Jack “Jacko” Whelan – In a league of his own
The word Legend or Champion sometimes gets thrown around easily in local football, but in the case of Jack Whelan, these should be his middle names.
This coming Saturday, Jacko will take to the field against Mooroolbark, in his beloved Saints jumper, a jumper I am sure he used to wear to bed as a kid, for his 150 th Senior Game and even more importantly Game 307 in the Saints colors, taking in his 131 Junior & 26 U/18 Games.
Luckily for our club, we don’t have the Father/Son rule in the EFL/EFNL as if we did, we would never have had the opportunity to witness this talented young man and the football pleasure he has given to our Saints faithful at both Junior & Senior level since 2001. For those that don’t know, Jack’s Dad, Alan is not only a 3-time B&F at Blackburn, he is also one of only 7 players to reach the 300 Games club at Blackburn (316 Games), earning him Life Membership, not only just at Blackburn but also with the Eastern Football League after reaching 300 Games. Trust me when I say the boys at Blacky have been in Al’s ear at all past players function down at Morton Park, to get his boys down! Sorry Blackburn, it isn’t going to happen.
The journey all started back in 1999 when Alan & Wendy brought their two boys, Jack & Sam down to The Warranwood Auskick clinic at Warranwood Primary School, which for those unaware was established by our Junior Club, now known as North Ringwood Auskick at the Junior oval.
Even as a 6 year old kid, you could tell that this little ball of muscle was going to cause carnage on the field, knocking kids over everywhere, will his motto that he still goes by today, “See ball, get ball”! In 2001, it was time for Jack to venture down to North Ringwood Reserve to play Under 8’s under the guidance of his first Coach, Mark Wilson before moving to the Under 9’s after a few games with Curtis
Nunn as his coach.
As was the case with Auskick, Jack brought his “See ball, get ball” style and it took awhile to convince Jack that he wasn’t allowed to tackle and to palm the ball off to a team mate after one bounce! Eventually Jack finished his Junior Football in 2009 in Under 16’s, with 131 Games and 40 Goals (U/12-16) to his name and while the ultimate success never eventuated at the Junior club, unbeknown to Jacko, this was about to come in tenfold over the next few years.
In the November of the same year, Jacko made his way to Quambee Reserve for his first Pre-Season with our U/18 (Colts) side under Dallas van Unen.
Jack’s first year of Colts was one to remember, winning the Division 3 Premiership, defeating Mitcham 9.14.68 to 1.2.8, our club U/18 B&F and topping it off at the League Presentation Night, taking out the Division 3, Under 18 B&F with 23 Votes.
Jack also made his Senior debut in 2010 after just one game in the Colts, with Brett Moyle naming him in the Seniors RD2 game against Doncaster.
In 2011 in Jack’s second year in the Colts, he played most of the season in the Seniors, playing 12 Games & kicking 8 goals, but also played 8 games in the Colts, to make sure he was qualified to play finals, finishing his time in the Colts with Back to Back Premierships, defeating Boronia 15.13.103 to 3.3.21. Jack was also awarded the “Blue Ribbon” medal by the umpires for Best on Ground. In 2012 Jack started his career as a Senior Player, despite already playing 13 games while still in Colts. Life at a senior club, seemed to be good for Jacko, first two years playing in Colts Premiership and then first year in Seniors, what do you know….. yep he won a Senior Premiership. There aren’t too many people that can say that their first 3 years would result in 3 Premierships! Jack played in all 20 games in 2012, kicking 32 Goals and racking up 8 BOG’s, including 3 Goals in the GF against Glen Waverley, defeating them 25.25.175 to 5.8.38, with this score firmly in the league record books still as the largest defeat ever!
To cap things off in 2012, Jack would eventually win our Club B&F, Goal kicking Award and the “Peter Purdy” Award for Most Determined. Then a few weeks later at the Eastern Football Presentation night, would walk out at nights end, being named in the “Division 3 Team of the Year” in the forward Pocket, as well as being named the “Div 3 & 4 Young Gun” of the year and then eventually finish the night, winning the – Division 3 “Edie Medal” Best & Fairest, with 21 Votes. To add to the night and the mantel piece in Al’s man cave, younger brother Sam, took out the “Division 3 Under 18 Best & Fairest” with 23 votes. Pretty safe to say, 2012 was a bloody good year for the Whelan family and pretty sure Al may have said, we are going to need a bigger pool room!
Only downside to the night, Alan & Wendy where holidaying in Italy at the time and missed the whole night apart from bits and pieces we managed to live stream from our table to their Tuscany Villa! In 2013 the club were promoted to Div 2 finishing 3 rd but unfortunately Jack only played a handful of games for various reasons…… and yep, Jack finally didn’t win a Premiership! But in 2014 Jack was BACK and the year ended up being a repeat for Jacko as it was in 2012. At years end, Jacko had played 18 of our 20 games, won his 4 th Premiership as well as winning his 3 rd EFL Best & Fairest, winning the Division 2 “Wright Medal” on 20 Votes, nearly doubling the hack in 2 nd place and being named in the “Division 2 Team of the Year” as Rover In 2015, Jack was bestowed with the honor of being named our first Division one Captain since 2002 a title he carried to the end of the 2019 season, when he handed the reins to Aaron Fenton another Young Gun at the time. As he had always done, Jack put the club first as he needed to put more time into he growing construction business and knew he couldn’t give the time require to both, to maintain the success.
While there are many people at the club that can give an insight into a player, there is none better than a coach and in Jacko’s case he had none better to get the most out of him, with that being his and our longest serving coach Brett Moyle, who was not just his coach for 5 years but also an on field teammate for most of it. There is no doubting that Brett’s tough love at the start, helped turn this young kid into the champion he is today. Thanks Moyley on the below words – Jacko was a brave and fierce competitor. As a coach and team mate, you always knew as I am sure his team mates still do, what he will give them every week.
Many may forget that in such a successful year in 2012, Jack won our club & comp B&F as well as our goal kicking.But I think the unrivalled toughness at stoppages to win the ball, tackle the opposition or just trap the ball in the area is his trademark, he was just a contested ball beast.
It is a pretty awesome thing to be known as.
Local Senior football is a wonderful thing, not only do players make life long friends with their own team mates but with their opposition also, who they may play against for their whole senior career. It goes without saying that there are players that are always spoken about by opposition clubs and players years after they have retired and what they did or achieved, Jacko is definitely one of those players. One thing he will be remembered as by his opponents is that he was just a bloody good guy! As Moyley mentioned, Jacko is just fierce. When he crosses that white line to enter the battle zone, he would just belt up (in footy lingo) his opponents to get the ball but once the final siren went and his crossed the white line again, he always catches up with his opponents to have a beer with them in the social room……. As I said, “Just a bloody good guy” While it has been tough going for the club over the last few years in the top division, Jack has still given his all for the club and with basically two years with no games due to Covid and missing basically the whole 2022 season due to injury, we as a club are hoping Jack is ready to tear up the midfield again as we strive to make finals for the first time in 9 years. During this period, Jack collected his second club
B&F, Represented the EFL twice and was named as Rover in the “2007 – 2016 North Ringwood, Team of the Decade”
SENIOR ACHEIVEMNETS: 2010 – PRESENT
2010 – EFL Division 3 U/18 Premiership
2010 – EFL Division 3 U/18 B&F
2011 – EFL Division 3 U/18 Premiership
2011 – EFL Division 3 U/18 “Blue Ribbon” Medal – BOG in Premiership
2012 – EFL Division 3 Senior Premiership
2012 – EFL Division 3 “Edie Medal” B&F (21 Votes)
2012 – EFL Division 3 Team of the Year” – Forward Pocket
2012 – EFL Division 3 & 4 “Young Gun” Award
2012 – NRFC Senior B&F
2012 – NRFC “Brite Sparx” Award – Leading Goal Kicker
2012 – NRFC “Peter Purdy” Award – Most Determined
2014 – EFL Division 2 Senior Premiership
2014 – EFL Division 2 “Wright Medal” B&F
2014 – EFL Division 2 “Team of the Year” – Rover
2015 – Named Senior Captain
2015 – Represented EFL – AFL Victorian Metro Championships
2016 – Named in the “2007-2016 North Ringwood Team of the Decade” as Rover
2016 – NRFC Senior B&F
2017 – Represented EFL – Work safe Community Championships
Games Played – 149 Senior / 26 Colts
Goals – 86 Senior / 32 Colts
Named in the Best – 42 Seniors / 7 Colts
While it is easy to focus on Jack as we lead up to Saturday’s big game, you cannot go past the fact what the Whelan family as a whole have contributed to the club, on and off the field.
Jack has been blessed to have played 61 games, side by side with younger brother Sam, including the 2014 Premiership.
Now to Mum and Dad and lets face it, Alan & Wendy are also pretty legendary around our club, along with a few other parents. Unless they are on an overseas adventure, trekking up to base camp or motor biking around Australia, Al & Wendy have only missed a handful of games but pretty sure they haven’t missed a club function and are always last to leave along with the Sharps, van Unen’s and Fenton’s. While everyone hopes that Jack still has years to go as he nears the 200 Game milestone, it is only Jack that knows what the future holds. One thing we do know for sure and that is Jacko will go down as one of the greatest to pull on the North Ringwood Jumper. In his 149 games so far, he has given our members so many memories, entertainment, thrills and excitement and will always be remembered by his peers from opposition clubs as one of the greatest & talented opponents to play on. We have spoken a lot about Jacko’s toughness and resilience on the field but off the field it is no different.
Back on March 9 th 2021, Jack took off from Lake Hume on his trusty Push Bike on his “Smiles for Miles” Campaign and rode 2,043 kms to raise money for two charities, very close to the hearts of the Whelan family, those being MS Australia and Outside the Locker Room. Jack average 145km a day riding through Victoria, finally coming home to a huge reception at one of his favorite drinking holes, The Grand in Warrandyte on he 23 rd of March. Thanks to the generosity of over 250 people and businesses, Jack raised over a staggering $120,000, surpassing his original target of $50,000…What a bloody amazing effort by an amazing young man Over the last decade if not for the likes of Airmaster and MTData Sponsorship , Jacko could well of been the Principal sponsor of the club if he had put all the money together that he has spent over the years on shorts and socks that he buys from Peter Graham each week. At a guess, Jacko would have brought at least 100 pairs of both the home and away shorts and maybe double that in socks. Let’s not forget about the jumpers also. As most of us know, Jacko has made the number 10 his number for his senior career but due to losing his jumper as many times as the short as and socks, he has only worn it a few times.
Below is a list of reason Jacko has given to Peter Graham 10 mins before the start of a game to why he
has no shorts, socks, or jumper!
- Left at the opposition club last week
- Left in my bag & are still wet and dirty
- Someone stole them
- Wore out on Saturday night and can’t find them
- Gave them to you to wash
- Just want a new pair
- Like to annoy you and make you grumpy
- At least I have my boots, not like Jayden!
On a personal note, I (Mark Jonas) have either been Jack’s Junior President or Senior VP & general committee since his first day in U/8’s. It has been a pleasure & privilege to watch a kid grow into a brilliant young man and be part of the whole journey so far. While there has been plenty of highlights, there is one that I will also remember. As Jack’s Junior President, he would come to me at our Coaches Award nights and ask me for the microphone. He would get up on stage and belt out a few lines of Frank Sinatra “I did it my way”, it was just brilliant. This led
me to refer to him as “Hollywood”, buts let’s face it, nothing has changed with this very shy individual!
Jack, from all of us at NRFC, You are just a true Champion & Clubman.
To all Sainter’s, get down to heights Reserve on Saturday to watch and support a legend of our club in his big game, Jack “Jacko” Whelan.
GO GET THEM CHAMP!!