400 games, Down with that

August 24, 2017

Tallgaroopna stalwart Helen Down will play her 400th game on Saturday.

Helen Down is breaking records at Tallygaroopna, beginning with playing her 400th game on Saturday.

Her longevity means she is ranked third on the overall Redlegs games tally, with the veteran beginning her career at the club in 1997.

She missed just one season in 2002, taking a year to play in the Goulburn Valley League for Mooroopna.

While the milestone comes this week, the club celebrated her achievements last round at Tallygaroopna’s final home match.

With the speeches, presentation and special acknowledgements out of the way, Down will treat Saturday’s contest against Stanhope like any other of her previous 399 matches.

Her commitment to the club has resulted in Down barely missing a game, with soft tissue injuries her only concern.

A major highlight was forming a part of Tallygaroopna’s A-grade premiership in 2008, along with four other grand final wins in B-grade.

‘‘(The A-grade flag) was very special because it was the first one that they’d won, but I couldn’t celebrate too much though,’’ she said.

Down’s festivities were subdued because she was 16 weeks pregnant with son Bayden.

But that is just the dedication to the club Down has always shown, having been in a similar position two years prior.

Down was a member of B-grade’s 2006 premiership side when expecting daughter Tamsyn, also taking home grand finals in the same grade in 2003, 2005 and 2014.

‘‘I hadn’t had that success until I got to Tally; at Congupna (where she played previously) we played in a lot of finals, but couldn’t get the end result,’’ Down said.

‘‘Coming to Tally I was able to get that, so that was nice and I was fortunate to be in the right grade at the right time with the right people.’’

With Saturdays between March and September blocked out for games, netball always comes first — for a little while longer at least.

‘‘I suppose that’s just what I enjoy and that’s my winter sport and I guess I’d probably feel lost if I stop; the only reason would be kids sport taking over or unless I do an injury,’’ Down said.

But she does not think she will make it past the more than 500 games of Kelli Halden to take top spot at the Redlegs.

Regardless, Down is confident there are at least a few more years left of Saturdays being spent at Tallygaroopna Recreation Reserve.

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