Loss drives Rams’ fi­nal ef­fort

Countryman - - COUNTRY LIFE - Zach Relph

The tragic death of a young foot­baller and wool presser dur­ing a mid­week train­ing ses­sion has been at­trib­uted as the cat­a­lyst to Muk­in­budin Rams’ heroic 2018 premier­ship feat.

Classy mid­fielder Mark War­mdean, the son of Rams life mem­ber Mark War­mdean Sr, col­lapsed and died while train­ing at Muk­in­budin Town Oval on May 24, shock­ing the wool and grain district.

War­mdean un­der­went heart surgery to rec­tify a leak­ing aorta in 2016 and re­turned to the Rams this year, af­ter miss­ing last sea­son while re­cov­er­ing from the pro­ce­dure.

The Cen­tral Wheat­belt Foot­ball League fix­ture the 22-year-old fa­ther was train­ing for, set to be against the Ben­cub­bin Demons, was aban­doned and de­clared a draw.

The fam­ily are still wait­ing on a coro­ner’s re­port to de­ter­mine the ex­act cause of death.

With the Rams elect­ing to have War­mdean’s beloved No.6 em­broi­dered on each guernsey for the re­main­der of the sea­son, the club se­cured a grand fi­nal berth against league lead­ers Ben­cub­bin on Au­gust 25.

Muk­in­budin en­tered the de­cid­ing term fac­ing a five-point deficit, with coach and shear­ing con­trac­tor Steve Pater­son ral­ly­ing the side to a 12.11 (83) to 8.11 (59) win for the late mid­fielder.

“It was a shock­ing death, but it re­ally bonded the play­ers,” Pater­son, who worked along­side War­mdean the day be­fore and the day he died, said.

“We re­ceived so much sup­port from the op­po­si­tion teams and the town it­self.

“Foot­ball and the Muk­in­budin foot­ball club were a big part of Marky’s life.”

War­mdean’s part­ner Jes­sica Ben­nell said Muk­in­budin’s premier­ship suc­cess would be trea­sured by the fam­ily, in­clud­ing his daugh­ter Meliah, 3, son Carter, 2, and step­son Tayn, 5.

“The premier­ship re­ally meant a lot to me and the kids be­cause the footy team meant a lot to him,” she said. “Ev­ery week af­ter he passed, the team played for him. The grand fi­nal re­ally got my heart rac­ing, but half­way through the last quar­ter I knew they weren’t go­ing to let go — it was some­thing spe­cial.”

The Rams’ ris­ing star award has been named af­ter War­mdean, with emerg­ing tal­ent Sonny King snar­ing the in­au­gu­ral hon­our.

Pic­ture: Mo­gens Jo­hansen

Jes­sica Ben­nell and her son, Carter, 2, hold a photo of her late part­ner Mark War­mdean.

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