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Season celebrates players’ milestones

Alicia Perera and Taylar AmoniniPilbara News

The 2017 North Pilbara Football League season has included no shortage of milestones with a number of players celebrating anywhere from their 100th to 300th games.

Several of the league’s six clubs have this year acknowledged long-term players who through years of commitment to their teams have shown they not only have a love for the game, but also for their local club.

Chief among those is Wickham Wolves’ Richie Helsewood, who became only the second player in the NPFL’s history to make it to 300 games last round, playing his milestone match in the reserves side against the Dampier Sharks.

Helsewood started playing junior football for the Roebourne Magpies while at school and has since gone on to play, coach and mentor young players for two generations.

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He has also been a committee member and volunteer around the club.

Wolves president Paul Lott said Helsewood had made a major contribution to the club during his long-term service and was an inspiration for a lot of the club’s young players.

“He’s been not only a player, he’s been a coach, for reserves and juniors, over the years and been on the committee,” he said.

“He had three years off in between that when his family was young, so he probably could have played more.

“When players see that Richie’s played 300 games they go ‘wow’, and I suppose a lot of them, especially the younger ones, want to be around those kinds of people because it just shows you their love for football, and he has charisma around the club as well.”

NPFL registrar Peta Mott said 300 games was a rare milestone for the league.

“With 300 games for the NPFL over 30 years he is one of only two who has reached this mark and the NPFL congratulate Richie on his achievement,” she said.

Karratha Falcons have had several players celebrate their 100th-200th games this season.

Brett McCormack and Michael Formanczyk ran out on the field for their 200th games earlier this season, marking years of commitment to the Karratha side.

McCormack, a long-term Falcons committee member, manager and volunteer, also announced his immediate retirement at the end of last week’s round 13 game.

Michael Bunting and Bien Van Le also celebrated their 150th and 100th games, respectively, for the Falcons this season.

As well as celebrating a club milestone of 50 years in operation last month, the Port Hedland Rovers marked a 200th game milestone for player Leon Monaghan — who now holds the record for most games at the club — and 100 games for player Chris Sims.

Sims, who celebrated the landmark last round, said he was a diehard football player who had joined the Rovers upon moving to the Pilbara six years ago.

“I think I’d played about 80 games for Mount Lawley before moving up here 2011 and I’ve been Rovers since 2011, which is where I reached 100,” he said.

“We only play 15 games a year so it’s a lot harder to get milestones up in the Pilbara.”

He said playing for the Rovers had done a lot to shape his time in Hedland. “I don’t think I would have been able to stay long without the footy club and the boys there, it’s what really makes the town feel like home,” he said.

The Dampier Sharks and Karratha Kats each celebrated a handful of 50-game milestone players for 2017 who will be acknowledged at the clubs’ upcoming presentation nights.

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