Redlegs rally for Down

September 25, 2017

Complete team: Tallygaroopna players brought a cut out of A-grade ace Fiona Down (second from right) to KDFNL grand final day. The midcourt player was unable to watch her side compete in a grand final as she battles cancer.

Watching on: A cardboard cut out of Fiona Down was on the sidelines, as Tallygaroopna players tried their absent team mate.

Tallygaroopna gave everything it could in defeat, with an absent teammate at the forefront of their minds.

A-grade midcourt star Fiona Down was diagnosed with breast cancer six weeks ago and missed Saturday’s grand final against Nagambie.

Having had an operation on Thursday, Down was unable to be at Mooroopna Recreation Reserve for her team’s match.

But her teammates ensured she would be have an impact, with a life size cut out standing next to them during the national anthem.

All three of the Tallygaroopna netball teams wore pink armbands as coach Julie Telford said the past six weeks had showed how much Down meant to the group.

‘‘It’s been a whirlwind, she didn’t play last weekend, but she was there on the sideline,’’ she said.

‘‘But she had her big op (operation) on Thursday and she’s been Skyped in (to the game), the girls have been carrying a phone around.’’

Telford said Down desperately wanted to be on the sidelines on Saturday to cheer the team on, as the side attempted to win in her honour.

‘‘We tried to use that as a positive encouragement thing, netball is everything for Fi and she wants to be there (at netball), she wants to play and she wanted to be here (on Saturday) and it’s gutted her not to,’’ Telford said.

But Telford said she could not have asked for any more from her side to bring the win home.

Five goals behind at three-quarter-time, Tallygaroopna forced the game into extra time before the Lakers ran our winners.

‘‘We missed Fi, we certainly did, but we did run out of legs, there’s nothing that the girls could have done, they were trying their hardest and then you could see the fatigue was starting to set in,’’ Telford said.

Down celebrated her 300th club game last month, having won three B-grade premierships (2003, 2005 and 2008) as she stepped up to the A-grade side midway through 2010.

She claimed the B-grade best-and-fairest awards in 2003, 2009 and 2010 while being a valuable club contributor serving as secretary and president since starting at the club in 2001.

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