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Mud everywhere! Darcy’s fond memories of country footy

Sean Darcy talks about his love for country footy and what football means to rural communities. Sean Darcy talks about his love for country footy and what football means to rural communities.

It might be referred to as ‘grass roots footy’ but Sean Darcy remembers more mud than anything else from his younger days playing in Cobden, located 200km west of Melbourne.

In the lead up to Fremantle’s Country Week game against Carlton on Sunday at Optus Stadium, Darcy spoke about his happy memories growing up in his hometown where country footy meant everything.

“On your Tuesday and Thursday nights you’d walk down from school to the oval and train for hours after school,” Darcy said.

“It was a lot of fun and then on the weekends you play with your mates.

“The whole ground would be mud! It was a lot of fun and you’d get back in the change rooms and you’d just be covered in it. 

“I loved it and I was lucky enough to be able to play in the seniors side when I was 16. It was good fun with all the boys.”

As well as Darcy, Cobden has produced a number of present-day AFL footballers, including brothers Zach and Jackson Merrett, Ben Cunnington and Gary Rohan.

Fremantle also has a significant number of country football players on its list. Five of Fremantle’s six leadership group members hail from the country in captain Nat Fyfe (Lake Grace), Aaron Sandilands (Mount Barker), David Mundy (Seymour, Victoria), Lachie Neale (Naracoorte, SA) and Alex Pearce (Ulverstone, Tasmania). 

Darcy said that as well as country football being important to the strength of the game in Australia, football also helps bring country towns together. 

“It’s really important. Especially in a town like Cobden,” Darcy said. 

“On the weekends everyone gets down there, even if it’s raining. The whole town shows their support. There’s a great culture and vibe in country footy.

“Whenever I go back home, I try to go to training and show my face and have run around with the boys.

“A few of my mates still play there so it’s good to catch up with them. It’s grass roots footy and they treat you like normal. It’s a lot of fun and I try to get back there as much as possible.”

On Wednesday, Fremantle players trained in their ‘state of origin’ jumpers, which gave Darcy a chance to show his pride in his Vic Country jumper.

Unfortunately, Darcy couldn’t get his jumper to Perth in time for the session and was handed a Vic Metro jumper to wear instead.

While both Vic Country and Vic Metro feature the famous ‘Big V’, the Country jumpers are white compared to the navy blue Metro jumpers. 

To avoid wearing a rival jumper, Darcy got creative with some strapping tape.

“All the boys got dressed up in their state they grew up in,” Darcy said.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t have mine as well so I decided to tape a V on mine inside out. I thought it went alright. 

“Us country boys, they grew up on the farms and the metro boys grew up in their nice little houses in the city. There’s always rivalry between us but it’s all fun and games.”

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs