81 votes (2008, 2012 – 20)
Rod Podbury Medal (Best on Ground in Grand Final)
2 x Sydney AFL Team of the Year
2014 (Forward Pocket)
|Club Awards – Premier Division|
|Pennant Hills Footballer of the Year
Best & Fairest & Player’s Player
Runner Up Best & Fairest
Best Finals Player & Best Forward
2017, 2015, 2013