Ipswich footy legend proud to present medal at gala game
AS a proud Indigenous sportsman Dean Daylight couldn't stop smiling.
Although his Indigenous All Stars team was beaten 36-12 by the Ipswich All Stars, Daylight had every reason to be content.
The former Ipswich Jets, Swifts and Brothers playmaker and coach was surrounded by many friends and football fans after a wonderful occasion at the North Ipswich Reserve.
It was the inaugural match between two gallant sides featuring past and present players with strong Ipswich regional ties.
Having dealt with his own challenge battling lymphoma in the past, Daylight looked fit and happy.
He helped celebrate what the specially organised pre-season encounter represented.
"The game was played in the right spirit and both teams put on a really good show,'' Daylight said.
"Unfortunately for our Indigenous boys, we didn't get over the line but it's a great concept.''
Daylight presented a medal in his honour to the best Indigenous player on the field.
That was utility player Kyle Blackman.
"He's a great young fella and I know his family from around Ipswich,'' Daylight said.
"His efforts in the first half sort of got him to where he was. When the Indigenous boys were under the pump, his defence was really, really good and he had some really good strong carriage.
"In the second half, he topped it off with that length of the field try.''
Daylight said Blackman just edged out Wes Conlon for the inaugural medal.
"Wes went out there and done a great job out there and I was impressed by a number of the boys out there tonight,'' the footy great said.
Blackman was clearly overjoyed to be recognised in an Indigenous environment that means so much to the Norths footballer.
"I'm just really thankful to receive the award,'' he said, as son Levi grabbed hold of the medal around his neck.
"It was a hard game, not much physical training so to receive that was an honour to get it.''
Blackman, 26, said the match was fought out in a terrific spirit.
"It was played with a lot of pride from both sides, especially the Indigenous side playing for our people and the community,'' he said.
"For a game like that for the start of the year was really good and I'm proud.''
If it becomes an annual event as he hopes, the Dean Daylight Medal winner has one request.
"It would be good to have maybe bit more longer training sessions instead of one before the game,'' Blackman said.
"If they did it every year, I think it will just get bigger and bigger each year.''
Blackman previously played for the Tigers in last year's Volunteers Cup grand final, being a regular tryscorer.
"It was definitely puffed. I've been doing nothing since then (the Volunteers Cup),'' he said.
"My legs definitely felt it but it was really good.''
Like other players involved in the game, second rower/centre Blackman welcomed the opportunity to share in a special night.
"There's a lot of talent in Indigenous players, not just Aboriginal . . . so to bring it together in a match like that is really good,'' he said.
"I just love playing for my people.''
After the match was played in front of the largest crowd at the Reserve in some time, Daylight mingled with former clubmates and reminisced about old times.
It was more than 10 years since he played where he was recognised as one of Ipswich's best footballers.
Daylight was with the Jets for two seasons in the late 1990s after starting as a Bluebird with Swifts and enjoying a coaching stint with Brothers.
"I sort of just stepped away from coaching and what have you in the last two years so just winding down,'' he said.
After being invited to present a medal in his honour, Daylight conceded he was unsure at first.
However, he knew how much the game meant to so many people.
"I suppose I represent a whole range of families,'' he said.
They include his father and his brothers who played in the 1970s.
The Thompson, Sandy and Pickering families are among those with strong Ipswich regional rugby league ties.
"It's a whole heap of Aboriginal families that I used to grow up with and watch as a young child so I decided to take on the medal and represent those families,'' he said.
Daylight was also pleased to see so many Jets past and present players involved in the Indigenous game.
"There's a long history there and as you see out here tonight, there's a Cherbourg connection,'' he said.
He was delighted with the response to the game.
"It's a good crowd out here, a good concept,'' he said.
"I look forward to it in many years to come.''
Photos from the game are available at BruceClayton.com.au