Sporty homecoming at Galen for Ian Hayden

As the first Champagnat College student to reach VFL ranks, Ian Hayden’s name has been perpetuated in Wangaratta for decades.

Through a trophy for the Champagnat (and later Galen College) Footballer of the Year, he has remained an intrinsic part of his former school’s celebration of talent.

But until this week, a successful career as a criminal barrister had restricted the former Imperials, Wangaratta Magpies and Richmond player’s availability to present the trophy in person.

As the 78 year old retired in July this year after 55 years at the Victorian Bar, he felt the time was right to reacquaint himself with Wangaratta and his former school, where he handed the trophy to 2018 winner Ed Dayman on Tuesday.

“It’s tremendous to be able to come back and present the trophy,” he said.

“There has been a lot of change in Wangaratta, particularly around the college, it’s really expanded, but it’s a great town, and the climate here is wonderful.”

With his brothers Rodney and John and sister Susan (the latter two also re-visited Wangaratta as part of a large Hayden family contingent this week), Ian grew up around The General Store in Tone Road, which was built by his father John and still stands today.

He was nine when the family arrived in Wangaratta, and was a foundation student at Champagnat College in 1955, along with his brothers.

Ian played in the college’s first 18 during his three years at the school, becoming vice captain in his final year under the captaincy of Des Tuck (Brother Bernadine).

He matriculated in 1957, at the age of just 16.

“I left Wangaratta after matriculation, though I didn’t plan to; I was going to do my articles through a course, but then I discovered they had cancelled the course, so I had to head to Melbourne to study at university,” he said.

Despite his young age, Ian’s role in Wangaratta Football Club’s senior side stood him in good stead for acceptance to Melbourne University.

“It was hard to get into university under age, though they were satisfied with my academic results,” he said.

“But because I was playing with the Magpies, after asking a few more questions, they said as I’d been playing football for a year or so with men, I must be mature enough to take it on.”

Ian returned to Wangaratta while studying over the following couple of years, and remembers his unique method of arrival each weekend.

“I travelled back in 1958 and ’59, and I really enjoyed coming back,” he said.

“I’d get on the train on Friday evening, and then when it slowed down at Tone Road, I’d jump off at the back of the general store and surprise my parents.”

While at university, Ian played for Melbourne University Blues A team, and later became captain of the intervarsity team.

He won the Woodrow Medal for best and fairest in the A grade amateurs, and captained Newman College in 1960, also winning the best and fairest and the Intercollegiate Medal.

The Haydens were already passionate Richmond fans due to their association with lawyer and Tigers administrator Ray Dunn (a Richmond Hall of Fame member), with whom Ian did his law articles.

But the family’s passion rose to another level when Ian joined the club, playing his first game for Richmond in 1962, and being named best first year player.

The following year saw him take out the club’s leading goal kicker title, after booting 25 goals in 15 games.

However, Ian’s league career came to an abrupt end in 1964 when he ruptured his ACL and medial ligaments, and tore the cartilage in his knee, in the first round match against Footscray - a game in which he was awarded three Brownlow votes.

“They couldn’t do anything for it in those days; now, you might be back the next season,” he said.

“I did try to make a comeback, but the knee was gone.”

Though he was disappointed, Ian admitted the end of his footy involvement probably boosted the success and longevity of his legal career.

Along with helping to raise his seven children, Ian said he relished his involvement in criminal law, which included cases like the Walsh Street trial.

“I loved doing jury trials, particularly murders,” he said.

“Most murders are not whodunnits, but you do get the odd one.”

In recent years, Ian has moved the admission for two of his granddaughters to the Queensland Bar and Victorian Bar.

One of them, Charlotte Hayden, said her grandfather had “without a doubt” influenced her decision to enter law.

“I lived with him before I went to law school and followed him around all his cases,” she said.

“I remember he was in court one day, and the prosecutor was ripping into him and I was almost in tears.

“Then when we came out for a break, he said, ‘We have to catch Johnny’, who was the prosecutor, and I said, ‘No way, he was awful to you in there’, but Grandad just laughed and said, ‘Oh, no, that was all for show, we went to school together’.”

One of Ian’s children, Michael, said his dad was “a bit of a treasure, not because of his football or law background, but because of the bloke he is”.

“He has seven kids, he is a friend to all of his children, and is everyone’s second father around where he lives,” he said.

Ian said his return to Wangaratta had caused him to reflect on his life since leaving the city, and he hoped to return more often during retirement, as he has “really good memories of my time here”.



"I’d get on the train on Friday evening, and then when it slowed down at Tone Road, I’d jump off at the back of the general store and surprise my parents". - IAN HAYDEN


Ian Hayden


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