Families Keep In Touch At State Cup

When Darren Shelley and Mark Hearnden met playing Touch Football over 25 years ago, little did they think they’d still be playing Men’s Open in 2012 – let alone with their sons.

Mark’s three sons, Louis, Jack and Isaac, are all part of the Taren Point Men’s Open team as is Darren’s son Casey, who has also joined the team.

This year’s event is 15-year-old’s Casey’s first State Cup, and once he was in the side, Darren decided that he would like to have another run too.

Both Mark and Darren have had impressive careers, representing Australia over 50 times between them. The fact that they are still playing at a Men’s Open level and can join their children on the park is all the incentive they need to continue at this level.

“This year it’s been very exciting to have Darren and Casey play and I’m really thrilled,” Hearnden said.

“It’s a big highlight, absolutely, to play with your same mates from all those years is quite a thrill but then to have the opportunity to play with your mate’s sons and your own son is very special. I don’t think there are too many people that have done it,” Shelley said.

“I think once we stop (playing) we’ll appreciate it more. But we enjoy it, that doesn’t mean we’re all happy families out there. I reckon I’ve still got them all for speed at the moment, but that won’t last much longer,” Hearnden said.

It is safe to say that there would never have been any doubt that the Hearnden and Shelley children were going to follow in their father’s footsteps. Both of their wives also participate in State Cup regularly, while both also have younger daughters who also enjoy the sport, with Hearnden’s daughter Ella also taking part in this year’s State Cup.

“We’ve been coming here for a long time, since my kids have been toddlers and wanted to go and get an ice cream it would always take an hour to get to there because we’d be stopping to say hello to people. That’s the beauty of State Cup, catching up with friends that you’ve played against and with over the years,” Hearnden said.

“They’ve come in strollers and now for them to be playing is really exciting. We’re all playing, we all enjoy the game.”

Darren and Mark have spent the best part of their playing careers on the field together, which has included two Sydney Championships titles with Cronulla, but while there is plenty of silverware in Darren’s trophy cabinet, there is one thing missing.

“We won Sydney Champs in 1987 and 1991. We never got over the line here (State Cup) together. It’s the one thing, I’ve never got one of these. I need one State Cup title to round everything off,” Shelley said.

“If we could somehow jag a win, if circumstances did present themselves, to win with the kids would be amazing,” Hearnden said.


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