Round 21 – August 26, 2006.
Tom Lonergan was playing the most promising game of his then seven-match career at Geelong.
“I was a young kid… trying to do whatever it took to stay in the side. One of those things was going back with the flight,” the 31-year-old told Channel 7’s cameras last weekend.
Anyone who knows Tom Lonergan’s story will be aware of what happened next.
A heavy collision with Melbourne’s Brad Miller sent Lonergan to hospital, where he was put into an induced coma. By the time he’d woken up, he’d lost a kidney. He was lucky not to have lost his life.
“It was touch and go, certainly, for a long time,” Lonergan reflected.
“I lost 43 units of blood. When you go in and give blood, it’s [a full] one of those bags.”
“I’m grateful that it was there and people were willing to give blood.”
Without it, Longergan would not have survived. Almost a decade on, the dual premiership player is encouraging others to donate blood.
“One in three people need blood throughout their lifetime. It’s so easy to do – it only takes an hour to go in there and sit in a chair. Going in to give blood can potentially save up to three lives.”
While Lonergan’s still prepared to do whatever he can to get the Cats over the line each weekend, it’s fair to say his perspective on the game has changed.
Some words of wisdom from Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley have stuck in his mind.
“I heard one of my old coaches, Ken Hinkley say that footy’s the most important thing of the non-important things.”