TERANG triple premiership player Wayne Reicha is Hampden Football Netball League’s first legend.
Reicha, 54, was elevated to the prestigious honour at a hall of fame function last night.
Reicha joined league administrator Bernie Dowling, Mortlake’s Jim Bell, Cobden’s Hugh Worrall, Port Fairy’s Kevin Leske and South Warrnambool’s Ron Hoy in the Hampden league’s first hall of fame intake.
The humble 342-game utility said he was overwhelmed with his legend status.
“At the moment I am sort of feeling a little bit embarrassed and apprehensive because it’s such a big honour,” Reicha said.
“I was very lucky and blessed to play with so many other great champions from other clubs and my club and to be out ahead of those guys is very daunting, in a sense.”
Reicha was born deaf and also struggled to see through his right eye, something he kept quiet, but he didn’t let his disabilities deter him.
“(I might be) the people’s champion through the disabilities I had to overcome and what I achieved and how I played,” he said.
“I gained their respect and admiration in that area.”
Reicha said his speed and peripheral vision helped him sustain a career which spanned almost 20 seasons.
The former HFNL vice-president played without his hearing aid.
“I played in every position bar the ruck,” he said.
Reicha, who played in 50 senior finals, said hearing aids had adapted over the years.
“Once I retired I got the best one,” he said.
“I heard more new sounds when I was 39.”
Reicha said people took sounds, like driving a car and wind rushing past, “for granted”.
Bell, 70, said being inducted into the league’s hall of fame was “an enormous honour”.
“When you get to my age, you don’t expect any more football awards,” he said.
“It is a great thing the Hampden league has introduced.
“It lives in history.”
Bell was league president for five seasons in the 1990s.
The 1966 Maskell medallist said his biggest imprint was the introduction of North Warrnambool Eagles in 1997.
Bell said it took “courage” for Northern Districts to join the major league.
“Slowly but surely they’re making their mark,” he said.
“They’re only a step away from the ultimate prize.”
Worrall, 64, said it was an honour to be mentioned in the same breath as the other hall of fame inductees.
“It’s an extreme honour. I am over the moon,” he said.
The Cobden great, who is a three-time Maskell medallist, still remains involved in football and was appointed central umpire for this weekend’s reserves grand final.
“If you add up the ages of the three boundary umpires, they don’t reach me,” Worrall said.
Hoy, 81, said one of his fondest football memories stemmed back to his childhood when he would play kick-to-kick with Colin Watson.
Watson played for St Kilda and won a Brownlow Medal.
“He used to live in our street and he’d always have time to have a kick with me,” Hoy said.
“I was only 10 or 12 years old and that inspired me to go on and play football.”
Hoy, a three-time Maskell medallist, said making the hall of fame was “a real honour”.
Port Fairy’s Kevin Leske, who won the 1975 Maskell Medal, said making the hall of fame was “a complete surprise”.
“I never played in any senior premierships, so it’s just another personal thing, a wonderful honour,” he said.
Leske, 70, said he was indebted to the Seagulls and had also enjoyed his umpiring career, which has spanned more than 27 years.
Bernie Dowling was a long-time league administator.
Dowling, 86, said he was league secretary for 14 years.
He said making the hall of fame “meant a lot”.
“I have always been interested in the secretarian-type jobs,” Dowling said.
“It’s been nearly 70 years since I did my first secretary job.”