by Peter Ryan, The Age, June 8, 2018 12:46pm
first published at
Emerging Cats‘ forward Lachie Fogarty’s background is so Victorian it only seems right that he ended up being drafted by Geelong, just down the highway from the Spotswood Football Club in Melbourne’s west where he began playing footy.
Most pundits had him heading to Brisbane before the draft but Geelong pounced on him when he was still available with pick 22, ensuring he stayed close to the unique mix of family, friendships, football, school and politics that has made him one of those players that is both great to coach, and tough.
Spotswood footy club was the central focus of his life growing up, with his dad Terry, a former president of the club, team-of-the-century player and life member.
His grandfather Don Smith, on his mum Tracey’s side, was a former Spotswood player, too, and his older brothers Matthew and Michael played good footy there with Michael graduating to play in Footscray’s 2014 VFL premiership team.
“Pretty much my whole weekend was down at Spotswood Football Club,” Fogarty told Fairfax Media.
“I love the club, loved going into the rooms afterwards and chatting to the senior boys. They were good days.”
Spotswood was also the suburb where the young Cats’ legendary grandfather Bill Fogarty died in 2001, aged 79, after living a life of community service in the west, his sporting prowess swimming, his career one of principle.
Bill rose from a navy and union background to become mayor of Footscray then the Member for Sunshine in the Victorian Parliament between 1973-1988, was shadow minister for agriculture and rural affairs before rising to be deputy speaker of the house during the Cain years.
Winning respect on both side of politics for both speaking his mind and having fun, the former premier Steve Bracks, a mad Geelong supporter, paid tribute to Fogarty in Parliament in 2001.
“Known locally as a champion of the underdog and a friend of the worker, his tireless efforts in the electorate bought him praise from many quarters.”
Now the grandson is the one tirelessly attempting to make it in elite sport, acutely aware of how hard he will have to work to make the grade.
Through sport the Fogarty clan became friends with the family of Giants skipper Callan Ward and the Jarrys too, their 26-year-old daughter Rachel representing Australia in basketball at the past two Olympics.
“Our parents were all really good friends with each other. I had a little bit to do with Callan, but not so much recently,” Fogarty said.
It did not stop Fogarty loving the way the player they call ”Cement head” played, admiring Ward, while finding time for former Saint Lenny Hayes and his current skipper Joel Selwood to become his favourite players.
Those influences are obvious in the way Fogarty plays now, finding a spot as a high half-forward in a Geelong team stacked with midfield talent and winning respect among his coaches for his competitiveness.
Having played mainly as a midfielder he is still becoming familiar with a role that requires about 14 kilometres running a game as well as learning to play against men.
“I found in my junior days I could sort of get away with pushing people around but playing against guys that have had four or five pre-seasons who are a lot stronger than me means I have to work out different ways to get around them,” Fogarty said.
“For me, it’s about trying to use my agility and speed and not relying too much on strength.”
He was no slouch at that game either, good enough to represent Vic Metro as a junior in both sports.
“I feel like I have good vision, especially when I am in space with my handballing and can get teammates into good position,” Fogarty said.
“It has also helped me read the play as when you are travelling up the court you have to look up and dribble.”
However not even a life spent around football prepared Fogarty for his debut against Melbourne in round one at the MCG a week before he turned 19 on April Fool’s day.
An hour before the bounce wily veteran Harry Taylor reminded Fogarty it was OK to sit down and relax.
“I just kept walking around because I didn’t really know what to do with myself,” Fogarty said.
“I’m not used to having that much time before a game.”
Now, having overcome a niggling groin that forced him to miss rounds nine and 10, Fogarty is back at the Cattery to play his ninth game having just signed a contract extension tying him to Geelong until 2021.
His competitiveness has impressed his coaches, with his focus narrowed to applying pressure and keeping the ball inside the Cats’ forward 50 as long as possible.
As fate would have it, Fogarty has moved in with Bruce Harwood and his wife Jen, the Geelong mayor who happens to be more well known as Patrick Dangerfield’s father-in-law, doing perhaps too good a job in helping him settle.
“[I was] going to stay there until the end of the year but who knows I might stay there a second year. They have been that good to me. I am loving it,” Fogarty said.