TOM LONERGAN ELEVATED TO GEELONG SENIOR LIST
By Ben Jensen Geelongs Tom Lonergan, Norm Goss Medallist for best on ground in the VFL Grand Final, has been rewarded with reinstatement onto the AFL senior list. Effectively replacing Henry Playfair, Lonergan memorably nearly lost his life in the round 21 match against Melbourne last season. Rookie listed this season, Tom made his comeback in the VFL against Tasmania in round 10. Geelong Football Club football boss Neil Balme broke the news to Lonergan last month. "It is a great story and we're really pleased that we can offer him the opportunity to take that next step on the journey", Balme said.
YOUR SAY: LONERGAN ELEVATED TO GEELONG SENIOR LIST CATTERY FORUMS
In the VFL Premiership, Tom Lonergan was named best on ground after breaking the game wide open in the third term with five goals. Lonergan, who kicked his sixth early in the final quarter emotionally embraced his family on the boundary line at the end of the game, declaring this the best day of his life.
Lonergan's five goals, plus two others, made for a seven goal to nil third term, giving the Cats a three quarter time lead of sixty-one points. The final term was a Geelong procession, outscoring Coburg five goals five to three goals four. The crowd flooded onto the field following the final siren, and sung 'We are Geelong' along with the players, lead by James Byrne and Tom Lonergan after Byrne and Coach Leigh Tudor accepted the Premiership Cup on the victory dais.
In round 21 2006, Lonergan, then 22, was playing in his seventh AFL game, and appeared to have found his niche as a utility, mainly playing in the backline. Backing back into a pack to make a gallant mark attempt in spite of the approaching Melbourne forward Brad Miller and Geelong defender Matt Egan, something seen half a dozen times a match, Lonergan was struck in the back and immediately fell to the ground. Spectators nearby immediately sensed danger, declaring he'd have broken ribs, but nobody foresaw the life threatening events of that evening.
Lonergan made his own way off the ground, into the changerooms. Rushed to hospital, he was initially diagnosed with a lacerated kidney. However during the night his blood pressure suddenly dropped and pulse rose, a sign of a hemorrhage somewhere in the body. Doctors made the correct decision to remove his right kidney, and with no time to spare went 'front in' (ie. Lonergan was on his back).
Tom remained in a medically induced coma for nearly a week following the game, and spent over a fortnight in hospital. He experienced another couple downturns in his condition along the way, but by November had made a full recovery, to the extent he could result some light training.
Medical Director with Kidney Health Australia, Dr Tim Mathew said at the time Lonergan would take a risk if he resumed his football career. "I'm not going to say he should end his career or whether he should play on, but he must realise the ramifications if his kidney is damaged. It's something he'll have to weigh up, but there are risks involved if he suffers another injury to the kidney region."
He may only have one kidney, but Tom sure isn't small hearted. Just weeks following his life-changing experience, Tom became an ambassador of Zaidee's Rainbow Foundation, a foundation that aims to raise awareness of tissue and organ donation. Zaidee Turner tragically died aged just 7 years old. As a registered organ donor, Zaidee was able to help save the life of others. Her parents, Kim and Allan Turner, developed the idea of rainbow bootlaces, which most AFL fans would now be aware of.