Dean Hartley - Courage Under Fire

As Dean Hartley prepares to make his 100th appearance for the Mayne Tigers this Saturday, we remind ourselves that there are times in life when things all come together and they just work. This could not be more true for the Mayne Tigers than when Dean made the decision in 2012 to investigate the growing momentum of the club at the time.

Deano, as he is affectionately referred, was playing in Mackay with the potential for a finals appearance while one of his good mates Matty Hungerford was running around on the wing for the Tigers. Business was looking up and a move to Brisbane was on the cards, so Matty suggested that if he was to come down, he should definitely play for the Tigers for the remainder of 2012. In addition to the connection with Hungerford, Club Patron Graham Walters ironically had a close family member working with Dean in Mackay so when hearing that he was considering the move to the big smoke, Walters added his considerable influence to the mix making sure he was only ever going to play for Mayne.

It was pretty clear that the Tigers coaching hierarchy were pretty keen on Hartley after seeing him in action during those first few games in 2012 and would be wanting to have him join permanently when he made the move. Tigers Coach at the time, Mitch Ferguson, had been slowly building an impressive list of players on the Tigers shoestring budget that would in a year’s time commence one of the most successful periods in the club’s history with Dean Hartley being a critical component of that group.

At the same time that Dean was moving to Brisbane, Shaun Daly was considering a move from Albury as well. And so it began, in a bonus to securing Dean’s signature, his connections in Albury were put into play and the negotiations started to bring the O&M Medallist to the Tigers, a masterstroke which would bolster the club’s ranks for 2013 and beyond.

A mercurial defender in every respect, Hartley is one of the most poised, balanced, measured and courageous individuals that you could hope to have in your club’s backline. A rare ability to read the play under enormous pressure, Hartley has been putting his body on the line while guiding the Tigers backline for the last six years and in the process taking the club to three premierships. Hartley, with typical humility, would be the first to say the success he has enjoyed has been built on the back of great relationships in the defenders club with names like Brown, O’Malley, Stephens, Greville, Thompson, Gartlan and Harvey being foundation members with him.

In such a successful period with incredible talent all around him, Dean has been a regular member of the leadership group providing the maturity and support that comes from someone with natural ability in this area which transcends both his football and business life.

The flip side to being a member of such a great collection of players in a stellar period sometimes means it is hard to get amongst the personal silverware, and when you play in defence, you know the accolades usually go to the pretty boys in the midfield and up forward. However, during his time with the Tigers, Dean has been recognised as Best Team Player, Most Consistent and the Mick Nolan Player’s Player, all epitomising where he sits in the club’s recent history with his team mates and coaches.

A great club man, Hartley has been a club sponsor for six years through his growing business, My FootDr, while playing purely for the love of the game. It is also very much a family affair for Dean as he has been blessed with a great and supportive partner with wife Louise an important member of the Tiger supporter network never missing a game, always prepared to help with social events, while children Isla and Aussie are there for every minute of Daddy’s footy.

The Mayne Tigers fortunes certainly improved when Dean Hartley walked into the club in 2012 but the same can be said for dozens of players and club members at the Tigers over the last six years who now call him a close friend and team mate.

We asked some of his team mates and former coaches to provide their thoughts on Dean’s 100 game milestone this week and you will rarely read a better set of testimonials and recollections than the following. Read on …

Deano is no lie probably the best key position Backman I’ve ever played with. He is loved by everyone he takes the field with but probably even more so the 5 or 6 other backs that play alongside of him! He has been instrumental in so many wins I’ve been involved in since being at the club and even with limited training at times will still end up in the best handful of players week in week out! He reads the play as well as anyone and if they had an intercept mark stat in the competition there’d be no doubt he’d be a mile in front on top of that list! Congratulations on 100 games mate, couldn’t be more deserved!

Clint Brunnenmeyer (Coach 2016-17)

Dean has always been Mr Consistent and a genuine person on and off the track. He’s been unbelievably good during the finals series over the past few years and he continues to play his role to a very high standard in 2018. I think the forward line is calling though and he would be better suited in front of the big sticks over the next few seasons. It was a pleasure to play in almost half of his 99 games and I wish Dean all the best for game 100.

Luke Ferguson

What a privilege to run out for the Tigers with Dean Hartley, the most miserly, reliable and toughest defender I have played with. It is amazing the amount of times he has backed into the hole and taken the brunt of a rampaging forward (often my opponent). All I can do is call out "Hold Deano!", then listen for the impact.

His kicking style, whilst not 'textbook', is always effective. 

Deano's management and on-field chat is perfect, who doesn't love his famous "I'm Coming!", when he is desperately approaching a teammate under siege. His overall leadership and footy IQ has always been elite.

Congratulations Deano! 100 of the best mate! and always remember, premierships are (and were) won in the defence.

Tom O'Malley

Deano is one of the most inspirational and courageous players I have played with. His ability to read the play and mark opposition kicks shows his combination of skill and courage. His mark running back with the flight to seal the 2015 Grand final is a highlight of my time at Mayne!

Dean has been a great leader and role model for me and the entire club both on and off the field. I consider myself very lucky to have played so many games with Deano.

Congrats on the 100 games Deano.

Jack Collings (Club Captain 2017-18)

Dean has been a legend of the club since the moment he started playing for the Tiges. One of the most courageous team mates I have ever played with, and probably the most consistent. He has made an enormous contribution to the club both on and off the field and is universally respected by opposition and teammates.

One of the great 'miserly' defenders of the triple premiership backline, a pleasure to have called a team mate!

Bill Stephens

If there was a prototype of the ultimate AFL teammate, clubman and defender...insert Dean Hartley.

Courageous to a fault, heart of the “Men’s Department”, Member of the “Irish Daly” kicking school....Deano extracts every ounce of ability he has, every Single time!

In a 3peat Premiership era, surrounded by champions, he was arguably the most important of them all....

Congratulations Deano.

Danny Craven (Coach 2016 and Director of Football 2014-16)

Deano is one of my closest mates and I had the pleasure of coaching and playing alongside him. From a coaches point of view Dean was the ultimate team man. He is one of the most reliable defenders you can come across and every time we gave him a task you just didn’t have to worry about whether it would get done or not. He is just a leader of men on and off the field and I often looked for advice from him.

From a players point of view I just loved running out with him every week. You just knew that he would sacrifice his body for the betterment of the team every time no questions asked. Congratulations on 100 wonderful games Deano and I wish I was there to run out with you, you’re a superstar!!

Shaun Daly (Coach 2014-15)

I think I'm going to start this by saying Deano would have to be one of my favourite ever team mates!!!! Most people don't realise how much of a gun Deano is, and I'm not just saying that because of all the times he saved my backside when i played down back with him. Every week he does a job whether it be shutting down the oppositions best forward (small or tall it doesn't matter), taking 15-20 intercept marks as third man up or simply supporting his teammates anyway he can, and he does it all in his own unassuming/underrated way ... AND he is the only guy I know who marks the ball better running backwards than he does moving forwards. I'm sure all the guys who run out with him on Saturday realise how lucky they are to still have him as a teammate and will put in a huge effort. Congrats and thoroughly deserved mate. Spewing I won't be there to watch.

Caleb Brown (Club Captain 2012-16)

Deano's arrival at the Tigers signalled a new age for Mayne, one which will be remembered fondly as the 3 peat era. At the time, one of our players (Matt Hungerford) was pumping up an ex team mate of his from Mackay who was moving to Brisbane with work. Russ and I were always on the lookout to build our list depth so I followed him up. After having a warm up kick with Deano I wasn't quite getting a warm fuzzy feeling inside, possibly due to his very "unique" kicking style...and whining about a sore ankle! In any event we threw him in the reserves that week and immediately fell in love with his incredibly competitive nature, as he led the reserves to an impressive win. I remember throwing him a number of huge challenges in the seniors after that - getting him to play on some of the biggest names in the competition...all of which was lost on Hartley! Deano, for all his astute business background is something of an air head when it comes to remembering who he is playing on. He would always have to ask for the number of the player we had earmarked for him, remind him where he plays and what foot he kicks with - and how said player was pretty much the best player in the competition. Nevertheless this ability Deano possessed to not get flustered or intimidated by the task at hand stood the team in good stead in the premiership years.

We do remind Dean that his lasting imprint on Mayne will be his connection with dual premiership coach Shaun Daly - who by virtue of a mutual friend in Albury - got the deal over the line in securing Daly in Tigers colours. As important was the recruitment of his far better half Louise who had driven a number of brilliant ladies functions over the years...and makes the best sausage rolls in Brisbane!

As I reflect on the achievements of yet another 100 game milestone player at the Tigers I can't help but think of the growth in these players off the field as much as their efforts on the park. In Deano's case his extraordinary success with his business Balance Podiatry (now a National brand) has been a pleasure to watch. I can assure everyone that this was no overnight success but rather a function of a disciplined approach, combined with an enormous amount of hard work, sacrifice and resilience, coupled with natural talent and ability. All of these attributes I am proud to say as Dean's coach and friend, I have witnessed on display in every game I coached him in his progression through to game 100.

I am absolutely stoked for Dean and his wonderful family in reaching this significant milestone.

It has been an absolute pleasure.

Mitch Ferguson (Coach 2007-10 and 2012-13)

Dean is someone that everyone loves to play with. He leads from the front with his actions and lifts the entire club with courage.

Congratulations on 100 games and hope there's many more to come!

Jake Magill

It’s a wonderful achievement to reach 100 games, especially when you lead a busy life like Dean Hartley does. Dean manages his life around family, work and football and does all three extremely well. Whilst work restraints limit Dean to be at all training sessions, his performance game day is nothing short of extraordinary. Having him in our team certainly makes all the other players around him walk just that little bit taller.

Well done mate on your 100th game for the Tiges, let’s hope there are plenty more to come.

Chris David (Coach 2018)

Not many blokes can claim they are more accurate with their defensive spoils than their kicks, although Deano is probably one. Seriously though, Dean is one of the most courageous players I've played with and is highly regarded by his teammates, which would be reflected in his consistently high polling in the Players Player award. It certainly makes playing in the backline easier having dean, knowing that he will often be there to cut across and spoil your opponent. Dean was also one of the first to introduce himself to me and have a chat on my first night at training, proving he is also a good bloke off the field. Congratulations on reaching 100 games Dean and I look forward to playing with you for at least another couple of years.

Jack Gartlan.

Deano truly is one of the best blokes to have worn the Tiger jumper!

On field he is as courageous as they come and has played a huge roll in all the success we have had as a football club.

Off field he is a great friend and family man and it’s hard to believe that he continues to be one of the last to leave any sort of social gathering.

Congrats on 100 games Deano, it’s been a pleasure to have been out there with you!

Corey Massingham

One of the best blokes I’ve met in football and the major reason how I ended up at the footy club. On the field he constantly denies his opponent the football and is rarely beaten in a one on one situation. Whether he is spoiling the ball over the boundary line or taking a courageous pack mark Dean always puts his team mates first. Off the field he takes time getting to know everyone and is always in the votes Silly Sunday and Mad Monday! Congrats on the 100 games mate! 

Josh Duffy

Dean Hartley is one of the great clubmen and a bloke that you love playing with. Does all the team things and has never been one to care about individual performance. Dean is courageous, an outstanding leader & one of the best left foot kicks I have ever seen. Good luck in your 100th mate! Looking forward to seeing you at Cloudland afterwards.

Zac McLean

A wonderful effort by Dean to get to this milestone. He has been a terrific servant to the Mayne Tigers since arriving at the club in 2012.

He is a fantastic clubman and bloke and is probably the most courageous footballer I have had the pleasure of playing with.

It’s hard to believe sometimes that the mild mannered businessman during a work week can turn into such a hard and tough footballer by the weekend, but that is Dean Hartley.

Great effort mate and I wish you all the best on the weekend.

Luke Faulkner 

Congrats Deano on your 100 games. The thing that sticks out for me most is the amount of times Deano backs into the pack to save us in defence. One of the best and toughest players I have played with.  

Sam Paterson

 




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