PREMIERSHIP players, leaders and quiet achievers best describe Warrnambool’s Paul Looney and Dustin McCorkell.
The good mates today chalk up individual milestones with the Blues — Looney notches up his 250th senior game and McCorkell plays his 100th — in the clash with Port Fairy at Reid Oval.
While some players revel in the spotlight, Looney and McCorkell are happy in the background.
“I think we are both in the same boat,” McCorkell said of the attention that goes with a milestone.
“It’s good, but ...”
Looney couldn’t believe his luck when McCorkell suffered a hamstring injury during Hampden’s interleague loss last month.
“When I found out I would be sharing it with him I was so happy,” he said.
“As soon as he said ‘I’m going to miss this (extra) week’, I said ‘you beauty’.”
Looney, who made his senior debut with the Blues as an under 18 player against Mortlake at D.C. Farran Oval in 1995, said he was pleased to reach the milestone but he didn’t want any fanfare.
“I think sometimes it means more to a lot of other people but it’s one thing I want to get over and done with.”
The 34-year-old becomes just the fifth Blues player to reach the 250-game mark.
“I got there a bit quicker than I thought,” Looney said.
“I thought it might take until later in the year. I’ve missed a few games with the hamstrings in the last couple of years and touch wood I haven’t had any problems this year. I thought 11 games, I might get there later in the year.”
Looney said when he started his career at the club he never thought he would play so many games. The following year he headed off to Melbourne for university but returned home to play. In 1997 he started the season with Donvale but found his way back to the Blues by the end of the year before joining Maribynong Park in 1998.
He moved back to Warrnambool for the 1999 season and except for travelling overseas in 2004, has played with the Blues every year.
He said the year off while travelling had prolonged his career.
“I probably would have broken down if I had kept playing,” he said.
“The year off did me good, allowed my body to re-charge.”
Looney has earned a reputation as a big-game player, highlighted by his match-winning effort which won him the Ron Hoy Medal in the Blues’ 2002 grand final victory over Terang Mortlake.
He has tasted premiership success three times, 2001, ’02 and 2010 and has hopes of another in what could be his final year.
Looney said he was enjoying playing in defence.
“It makes it easier when the team is going well. When you are sitting on top it is a bit different, the coach is happy and it just flows. It’s an enjoyable year, that’s why you play.”
He said he was excited his captain was reaching his milestone, following in the footsteps of some great Blues.
McCorkell, 31, joins his father Peter and grandfather Ron as a life member of the club, having reached the ton.
“I grew up at the footy club but moved away when I was in high school and I didn’t get to play for Warrnambool until I was 26,” McCorkell said.
“It’s great to be back there now, around good people and enjoying their company.”
Before playing with the Blues, he played at Stawell, the North Ballarat Rebels at under 18 level and then four years with North Ballarat in the VFL, followed by a season with Broadbeach in the QAFL and two years with Geelong West-St Peters.
He made his debut with the Blues in round one 2006 but suffered a serious knee injury which required reconstructive surgery, ending his year.
He was captain-coach in 2007 and took the Blues to the grand final and was again at the helm in 2008. He has been captain for the past four years.
In a distinguised career which has included two club best and fairests with the Blues, he has only tasted one premiership success — 2010, alongside Looney.
“I played in a VFL grand final when I was 19 and didn’t play in another grand final until I was at Warrnambool.
“The last few years, although we have won just one flag, just being a chance throughout the finals is what you play footy for. You really aspire to play finals footy and we’ve been lucky enough to make four grand finals. Hopefully we’ll be thereabouts again.”
Both want little fuss tonight, just a few drinks with their teammates. No fanfare.