Legend marches in

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Lechelle Earl, owner/editor

Legend marches in

Nangwarry Football Club has secured former Collingwood star Dane Swan to play Round 1 against Mount Burr on April 15.

The exciting one-off game will kick off the 2023 Mid South East Football League season and will take place on Nangwarry’s home turf.

Swan told The SE Voice in an exclusive interview that he looked forward to playing the game at Nangwarry and he loved giving back to the game and the people.

“I love getting out to the regional areas of Australia and playing with all sorts of players and hopefully helping some of the younger players reach their goals,” he said.

“I love the total difference of country footy to 100,000 people at the MCG.

“Just mixing with the community and loving their enthusiasm really excites me and I just love playing footy.

“I guess what people can expect is me giving 110% and doing my best to get another win on the board for a club that has struggled of late, and I want to try as hard as I can to deliver the next one.”

Former manager of the AFL star Ricky Nixon bought a house in Mount Gambier with his partner last year and said the game for Nangwarry came about over a beer with his neighbour and Nangwarry player Mick ‘Chappo’ Chaplin.

“We come across from Melbourne when we can and absolutely love the place and the people,” he said.

“One of our neighbours Mick Chaplin was having a beer with me one night and I asked if Nangwarry, where he plays, would be interested in Dane Swan playing a one-off game.

“I must admit, I had no idea they had lost 160 games in a row and an arsonist had burnt the clubrooms down.

“When I saw Swanny I said let’s do this, we need to help them.

“Football made my life from when I was a young kid and I love giving back to the game and helping local footy clubs.”

Nixon said the best and biggest games took place in more remote regional areas such as where Nangwarry was located because they attracted lots of the farming communities along with people driving from up to 1.5 hours away.

Swan said he had played several of these one-off games over the last couple of years and he also does a full pre-season with St Kilda City in Melbourne, who are in the Southern League.

“Once clearances close on June 30 each year I play with St Kilda City only,” he said.

“I really enjoy playing there as well with ex-AFL players such as Brendan Fevola and Aaron Edwards.

“I try to get to some Collingwood games each year where I can and I’m always happy to help young players coming up.”

Swan’s connection with Nixon came about after they hosted a sports night in Tasmania together three years ago and the pair hit it off from there.

“He’s great at organising things and I need that support with these games because I like to focus on playing,” Swan said.

“I think we make a good team and it seems to work well in the community.”

Nixon said the games and sports nights had booked out every weekend since they began hosting them.

“We have that unique partnership where we are very different cats, but it works great and I love working with him,” he said.

Nangwarry Football Club president Shane Ploenges said he was excited for the game, which he believed would attract people from far and wide.

“At this stage there is no other footy down in the South East and Dane is a pretty popular figure, so I think we will get a lot of people from all over the place out,” Ploenges said.

“It is very exciting, hopefully we can attract a lot of people and some exposure to the young kids that are in the team with playing with someone of that quality.”

Ploenges believed the match would be great for the Nangwarry Football and Netball Club and community because it would showcase the new clubroom facility and show people what Nangwarry was all about.

“We are a club that is moving forward in the right direction, so to get a lot of different people out to the club and view what we have got to offer will be really good and I think it is really important for the young kids in the team,” he said.

“We have a bit of a younger team and the experience that he brings that young kids can learn from, even though it is a one-off game they will hopefully get a lot out of it.”

Ploenges encouraged people to come out and watch the match to see a footballer of Swan’s ability play, the impact he will have on a game of footy and what he does with the ball.

Ploenges is looking forward to the football season ahead at Nangwarry, which he said was looking promising.

“The past couple of years we have brought a lot of people into the club and the younger ones coming through and the recruits we picked up this year are looking really positive, so I’m very excited,” he said.

Nixon said he has also formed a great relationship with the Mount Gambier RSL, where he will host several sports nights this year.

“We started with Sam Newman last September and I’ll be doing a show with Wayne Carey and another special surprise guest Saturday night March 4,” he said.

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