K rock Football

Panther great reaches 250

Shane Lymer will play game 250 for Bell Post Hill against Geelong West. (krockfootball.com.au Image/Al Packer)

BELL Post Hill great Shane Lymer remains unsure whether his glittering career will extend into 2019 as he prepares for game 250.

The 32-year-old, who will reach the milestone in Saturday’s clash with finals aspirant Geelong West at West Oval, has revealed he is weighing up his playing future.

“I’ve definitely counted out 300 (games),” Lymer said. “The body’s holding up alright – I try and go to the gym and get a bit of extra running in because I’m not as quick as a lot of the players I play on.

“But, mentally, I’m finding it harder and harder to get up for Tuesday night training in the middle of winter, then Thursday, and then butter up Saturday, sore Sunday and Monday, and then get to Tuesday again.

“After 250 games it takes its toll, and I think my wife is quietly hoping that this might be it.

“We’ll just wait-and-see.”

Lymer has been a key plank in a golden era for Panthers as one of only two players (Adrian Fantella is the other) to have appeared in all seven premierships the club has won.

He says the appointment of Brent Grgic as coach after the club had lost consecutive grand finals to Thomson and East Geelong was the catalyst for sustained success at Myers Reserve.

“Before ‘Grg’ turned up we were a good side, with a lot of young guys and a lot of very good senior players,” Lymer, a regular interleague representative, said.

“But we just needed that something extra to bring to the club.

“We played finals under ‘Boofa’ (Nathan Lewis) and lost two (grand finals) under Rob May.

“’Grg’ was playing then and took over as coach, and we’d had a bit of a taste.

“Then because he’d come from a higher level, us young guys just soaked in every word he said and really bought in.

“We had a lot of good juniors coming through and added a few players that he knew as well.

“When we won the first one, it was the monkey off the back, and it grew from there.

“The hunger just grows once you win one.”

Grgic says Lymer was one of the key drivers of the culture he instilled at the club.

“Probably the biggest impact he had on the group from day one of my coaching was we identified what the key was going to be and we thought it was going to be fitness and strength,” the five-time premiership mentor said.

“He was one of the real leaders in that along with a handful of others. He did the 2-3 sessions (a week) at Bell Post Hill, but also did 2-3 sessions outside the club.

“He was, while I was there, probably the best runner at the club and really pushed that with a couple of other guys.

“It really changed the theory of winning games on talent rather than on fitness.”

It’s no surprise after the near-misses in 2008-09 the victory over Werribee Centrals in 2010 to deliver the first premiership to the Panthers ranks as Lymer’s favourite.

“If we’d lost another one, then it might have been a bit of a hoodoo,” he said.

“But the game was basically over at half time

Then at three-quarter time, we were up by 70 points, so the last quarter was … it’s hard to explain… euphoric.

“They’re all special, but that one definitely sticks in my mind.”

Bell Post Hill will feature in a 13th consecutive finals series, but some have been quick to write-off the Panthers’ chances of challenging Inverleigh and Thomson for this year’s title.

However, Lymer is confident they can match it with the Hawks and Tigers as they chase an eighth flag in nine seasons.

“We’ve got a lot of older, experienced heads in Tim Barton, Beau McNamara, Cam Addie, Caleb Bacely, (Adrian) Fantella,” he said.

“There’s a lot of good players there still who know how to get it done when it matters.

“I think a lot of the guys have been looking towards this stage of the year to really ramp it up.

“We’ve got a consistent side together at the moment, and we should build towards another competitive finals series.”


Twitter: @tom_king79

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