Community stands behind Ion fight

Kooweerup and Dalyston players came together as one in the middle of the Kooweerup Recreation Reserve in emotional scenes on Saturday morning. Picture: SUPPLIED

By Russell Bennett

The generosity of the human spirit and the power of community have been on display in full force in recent days, as more than $30,000 has been raised so far for a beloved Dalyston Football Netball Club family rocked by tragedy on the weekend.

The tightknit club was left heartbroken by an accident on Saturday morning which claimed the life of one of its players, and left another with serious injuries in hospital.

The players – brothers Lucas (18) and Campbell (16) Ion – were on their way to Kooweerup to play against the Demons in the West Gippsland Football Netball Competition.

Police are investigating after the car the two brothers were in collided with a truck in Anderson, near Phillip Island.

According to a Victoria Police statement, “It appears the driver of a utility travelling north on the Bass Highway lost control and veered across the road before colliding with a south bound truck about 7.40am.

“The passenger of the Ford utility, a 16-year-old Wonthaggi boy, died at the scene.

“The driver of the utility, an 18-year-old Wonthaggi man, was airlifted to hospital with serious injuries.

“The driver of the truck sustained minor injuries and was transported to hospital.”

The under-16 game at Kooweerup went ahead on Saturday, with all games from the under-18s onwards cancelled.

Dalyston president Andy Thomas told the Gazette that most of the club’s players were too overcome with grief to play out the day.

But he was quick to add that the club has since received “an outpouring of support from the West Gippsland football and netball community”.

“Kooweerup gave us their clubrooms for a few hours, and even some food to take back with us when we left,” he said.

“They were amazing.”

Thomas said the two boys involved are from “a wonderful family” with a long association with the club.

“They’ve been with us since the under-10s and are great supporters of our club.

“Anything we can do to help the family, and to help our players and supporters we’ll do.

“There’s been an outpouring of grief and we just want to help our people.”

The Gazette understands that there is a connection between the family, and the Demons – in another cruel twist of fate. The Ion boys are nephews of Gavin Bindley, the Demons’ under-18s coach, and his son Nick plays at Kooweerup.

”Dalyston wanted to play in the 16s,” Deon Perry from the Kooweerup Football Club explained.

”The Dalyston boys played really well but up to three-quarter time they hadn’t scored so we gave them four players for the last quarter and they played 22 on 18 to which they scored three goals.

”Everyone cheered for them at the end of the game, and both our 16s and 18s gave them a guard of honour and clapped them off the ground.
“It was truly an amazing effort by Dalyston to play, and after the game you could see the news had really hit them.”

In the aftermath of the tragic accident, the Dalyston Football Netball Club posted a message on its Facebook page at around noon on Sunday that read: “A dark cloud has settled over our club today as we try to come to terms with the passing of Campbell and the serious injuries to Lucas. Our hearts are bleeding for the extended families of the boys and we will give our love and support to them in this tragic time. We would like to thank the Kooweerup FNC for their support of our club yesterday and the greater West Gippsland football community for all the messages and wishes. In tragic times like this we need to get around one another and help everyone through and there is no better place than the football netball community to help. Our club will shed tears and bleed but in time we will gather strength from all this.”

Since then more than $30,000 has been raised in a matter of hours via a GoFundMe page set up to support the Ion family in its hour of need. At one point, the target was $5000 – but the generosity of the human spirit knows no bounds, particularly in times of such tragedy, and the amount raised continues to climb.

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