The smell of hot chips and tomato sauce, the siren’s sound blaring across the ground, beer cans frothing at the mouth, pie mince spilling down the front of shirts, this is pub league football.

The clouds parted just around the sun, lighting up Gormandale Recreation Reserve like a stage light when Heyfield and Gormandale met on Saturday afternoon for Round 6 of the North Gippsland Football-Netball League.

Collingwood legend Dane Swan in action for Gormandale at the weekend. Swan suited up for the Tigers as they took on Heyfield, a team coached by Swan’s Collingwood premiership teammate Leigh Brown. Photos: Zoe Askew

Donning number 34 for the Tigers was Collingwood premiership player, Brownlow medallist, and three-time Copeland Trophy winner, Dane Swan.

With a coveted AFL star in their midst, Gormandale started strong, scoring an early goal, with the pressure of the occasion unsettling Heyfield for the opening 10 minutes, after which they steadied. The Kangaroos proved too classy in the finish, defeating the Tigers 15.17 (107) to 6.18 (54).

The match’s top goal scorer, Mitchell Bennett, kicked three goals in a row for the Kangaroos in the first quarter, totalling seven by the end of the game.

A goal from Gormandale’s Jai Foulkes closed the gap before the break, with the Kangaroos leading the Tigers 4.5 (29) to 3.5 (23) at the end of the first quarter.

Gormandale had an early chance for a goal in the opening minutes of the second term with a brilliant run from Adam Tipungwuti, cousin of Essendon excitement machine Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, but a tenacious Heyfield defence squandered efforts, with the Tigers snagging their first goal of the quarter in the dying minutes.

Tipungwuti joined Swan in the one-off game for the Tigers at the weekend, one of many players to don the yellow and black guernsey as part of a program Gormandlae have established with Tiwi Islands bringing a couple of players over every year.

Heyfield led Gormandale 7.10 (52) to 4.10 (34) ahead of the third quarter.

The Kangaroos kicked the opening goal of the third quarter, furthering their lead.

A big hit saw the Tigers lose their young ruckman 10 minutes into the third quarter, but despite the loss and the Kangaroos’ progressively furthering lead, Gormandale’s determination was unwavering.

A long kick from Tristan Salerno to Tipungwuti inside the 50 saw the Tigers score their only goal for the quarter.

Creeping forward from his defensive position, the crowd at Gormandale Recreation Reserve erupted when Swan marked the ball just outside the 50.

Lining himself up, the Collingwood premiership player sent the ball toward the goal, but his glory days proved well behind him.

“I’m certainly not what I was,” Swan said post-match.

Heyfield led Gormandale 12.13 (85) to 5.14 (44) at three quarter time.

Heyfield kicked the opening goal of the final quarter, with the Kangaroos adding two more goals to their score before the game’s end.

Gormandale’s Jake Rust kicked the Tigers’ first and only goal of the fourth quarter in the dying minutes.

While the hosts showed plenty of heart, stepping up with an AFL legend in their midst, they were no match against a strong Heyfield fit.

It wasn’t all bad for Gormandale, with Swan, who was runner-up in the 2017 edition of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, admitting he expected them to lose by a larger margin after the game.

“To be honest, I looked at their scores during the week, and I figured we were in for about 150 drumming, we were actually in front, so I was more impressed than I thought they would be,” he said.

“But they were good, they are obviously very young, and I understand when I come to these sides that it’s not usually the best sides, but nah, they were good, good bunch of kids, they had a crack, I didn’t actually do a lot, they sort of got that score without me.

“I enjoyed it; it was a nice day for it actually; it was a perfect day for footy, really.

“It was good fun; hopefully, we can go in and have a couple of beers now and have a bit more fun.”

Dane Swan kicks the ball just outside the 50.
Swan takes a crack at goal just outside the 50. Photos: Zoe Askew

A beer may have been just what the doctor ordered for the 39-year-old after having played in Western Australia the previous weekend.

“I played last week, so this game is my sixth game this year, so I’m hanging on, I’m hanging on by a thread,” Swan said.

“I’m just getting there; I’m alright. I’m certainly not what I was, I’ve got about five or six sessions of effort in me before the handbrake comes up, and I need a rest, but I enjoy it.

“I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t; otherwise, I’d just be sitting on the couch now havin’ a bet on the horses and the footy, so it’s nice to come out and see different parts of the country which I never would because playing footy and that cos as soon as I’d have holidays I’d go overseas.

“I’d never heard of Gormandale until I was told I was playing here, so it’s nice to come and see different parts of Australia and meet country people who are obviously all really good people, pretty laid back, relaxed, very [much] like myself, who love to have a beer and don’t take themselves too seriously, so it’s nice to get out of the city for a little bit and have a couple beers with some people who are very relaxed and chilled and like to have a good time.”