Barry Kennedy, Sunbury Leader September 6, 2016 12:00pm
SUNBURY Phoenix Football Club will defend its premiership exploits of last season with a good friend in mind on Thursday.
Every year Reclink Australia hosts its series of grand finals at St Kilda’s Peanut Farm, which is supported by a range of AFL identities including coaches such as Robert Walls and players such as Essendon’s Dyson Heppell.
In 2015 the foundation Sunbury Phoenix team took out its finale with a win over the Peninsula Swans, the same team it will need to overcome again.
For the Phoenix, the game will mark just the second since their volunteer goal umpire Ron Gleeson died from a stroke.
Team coach Brian Millett said the sudden death of Mr Gleeson had galvanised the team — more than 20 players coming to his funeral on August 17 where they formed a guard of honour.
“Ron had read about the Phoenix in the paper and came down to help out,” Mr Millett said.
“This team means as much to the volunteers as it does for the players and earlier in the season we had presented a Sunbury Phoenix jacket which he was just rapt with. I was really surprised to see so many of our guys down there (Ron’s funeral), but everyone wanted to pay their respects.”
The jacket was one of the items Mr Gleeson was laid to rest with.
Mr Gleeson’s son Brad told Leader his dad had talked constantly about the team.
“As a family we didn’t really know the impact he was making with the team as it was his thing during the week, but once we saw all the Phoenix players at the funeral and saw their contribution, it was pretty overwhelming,” Brad said.
Mr Gleeson, who was 72, is survived by wife Marisa, Brad and daughter Karen.
The team will play at 12pm at the St Kilda Peanut Farm, Chaucer St, St Kilda.
Keep an eye on our website to see how Phoenix went in their big game, with plenty of action pictures.