Thought I would start a thread where only positive articles would get time. So to start, this is in the Hun. Enjoy.
Dyson Heppell is earning a reputation as a quality footballer and person, shaping as future Essendon captain
- Jon Anderson
- Herald Sun
- July 12, 2014 7:05PM
Dyson Heppell is shaping as Essendon‘s next captain. Picture: Wayne Ludbey.
IN an era where confusion reigns over the status of AFL players as role models, Essendon‘s Dyson Heppell embraces his celebrity and uses it in a positive manner wherever possible.
It‘s a far cry from Chris Judd‘s opinion that footballers aren‘t role models, a view shared by many of his contemporaries in the AFL world, and it doesn‘t make one right or better than the other. It‘s just the path they have both chosen, Heppell being the antithesis of an archetypical AFL footballer.
FLETCH‘S FUTURE IN HIS OWN HANDS: BOMBER
He has enjoyed an end of season trip to LA with the best of them but equally relished the opportunity two years ago to travel to India with the Red Dust Foundation and assist in volunteer work while exploring that part of the world.
Heppell‘s older brother Jamin, who runs a company that develops young Victorian sporting leaders into community leaders, said his brother, or â€œDyseâ€ as he calls, will take the opportunities that come his way.
Essendon’s Dyson Heppell in India.
â€œHe acknowledges himself as an influential character within society because of the publicity he gets. He is very conscious of the way he behaves and makes sure he gives back to the community,â€ said Jamin.
â€œHe went across to India a couple of years back with the Red Dust Foundation. He was on a trip to Alice Springs to work with some indigenous kids as a family favour when he met Simon McKeon who is the founder of Red Dust. Simon invited him to India to understand that world. It was a phenomenal chance for him.â€
The Heppell brothers, which include the youngest in Aaron who is playing in the VFL with Essendon and studying exercise and sports science, live together in Essendon enabling their parents Ann-Marie and Paul to be regular visitors from their Gippsland home.
Peter Francis, who has been with Gippsland Power as regional manager for 20 years and has seen the cream, players such as Brendon Goddard, Rob Murphy, Scott Pendlebury, Jarryd Roughead and Dale Thomas, rates Heppell one of his favourites.
â€œHe‘s just a wonderful person. An unbelievable kid, really engaging from the time I met him when he was 14 in our U15s. He captained our U18 team and the game he played in the 2010 Preliminary final against red-hot favourites Oakleigh remains one of the best individual TAC Cup performances I have seen. He pulled us across the line,â€ said Francis, 56.
Dyson with brother Jamin, mum Ann-Maree, dad Paul and brother Aaron before the 2010 draft on the Gold Coast. Picture: Michael Dodge
â€œWhen Adrian Dodoro from Essendon rang me about Dyson I said if you get him he will become a captain of Essendon. Right from a young age he did everything right, from his hot and colds, just so professional, I have never seen a young player so professional.â€
How the shaggy-haired Leongatha lad got to Essendon at Pick 8 remains one of those draft mysteries, a similar story to Joel Selwood in the 2006 draft slipping through to 7 due to an alleged chronic knee condition that would supposedly end his career prematurely.
In Heppell‘s case the drums were beating loudly that he had Osteitis Pubis, a buzz injury of the time that crippled players through acute groin soreness. While he had hardly missed a game as a junior with Gippsland Power, at least one and maybe two clubs believed the gossip.
So Brisbane bypassed him with pick 5 and chose Jared Polec, a highly-talented running player who would return to his hometown of Adelaide three years later which cost Port Adelaide their Pick 34. And Richmond used Pick 6 on Reece Conca, an in-and-under midfielder who had produced a fine U18 Championship series.
Dyson Heppell in action for the Gippsland Power against the Calder Cannons in the 2010 TAC Cup Grand Final.
Gold Coast then chose Josh Caddy at Pick 7, leaving the Bombers barely believing their luck that Heppell was still available. And as luck would have it the Heppell family doctor was long-serving Essendon medico Bruce Reid, who assured the Bombers‘ list manager Adrian Dodoro that there would be no long-term OP problems. Dodoro had spoken briefly with Heppell at draft camp but given up all hope when hel produced a 2.95 sec 20m speed test.
The Bombers had rated Heppell top 3 in a draft where David Swallow and Harley Bennell were picks 1 and 2. In anticipation they wouldn‘t secure Heppell, Essendon produced two prerecordings prior to the draft where they introduced Dion Prestia (Pick 9) and Shaun Atley (17) to the club‘s supporters. The idea was as soon as Dodoro said the name then the club could put the video of either Prestia or Atley on the Black and Red website, but someone hacked into their computer system and released the videos.
It was embarrassing at the time even if the club had realised the night before that Heppell was a live chance to get through to 8: â€œMerv Keane, James Hird and myself walked over to the caravan park on the Gold Coast where the Heppell family was staying and told Dyson we would be taking him,â€ recalled Dodoro.
â€œHe was really happy as like David Zaharakis and Heath Hocking, he was a mad Essendon supporter. He was a brilliant young person then and he remains so today.â€