Wheatbelt winner

30 Sep, 2015 09:21 AM
Nat Fyfe after winning Monday night's Brownlow Medal.
Very early on he worked out how to get the ball away from them
Nat Fyfe after winning Monday night's Brownlow Medal.

LAKE Grace Landmark agent Garry Prater has a theory about why 2015 Brownlow Medal winner, Fremantle Dockers' star and feted local boy Nat Fyfe is such a good footballer.

"He grew up playing football on the front lawn after school with the kids next door," said Mr Prater, who on Tuesday was feeling a little seedy after a big night in the Lake Grace pub watching the Brownlow count on TV.

"He lived next door to the Mortons.

"The three Morton boys were all bigger and stronger than he was, he was the smallest.

"So he had to be bloody good and work bloody hard just to get a kick against them."

A long-term Lake Grace resident, Mr Prater has known local transport operator David Fyfe since his sons Liam and Nat were very young.

He said their next-door neighbour Noel Morton had played in the legendary 1981 Claremont premiership team.

Morton also coached a very young Nat in the Lake Grace-Pingrup Bombers' D grade junior football team, so Fyfe had a good early football mentor.

His three sons, after they finished playing front lawn footy with Fyfe, each went on to AFL football careers.

Mitch played for the West Coast Eagles, Richmond and the Sydney Swans, kicking two goals in the Swans' 2012 premiership grand final.

Middle brother Jarryd played for Hawthorn and the youngest Cale, a year older than Fyfe, played for Melbourne and West Coast.

"Fyfe grew up playing footy against boys that were bigger than him," Mr Prater said.

"Very early on he worked out how to get the ball away from them.

"You'd see him run up to the bigger boys when they've got the ball and were still trying to work out which way to hold it to kick it, and he'd just grab it away from them and be gone before they knew what was happening."

He said Fyfe's mother Christine's side of the family has size and sporting ability.

"The Naisbitts were off a local farm and his uncles were all big boys and good at sport, football, running,'' Mr Prater said.

"The girls were all good netballers too."

He said the Lake Grace Hotel "went off" when Fyfe, sporting a cane as a necessary fashion accouterments because of a fractured fibula incurred early in Friday's preliminary final Dockers loss to Hawthorn, was declared the winner with 31 votes as fairest and best.

"It was awesome," he said of the front-bar patrons' celebration, chanting "Fyfey, Fyfey, Fyfey" in unison as it became clear the early leader in the tally would not be overtaken as the umpires' votes were awarded for the last six matches of which Fyfe had only played in two because of injury.

"There must have been at least 60 people in the front bar of the pub for the count,'' Mr Prater said.

Lake Grace Shire president Andrew Walker said he was confident the local council and the community would do something to recognise Fyfe's achievement.

"We have a council meeting early this month and I'm pretty sure there will be a bit of discussion around what we can do," Mr Walker said.

"He normally comes back here during harvest and jumps in a truck to help out so I think we might be able to do something closer to Christmas.

"Over the years there's been some very good footballers come out of this area, you don't have to go very far from here to come up with names like Bairstow, Duckworth, Ditchburn and the like."

Lake Grace-Pingrup Bombers' Football Club co-president and life member John O'Neill, a former player and over the years coach of A, B, C and D grade Bombers' teams, said "the whole community is very proud" of Fyfe.

"We're the only town in WA that can boast we are home to a Brownlow Medal winner, a Sandover Medal winner and a premiership medal winner," he said.

Mark Bairstow, who grew up on a Lake Grace farm, won the WAFL Sandover Medal as 1986 fairest and best while captaining South Fremantle, before going on to captain Geelong in the AFL.

When he won the medal the Lake Grace-Pingrup Bombers organised a giant banner which hung over the Lake Grace main street for about six weeks proclaiming "Welcome to Bairstow country".

Mr O'Neill said a similar giant banner was already being organised to celebrate Fyfe's Brownlow win.

"We've got a couple of options for the wording, which hasn't been finalised yet, but it will be high above the main street long before he gets back here," he said.

Mr O'Neill and many of the club's members and supporters joined the throng in the front bar of the hotel on Monday night to watch the count.

"It was standing room only,'' Mr O'Neill said.

Mal Gill

Mal Gill

is wool and dairy writer for Farm Weekly


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