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On Saturday 6th July Stephen McDonald played his 282nd senior game for the Lilydale Football Club and is so doing, broke the club record for the most senior games played. The previous holder of the record was Warren Cruse who played his 281st game in the 2009 season.
Steve has played his whole football career with the Lilydale Football Club. He commenced playing in the midgets or Under 10s at age 9 way back in 1988 and finished his junior career in 1994 in the Under 16s when the team were runners up under the coaching of Gerry Toohey. He has played throughout his career with great mates including Sean Toohey, Lucas Skelton, Chris Goodlet, Garret Dobson and Jamie Cruickshank. Jamie will play in the same side with Steve this week as he breaks the club record. He played in the Under 18s in 1995-96 finishing fourth in the best and fairest in 1996 with 28 votes winning the most determined award. He then graduated to the seniors in 1997 playing 17 games. At that time the club record was held by Bill Harrop with 271 games.
Except for a break during 2001 when he travelled overseas, Steve has not missed a season playing with the Falcons. He has since clocked up another 264 senior games to put him on the threshold of the record which he will establish with his 282nd game against South Croydon in front of his home crowd. Steve has won many accolades and achieved many milestones along the way. When he was in the Under 16s he played with the Carlton Football Club along with Sean Toohey. He completed the Kokoda Trail trek with 14 other Lilydale Football Club stalwarts in October 2007 again including Sean. He has earned such prestigious awards such as the best team man and most disciplined on several occasions throughout his illustrious playing career.
Steve played his 150th game in 2006 when great mates Jamie Cruickshank and Lucas Skelton also played their 150th senior games with the club and the current club record holder Warren Cruse played his 250th game. Warren at the time joined Billy Harrop, Hector Cruickshank, Graeme Ellis and Brett Toohey as the only players to have reached that milestone. Steve then went on to play his 200th game in 2008 and his 250th game in Round 15 of the 2011 season during which he also celebrated one of three premierships he has achieved with the Dales the others being in 1998 and 2003. In 2008 he was also awarded life membership for playing his 200th senior game.
From a personal perspective Steve reckons the person who has influenced his career the most is his mother who took him to the football all through those junior years and still comes to watch me play now. The best footballer he has played with is Peter Skewes for the courage he displayed on the football field. He has stayed with Lilydale because you get to play footy with genuine great blokes and the majority of Lilydale recruits are mates of current players who come to play for the right reasons not just for money.
The President, Committee, sponsors and supporters of the Lilydale Football Club salute Stephen McDonald and congratulate him on setting a new club record for the most senior games played with the Falcons. Stephen has been a real monument to the game and a true blue and gold player who epitomises what loyalty and sportsmanship are all about. This is a most deserving and popular milestone set by one the true gentlemen of the game.
The President Graham Reynolds presented Steve with the match ball signed by all the players at the after match presentations in the social rooms.
Posted: 7th July 2013