As Dockers supporters continue to celebrate Nat Fyfe’s 200th AFL game against Hawthorn, Sam Lehmann faces his 250th League game for both Mount Barker Bulls and the GSFL.
The Bulls are facing old opponents North Albany in a home game on Saturday.
“We have had a lot of memorable matches against them,” Lehmann said.
“I have probably played on Graeme Ross more times than any other player.
“We have matched up with each other a lot of times over the years and it has always been a good battle.”
Memories of the club
Lehmann took some time out to reflect on two decades as a senior player with the club.
Apart from two years with Kukerin-Dumbleyung when he was at Narrogin Ag College in 2001-02, Lehmann has only played for the Bulls since returning home in 2003.
“It’s been awesome but we haven’t tasted ultimate success,” he said.
“We made a Grandie in ‘05 and again in 2016 when we lost by two or three points so that was pretty devastating.
“I won a League Grand Final in my second game playing for Kukerin and I thought there would be more to come.”
Close games the best
Nevertheless, he said his happiest memories were of those neck-and-neck games ending in unexpected victories.
“The year we lost the Grandie we had a great run of wins going into the finals, we had a maybe 10 or 12 games’ winning streak,” he said.
“A lot of the time we haven’t done that, we only just made finals or just missed but had a lot of fun on the way.
I have won seven Best and Fairest and a Kleemanm, but I would trade them all for a Bulls Premiership.
“I have won seven Best and Fairest and a Kleemanm, but I would trade them all for a Bulls Premiership.”
When asked for his major influences he started with the late coach Gary Coffee who “taught him to enjoy the game”.
Learning from opponents
He also mentioned players he squared off with as well as team mates.
“I had some really good opponents over the journey that probably taught me a little bit along the way – hard working players that grind the game out,” he said.
“I have played a lot of footy with Pete Taylor and had a lot of good times with him.
“When I first came to the club there were a few senior players I looked up to, I wanted to be in that club: Matty Taylor, Kim Lange, Craig Pieper and David Pearce.”
Mentoring young players
Lehmann, who is a Cranbrook farmer, makes a round trip of more than 100km for each training session and home game, but rarely alone.
“Most years there have been one or two younger players come through,” he said.
“It has been one of the privileges watching the kids come through – you see them in the junior ranks then you end up playing some footy with them.
“It’s quite rewarding.”
Coach Dave Johnson said Lehmann’s frequent passenger was 18-year-old Colts player Kyle Smith, who had played every league game this year.
“Kyle is a serious senior player based on the time he has spent with Sam,” Johnson said.
“To talk with Sam and communicate about footy on the drive down has been a wonderful football education for Kyle.
“The opportunity to learn from one of our club’s greatest players has been a bonus for the young player.”
Johnson described Lehmann as a “wonderful human being”.
“He has been an absolute pleasure to coach in the way he prepares,” Johnson said.
“He prepares professionally, gets himself in the right shape physically and mentally to play footy.”
“He prepares professionally, gets himself in the right shape physically and mentally to play footy.
“There was talk that he was going to retire last year and we are pleased he has decided to go again – he has shown he is still very competitive and he has had another terrific season.”
The Bulls-Kangas game is scheduled for 2.30pm this Saturday at Sounness Park.
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