CAMPERDOWN’S David "Dabba" Lane may have been short in stature but he made those who knew him walk much taller.
On the footy field he was known for his courage and tenacity and was once considered the best rover in the Hampden league.
In life he was described as honest and reliable and one of the most respected “little gentlemen” in Camperdown.
His footy career achievements speak for themselves: in 1968 he won the Hampden Football League Maskell Cup, he took out the Camperdown club senior best and fairest in 1964, 1966 and 1968 and was one of only 13 men to play 200 senior games for Camperdown.
From 1970 to 1971 he played for Timboon and Kolora from 1974 to 1976 winning premierships in 1975 and 1976.
Throughout his career he polled 135 Maskell votes, second only to Kevin Leske from Port Fairy.
Kolora-Noorat Football Netball Club president Jack Kenna remembers a quick and courageous player.
“His name was David, he must have been David in the Bible. He was the little guy who made an impact,” he said.
Dabba died suddenly on October 27. He was 75 years old.
His good friend Ross Fleming said for his size he was an extremely courageous player.
“No matter how big or small the other guy was, he had no fear as a footballer,” he said.
Mr Fleming said Dabba was a man of routine who never ventured far from Camperdown and would visit his home every day at 1pm.
He continued to ride about 70km each day and would often be seen in the avenue at 7am in Camperdown doing his stretches.
“He’d be doing his stretches and handstands and pushing up against trees,” he said.
“He never lost sight of the clocktower and it’s ironic he passed away only a dropkick away from our landmark, the clocktower.”
Mr Fleming’s son-in-law Clinton Baulch was 15 and vice-captain of St Pat’s when Dabba coached the side to a premiership.
“He was 5ft 1 inch tall but he made everyone walk a little taller and stronger,” he said.
“At age 75, ten days ago, he learnt to barefoot water ski and put men my age to shame.
“Whatever he did, sport wise, he was extremely good at it.
“He hadn’t been out of Camperdown to Warrnambool in 22 years. He believed everything you needed, you could get in Camperdown.”
Mr Baulch said Dabba had developed an amazing relationship with his 10-year-old son.
“They had a record of 350 kicks and marks and no drops and they’d try every day to beat it,” he said.
“Everyone who knew him would have thought they were his favourite. He was an icon of Camperdown.”
Dabba’s great-niece Emily Stephens said routine was everything for Dabba and even influenced his diet.
She said each week he’d buy one piece of rump steak with the fat trimmed off, six sausages, six rissoles, six rashers of bacon and biscuits and cheese for his lunch.
“He’d have 10 pairs of runners at the door and another 10 pairs inside,” she said.
Ms Stephens said he was a humble man who would have been amazed to know more than 250 people attended his graveside funeral this week.
“He was the most special man,” she said.
“He never judged anyone. He tried to embrace all walks of life.
“Camperdown will never be the same.”