K rock Football

Cats induct four into Hall of Fame

Tom Lonergan, Frank Costa and Mathew Stokes were inducted into the Geelong Hall of Fame on Thursday night. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

CLUB Patron Frank Costa, premiership duo Tom Lonergan and Mathew Stokes, and late 1800s great Joe McShane have become the latest inductees into the Geelong Hall of Fame.

The quartet was honoured on Thursday night at GMHBA Stadium, with the club also bestowing life membership on coach Chris Scott, while veteran journalist Mike Sheahan received the R.J. Hickey Award for services to football.

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HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES

TOM LONERGAN

One of the most popular players in recent history, Lonergan played 209 games and kicked 55 goals over 15 years with the Cats. He played both as a key forward and key defender but made his name down back. His 2011 grand final performance on Travis Cloke was a key element of the Cats’ win.

Lonergan joined Geelong at the 2002 National Draft but did not make his AFL debut until midway through 2005. In just his seventh game, Lonergan suffered a serious injury after going back with the flight of the ball in a marking contest. The incident saw Lonergan lose a kidney and remain in a coma as he battled for his life.

Courageously returning in 2007, he spent the year playing in the VFL, culminating in a best on ground display in the grand final where he booted six goals. Lonergan came back to AFL football in 2008 and held down a key forward spot that year. He kicked the first goal of the 2008 grand final against Hawthorn. Switching to defence in 2009, Lonergan was twice named in the All Australian squad.

MATHEW STOKES

Stokes played 189 games with the Cats, booting 203 goals. He has played more games with the club than any indigenous player and ranks 34th on the all-time goalkicking list.

He was a member of the 2007 and 2011 premierships, and in a selfless act ruled himself out of the Cats preliminary final team in 2009 due to injury. He was unable to reclaim his spot for the grand final but was lauded for his team-first approach.

Stokes kicked three first quarter goals in the 2007 preliminary final win over Collingwood in a five-point win, and in the 2011 grand final booted a critical second quarter goal when the Cats trailed the Magpies by 18 points. Stokes finished fourth in the 2013 best-and-fairest and represented Australia in the International Rules series against Ireland.

JOE McSHANE

McShane played 225 games with Geelong in a career that straddled both the VFA and VFL competitions. He was the first Geelong player to register 200 games and was the club’s record games holder between 1895-1902. McShane ranked as one of the best players of his era, winning the best & fairest in 1897, being named equal best player in the VFL in 1897, club captain in 1895, represented Victoria in 1891 and named best centreman in the VFA in 1895.

McShane joined the Cats as a 19-year-old in 1887 from South Melbourne and was one of six brothers that represented the club.

FRANK COSTA

Costa served as club president from early 1999 until the end of 2010. During that time the Cats went from a debt-ridden and struggling club to one of the most powerful in the AFL.

His tenure saw the club return to premiership glory in 2007 and 2009, make valuable contributions in the community, significant redevelopment of the stadium and establish a business model that underpinned operations with strong returns.

Since stepping away from the presidency, Costa has continued to serve the club as patron and chair of the stakeholder committee.

LIFE MEMBERSHIP

CHRIS SCOTT

Scott is currently in his ninth season as Cats’ coach. Over his tenure, Geelong has reshaped its playing list while continuing to challenge for premiership success. Scott oversaw the 2011 premiership triumph and has seen Geelong win 145 of 209 games since being appointed in October 2010.

The 69.9% winning percentage is the highest in the history of the league for any coach with over 100 games.  Over the same period, Geelong has been the second-highest scoring team in the AFL, continuing the tradition of attacking football.

Scott already ranks third on Geelong’s all-time games list and has the 2019 squad sitting atop the AFL ladder with three weeks of the home and away season remaining.

R.J. HICKEY AWARD

MIKE SHEAHAN

Awarded for services to football, Mike Sheahan has been recognised for his over 50 years of service to the game as a player, journalist and administrator.

Best known for his media work as chief football writer with the Herald Sun and The Age and his strong opinions on TV programs such as Talking Footy and On the Couch, Sheahan has been one of the most respected voices in the game for over 30 years. His work has been recognised by various industry awards.

Sheahan also pulled on the boots with Werribee in the then VFA (63 games) before playing in Tasmania with North Hobart and Old Hobartians. He was a premiership player with Old Hobartians in 1972. Sheahan was the then VFL’s media manager between 1985 and 1988.