Gun Tatura midfielder Linc Wellington will pull on the jumper for his beloved Bulldogs for the 200th time tomorrow when the Dogs take on Benalla.OLIVER CAFFREY July 4, 2014 3:05am
Linc Wellington moved to Tatura in 2002 knowing nothing about the town and the football club.
Fast forward to this year and he is one of the Bulldogs’ most decorated players in their history and a great of Goulburn Valley Football League.
The two-time premiership player and Goulburn Valley interleague star will run out for his 200th game for Tatura tomorrow when the Bulldogs take on undefeated Benalla in a blockbuster clash at Benalla Showgrounds.
After trying his his hand in the SANFL at Central Districts, Wellington packed up his life and left for Victoria.
‘‘We came to Tat in 2002, my partner and I came over to see what it was like and we knew nothing about the place before coming over here,’’ Wellington said.
‘‘We stayed in the Tat pub for a few weeks before finding a house, then eventually bought a house and all these years later I’m still here.
‘‘I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at Tat, I’m rapt to have done it at the one GVFL club, I don’t think there’s too many players that do it nowadays.’’
Apart from a two-year coaching stint at Murray Football League club Numurkah, Wellington has been as loyal to Tatura as anyone.
That switch was always going to be temporary.
‘‘I really enjoyed my time as playing-coach at Numurkah, I’m really glad I did it, but I found the biggest thing was the round-trip in the car from Tat,’’ Wellington said.
‘‘I was always interested in coaching, the job just happened to come up, we had a good group of players and everything fitted to head to Numurkah at the time, but I was always coming back to Tat — that’s my home club.
‘‘Nothing compares to what it’s like at Tat, I’ve always enjoyed it and my GV footy.
‘‘I really wanted to do it for at least two years and give it a good go, but I was more than happy to come back in ’09 and it worked out well that (good mate and veteran ruckman) Paul Kirby came back at the same time (from Wangaratta).’’
His two flags at the kennel came at completely different stages in his career.
In 2003, Wellington was part of a young and powerful midfield brigade that stopped Echuca from capturing a third consecutive premiership.
The grinding 2012 decider had the then-experienced campaigner claim the Wilf Cox Medal for best-on-ground and lift the premiership cup as skipper with departing coach Steve Daniel.
With the Bulldogs going along nicely in the top-four under new coach Brendan van der Donk, there could be another flag still left in Wellington, 34.
‘‘I think we’ve got a pretty good side, we’ve kept a lot of those boys from 2012 when we won the flag, Paul Kirby and myself are obviously the only ones left from 2003,’’ Wellington said.
‘‘A few boys have come back this year from that premiership two years ago, we’ve got a good group together and I think on our day, we can match it with anyone.’’
A disappointing premiership defence last year had the Bulldogs bundled out of the finals in the first week by Shepparton Swans.
But Wellington said van der Donk had given the Bulldogs a new lease of life.
‘‘He’s (van der Donk) been terrific, the beauty is he’s been there quite a long time and coached a couple of premierships in the reserves,’’ Wellington said.
‘‘He knows what the group is capable of — with Scott Grigg he had to try and get to know everyone and their personalities, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but he (van der Donk) knows everyone really well and is doing a great job.’’
The respect is mutual with van der Donk.
‘‘He’s a great bloke and a family man and you couldn’t get a better guy to have a beer with,’’ van der Donk said.
‘‘I’ve known him for quite a while, but his hardness and his footy smarts really stand out — he’s a laidback sort of bloke off the field, but when you get him on the field he’s as good a competitor as any.
‘‘Just because he’s a bit older now, doesn’t mean he’s any less influential, he’s still massive for us giving us run through the midfield and giving us leadership on and off the field.’’
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