Gunnedah’s Dave Heyman runs around Rugby Park in a way that belies his 37 years on Earth.
The Red Devil was one of Gunnedah’s best in their last game of the season on Saturday as he pulled the strings at No. 9.
Apart from the pre-warning that the game would be his final hurrah, it was surprising to think Heyman was hanging up the boots after the performance he put in on Saturday.
Coach Jason Waerea was one who thought Heyman could play on.
“I reckon he’s still got another year in him,” Waerea said.
“He doesn’t look off the mark and he dominated his nine today. But it’s up to him.”
Heyman was adamant the match against Scone would be his last.
“It’s hard because I think I’m still playing alright but, no, I’ve had my time and that'll be it,” Heyman said.
The 2018 season was a swansong of sorts for Heyman.
After a prolonged stint on the sidelines through injury, the half-back made the return this year so he could leave the game on his own terms and “enjoy it, soak it all up and be with the lads”.
“It was nearly three years ago, I broke my arm here halfway through a year,” Heyman said.
“I was out and didn’t come back because my arm was no good and I’d been thinking about it [a return] for a couple of years. I finally made the decision to come back this year.”
Heyman has played around 250 games for the Red Devils since debuting in 2000.
While a premiership has eluded him, there was still plenty of memories made that Heyman looks back fondly on.
“There’s been a few. In the early 2000s, I played with some older players. I was a young fella coming through and we went close a couple times but fell at the last hurdle,” Heyman said.
“There’s been highs and lows. Some of the highs were when we were getting flogged.
“We were getting flogged by 100 but that was probably one of our better seasons team-wise.”
Heyman described the year as “bittersweet” after having a “good enough” team to make the finals but ultimately missing out.
Waerea, who stepped away from head coaching duties at Gunnedah at the end of the season, agreed and said the 31-15 loss to Scone in round nine was the turning point.
“The Scone game probably hurt us and then losing to Inverell,” Waerea said.
“Then the boys really needed to find their own feet then and we struggled to do that. The consistent numbers just weren't there.”
Waerea said the Red Devils had the potential to go to another gear in 2019.
“I’ll miss it. It’s been awesome,” he said of his time coaching the Red Devils.
“I’ve been away from footy for a long time and it’s been lovely just to get back in it.
“You feel like you're a part of it even though you're not running around.
“They’re a good bunch of guys and I think if they keep the core bunch there, they’ll be strong regardless of who’s in the seat.”
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