When burly Boggabri prop Ben Haire takes a hit-up, mouth guard protruding, each unfettered effort is a celebration of a childhood dream to play senior football for his beloved Kangaroos.
Watching from the sidelines, long-lens camera in hand, is his mother Sue, a vital cog in the club’s running, and his father Greg, the Boggabri president and a former Roo.
Once Sue’s father Barry Turner leaves hospital after a health scare, expect him to rejoin his wife Barbara at games to watch their grandson, a blaster at the Boggabri coal mine.
Also at games is his younger sister, Ashlee, who plays league tag for the Roos.
And hovering over all of them is the spirit of Ben’s late grandfather Jim Haire, who also played for the club.
Haire first played for Boggabri in under-6. It’s from there that he began dreaming of lacing up for senior footy at the Roos.
So when the side reformed for the 2013 second-division season after folding in 2007 due to lack of numbers, big Ben was part of the team as they rekindled their relationship with the town.
And there he has remained, an unmissable eruption of natural energy that slams into defensive walls with an almost mindless abandon that you can’t help but admire – self-preservation seemingly secondary to team momentum. “I sort of run as hard as I can,” he said.
He added: “I watched senior football there [Boggabri] for a long time as a young kid, like running around. Dad always used to play in the afternoon. We’d play in the morning.
“So it was good to come back and play senior football there. It was really good.”
The Roos’ elevation to Group 4’s top tier this season has tested them and Haire. The side will look to win for the first time in 2018 when they play the Magpies at Werris Creek on Saturday.
“It’s been a step-up, just with the pace of the game, from second division. It’s a lot quicker,” Haire said. “You’ve got to be fitter to play up there, with teams like Norths and Gunnedah and Kootingal.”
He added: “A win around the corner will be there somewhere.”
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