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‘Issie’ a ‘Chip’ off the old block

I first met ‘Issie’ before we were both drafted.

We were both country lads, Issie from NSW and myself from Ballarat and we met when he was attending university in Ballarat.

I’d heard a few stories about him – he was a wild young fella who loved his footy.

He was a skinny guy, about 65kg, running around for Redan in the Ballarat Football League.

When I moved to Hawthorn ahead of the 2015 season we formed a pretty close bond – he’s actually married to my cousin!

It seems the Ballarat ties have caught up with us at the Hawthorn Football Club.

Issie’s energetic and full of beans, as I’m sure you can tell from our Canberra game where he ran out in Speedos despite the fact it was about to snow!

He’s a great guy to have around the club and everyone loves having him there.

Issie’s got an infectious smile and brings that energy to the club and the group.

Footy can be pretty challenging, especially if you’re losing or having a bad run of form, but he’s the type of player who is able to lift the spirits of those around him.

It’ll come as no surprise that Issie is held in high regard around the footy club.

His work rate on the field is crazy and he runs like a madman – it hasn’t changed since I first saw him at Redan running around the outside trying to get those cheap handballs!

Issie and I have shared many special memories together over the course of our friendship.

We own a business together, Jamu Dining in Richmond, and are passionate about our work outside of footy.

Issie is pretty frugal, which works perfectly running the business.

He’s finished his MBA (Master of Business Administration) and is pretty switched on.

He works hard with everything he does. He’s a pleasure to be around whether it’s at the footy club or elsewhere.

To be honest, there’s not a bad word to say about him, but I think one of the memories I’ll cherish forever about our friendship was before the 2015 grand final.

Issie and I drove to Waverley Park the day before the game for our Captain’s run.

I was pretty nervous as I hadn’t played in a finals series before, let alone a Grand Final!

Issie shared some words of wisdom from his own experiences about what to expect and how to handle the pressure.

It gave me confidence and helped to settle my nerves a bit beforehand – I had to see it as just another game of footy.

We went on to beat West Coast and celebrate accordingly with teammates, family and friends.

It’s memories like that I’ll cherish forever and I’m so thankful that Issie took the time to help and support me.

Good luck in your 200th game.

It’s a wonderful achievement and you’ve achieved so much in your 199 games so far.

You’ve been a great player and a great friend over the journey.

I’m looking forward to many more years of footy to come and beers after that!