TIMBOON means as much to Dean Whitehead as the veteran utility means to its senior football side.
The 31-year-old father-of-two has become somewhat of a Mr Fix It for Timboon Demons during a rebuilding season under coach Brendan Hickey.
But for all his importance providing leadership and direction to his younger teammates, Whitehead holds the community in just as high regard.
He grew up in the area, attended Timboon P-12 School and played juniors and seniors with Heytesbury in its pre-merger days.
And he’s still there more than a decade on. Only now he’s a physical education teacher at the school and stalwart of the now-merged entity.
“I’ve got all my family here too, my parents are on a dairy farm up the road. It’s where I grew up, it’s home,” Whitehead said.
The loyal stalwart plays his 200th club match today when the Demons host Panmure as part of Warrnambool and District league round 14 action.
His 199-game tally includes 100 in the seniors and 99 in the reserves. Add in his junior matches and the tally is close to 300.
“I’ve enjoyed it the whole time. I have had some setbacks, I’ve broken a few fingers at bad times and had hamstring trouble,” he said.
“Injuries have put downers on it a little bit but football is a great game and a great challenge, it’s something I love doing.
“I’ve always said I’ll play as long as I can so long as my family lets me and my body lets me.”
Whitehead made his Heytesbury senior debut in 2000 and played in a premiership in 2002 — the last season of the Heytesbury-Mount Noorat league.
He had no hesitations playing on with the merged entity but is yet to taste flag glory a second time. He was in the twos when the seniors triumphed in 2008.
“The last two years I’ve pretty much thought I was going to be playing reserves,” he said.
“But I got the opportunity again to play seniors, in that leadership-type role out on the ground. It’s been good.
“We are playing a lot of the younger ones and we’ve got a lot of that 24, 25-year-old age group that are coming along well.
“With them and the younger kids over the next few years we should be right.”
Whitehead said he was unsure if he would play on in 2015.
He said nursing an injury-prone body and being a father to Stella, 2, and Thea, 10 weeks, had given him new perspective when it came to football.
“It’s hard to answer that question (of whether to play on). At this stage, probably not,” he said.
“I’ve got a few extra bones floating in my elbow, I’ve been playing the season with those. I’ll get them looked at after the season, it depends on how that goes.”