By David Nagel
Great sporting clubs are built around great people and Phillip Island struck gold in 2008 when Don Macklin walked through its doors and offered to volunteer.
Macklin, or “Donny” as most people know him, has been a familiar face ever since.
After 34 years at the South Croydon Football Club, as a player, treasurer, and general volunteer, the now 77-year-old was looking to stay involved in local footy when he moved to the Island.
“I just lived in the area, never played here or knew anyone that played here, I just love local footy and know how hard it is to get people to do stuff,” Donny said.
“When I did come down, I asked if there was anything I could do, and I told them I did the goal umpiring for the seconds at South Croydon
“The club already had a goal umpire for the seconds, but the under 18s needed one, and that’s how it all began.”
Donny has had a great connection with the under 18’s ever since, being goal umpire until Covid struck, and has also had stints as team manager and his current role as assistant team manager.
Donny has a short break during the reserves game these days…and then time-keeps for the seniors.
“They’re just jobs that the team manager doesn’t have to worry about, and I just do anything they want me to do,” Donny said.
“I’m also a sparky, so I do a few jobs around the place in that capacity as well.”
Donny’s days as a goal umpire have certainly had their moments, with two days in particular coming to mind.
“One day at Dalyston I was trying to hide behind the padding on the goal post, the rain and the sleet was so strong and so cold it almost knocked me off my feet,” Donny recalls.
“Another day, I got drenched, it poured down relentlessly, it was cold, and I got changed into my warm dry clothes after the under 18s.
“I was taking everything back to my car and they told me the goal umpire for the ones hasn’t showed up…so I did that as well…and got drenched again.”
Donny said there was one key reason why he lobs up on a weekly basis.
“I just love the club,” he said.
“If I can do something for the club, that’s what I get out of it.
“Clubs always need someone to do something as volunteers, because you don’t get paid and some people just don’t want to do anything.
“I’m not one to sit in my car and watch…I just love my footy too much and get great satisfaction out of helping out where I can.”
Phillip Island has had great on-field success in recent seasons, but Donny insists those days are not the highpoint.
“Meeting people is the highlight,” Donny said proudly.
“Of course, winning premierships is great, and watching the kids come through the under 18s to play senior football is very satisfying, but meeting great people at such a great club is what it’s all about for me.
“They don’t know my second name…they all just call me Donny.”
And he has one a small piece of advice for those thinking about getting involved.
“Go for it, because it’s satisfying, it’s fantastic, just being involved and meeting the nice people at the club makes it all worthwhile,” he said.
“Volunteers are not in it for themselves, they’re altruistic people who care about others…and that’s what we’ve got here at Phillip Island.”