Zac McLean – Loyalty and Friendship through 100 games
If ever there is someone who lives up to a nickname it is Zac McLean, dubbed “Magic” from a young age, the former Everton Wolves product reaches his 100th Senior game for the Tigers this Saturday at the Den as a high flying key forward, all in quick fire fashion and he is still only 24 years of age.
We caught up with Zac this week to reflect on his time at the Tigers over a period which has seen the club achieve an amazing array of success.
The immensely talented McLean made his debut with the Tigers as a slightly built seventeen year old in 2013 after a late Friday night call up by his Colts Coach Jarad Marsh who picked him up early on Saturday morning for the road trip to Surfers Paradise. Zac fondly recalls that team mate Tom Ditchburn presented him with his senior jersey setting the scene for a very creditable debut where he kicked two goals and was named in the best players. Despite this impressive start, in typical style he didn’t play another game for 2013 preferring to enjoy his time with his large group of close friends in the Colts team.
It was however inevitable that the call up would happen, so despite still being eligible for Colts in 2014, Zac was elevated to the Seniors as he continued to show his considerable credentials. It was further evidence of his ability that he forced his way into the star studded team that went on to win every game for the Season and record the Club’s first senior Premiership in thirty two years. He has been a fixture in the Senior team ever since, only missing six games despite a badly broken ankle in late 2018 which could have sidelined him for twelve months but for his determination to overcome such a serious injury.
It is not lost on a typically humble Zac how fortunate he has been to be part of such success or to have been mentored by a range of highly experienced and capable people through his junior and senior career to date.
When asked who has been the most influential on his development, he is quick to acknowledge the great support and direction he received from Danny Craven and Greg Braden as his junior coaches at the Wolves who set the scene for him and honed the skills he would need to become a senior footballer. Danny took over the Director of Football role for the Tigers in 2014 and has continued to be a reliable influence and sounding board for Zac to this day. He reflects that Danny has been another father figure for him over a long period. Danny has also proudly coached Zac in recent years in a number of all conquering South Queensland teams continuing their partnership at another level.
Zac is one of a very unique group who enjoyed Triple success with Premierships in 2015 and 2016 to back up the breakout result in 2014. He cherishes the 2016 result most of all with the team challenged early in the season by injury and not expected to make the finals, but the group dug deep to overcome all the adversity and finish the season with yet another Flag. On a personal level he won the Keith Beavis Club Champion Trophy in 2016 to cap off a great year, an award which he is very proud, but was surprised to receive at the time. He is very grateful for the on and off field advice and direction provided by so many of the more mature players at the club including Shaun Daly and Caleb Brown but also Luke Faulkner who gave him plenty of tuition on the finer points of forward play. He also acknowledges the leadership of Jack Collings over the years and their strong friendship.
For a player so gifted we asked what has been key to making the Tigers his home for so many years. The answer exemplifies the type of person that Zac is, his values and why he is one of the most loved by his team mates and everyone in Tigerland. He cites the friendships, the connections and the people, whether that is his team mates or the wonderful people that keep the Tigers going year in, year out in so many support roles. He thinks the Club culture is second to none.
After being the beneficiary of all this support, he feels beholden to make sure he keeps this culture going, share his experience and do his best to be a leader for all the younger players coming through the club today.
While he is incredibly serious about his football, preparing like no other to get the best out of himself, he also enjoys the team environment and the fun that is to be had. He has been very fortunate to have a lifelong friend in another young talent and former Wolf in Jordan Morrison and when together there is nothing they like more than to get up to a bit of mischief to keep everyone smiling.
Zac wanted to acknowledge his girlfriend Kirsten for her support and his family who have supported him through his football since his earliest involvement. There is no doubt they will all be there on Saturday to cheer him on in his 100th Senior appearance for the Tigers.
Zac says he is extremely honoured and proud to run out every week wearing the black and gold, to play with his mates and to have achieved this significant milestone. He thanks the club for everything it has done for him and will be looking forward to continuing to do his best for many years to come.
The Mayne Tigers wish him all the very best for this game and look forward to many more.
As has been customary for many years, we have asked a range of team mates and coaches to provide some reflections on their time playing with our milestone player. The following comments are shared clearly evidencing the esteem with which Zac is held.
“I played in Mag's first senior game v Surfers in 2013 and have been lucky enough to play in most of his 99 senior games. I wasn't filled with confidence at the sight of the skinny 17 year old turning up to Surfers that day on the back of no training, but he kicked a couple of goals and performed well in a sign of things to come.
Mag is a very talented player, but he also works hard on his game and prepares well, which I think is an underrated aspect of his success. To already have 3 senior premierships (was barely sighted in the celebrations that followed), a Club Champion and (the one he is most proud of) a Most Determined to his name at such a young age is a huge effort. Really happy to see him reach 100 games for the mighty Tigers and I know there will be plenty more games and accolades to come his way in the future."
“Congratulations on the 100 games Zac! Well deserved and a testament to your hard work and dedication to this great club. You've got better and better each year and you set the standard on and off the field. Looking forward to watching you play your next hundred and helping us win a few more premierships.”
“I couldn't be happier to see Magic reach this milestone, and even though he has achieved so much already (B&F, premierships, rep duties) he is still so young with a lot to look forward to in the future. Two things that stand out about Mag as a footballer; the first is his sublime skill, especially by foot. His ability to hit you on the lead is second to none ... He would have to be my favourite player to lead out to from the forward line. The second thing is his clean hands whether it be around a stoppage or in a marking contest he has always an amazing ability to come away with the footy and bring his teammates into the game. However, the thing I like most about Mag and why I think he is so well respected, is the fact he always has the best interests of the club and his teammates at heart both on and off the field. I have really loved sharing a lot of memorable footy moments with such a good bloke. All the best mate.”
“I’ve been fortunate enough to watch Zac for his entire 100 games both as a team mate and now as coach. Zac’s transition to senior football has been seamless and has been a significant contributor to every game his played. Although he isn’t blessed with any speed or agility, he’s ability to rack up big numbers is Pendlebury like. It must have something to do with his basketball background! Zac has probably had his greatest impact on the club off the field! He takes great pride in getting the 3 votes in any organised social event and is often the last man standing. A great clubman who still has a long career ahead of him. Well done mate!”
“I have been lucky enough to share a lot of my footy experiences with Zac. From playing in a junior flag at Everton in under 13s to having him hand down the no 41 jersey to me in the Mayne Seniors, and then playing alongside him in 2 senior flags in 2015 and 16.
He has really paved the way for Everton juniors making a name for themselves at the Mayne footy club and has done this through his on field determination and class and also through being a ripping bloke off the field.
All the best in your 100th Mag!”
“What a fantastic achievement for Zac to get to 100 games for the club.
I’ve had the privilege of playing in a lot of those games including his first game at Surfers Paradise where he bobbed up and kicked a couple of goals. I think we all knew at that stage that he was very talented and had all the attributes to go on and forge a long career for the Tigers.
What I’ve loved seeing is the way he has matured as both a person and a footballer. At times and by his own admission he could be the ‘class clown’, but he is a popular member of the playing group who people have a lot of respect for. To win the club best and fairest as a 20 year old in a premiership year shows the level of ability he has and could have easily played at higher levels.
His performances in Grand Finals also showed he can step up on the big stage.
He is now a bonafide leader of the club and his form onfield this season has gone to a new level. He is so clean with his hands, is a terrific overhead mark and more importantly knows where the goals are.
All the best for game 100 mate, very well deserved, I’m disappointed I won’t be running out with you this weekend.”
“Zachary Ethan McLean, congratulations on making it to 100 games. You are one of the most selfless, courageous and toughest players I have ever played with. Needless to say you have overcome some major adversity to make it to this great milestone, from a severe break of your leg to getting stretched off with a neck brace on after rolling your ankle, not many people have overcome what you have. Best of luck in your 100th game mate. I cannot wait to run out with you.”
“I remember Zac coming through as a teenager and dominating underage footy with a few people telling me about him And then Mitch played him for a game back in 2013. There’s always a question about whether players can come up from underage football to play seniors.
It was certainly no issue for Zac. His first full year of seniors in 2014 was very impressive and he really stood up in our first grand final that year, kicking 3 crucial goals and remaining calm when others might not have been. It Really kept us in the game.
How do you describe him as a player??? Skilful, clean, leader, brave and reliable.
He’s got a cheeky side off the field which we all love but his heart is 100% in the right spot and when that siren goes u know what he’s going to bring for the team. I miss coaching and playing alongside him because he always wanted to learn and be better.
Premiership player, best and fairest, leader and now 100 games. Bloody awesome stuff, well done and well deserved.”
“It has been great playing for Mayne with Zac from when he came through from the juniors through to winning 3 flags with the club. High quality player that Has always had the ability to rack up big possessions and also kick bags of goals while playing in the midfield. Won a best in fairest in a premiership team which says a lot about the bloke’s talent and footy ability. Congrats on the 100th game and look forward to playing it with you, will shake his hand during the game as we probably won’t see him out after.”
“Congratulations Zac on your 100th game for the tiges! You’ve been an important part of the side since you first joined and it’s been great to watch you get back to some of your best footy this season after a couple of injury interrupted years. 100 games and plenty more to come...”
"Congrats Zac Magic McLean on your 100 games. Superstar on the field, terrible off it.
Its been an absolute pleasure to watch you come through the ranks and be one of the leaders of the club. Super skillful on the field, best P-wedge kick going around, loves a goal and the chat.
It has been an honour playing with you and winning 3 flags together. I think we can get at least one more.
All the best for this weekend mate. Look forward to running out with you and celebrating afterwards."
“100 games is nice Zacco my boy but let’s be honest, Housego is your target!
Who would have thought the little fella with glasses from the Wolves u/10s would develop into a 6”1 rangy type with a Mayne Senior 3peat under his belt as a 21 y.o.?
The worlds ya oyster Magic, u & ya little mate Mordy....
So go and do the Tigers proud mate and lead that next generation down the little Harry Potter lane of Mott St, with its rich history of Ressies pocket & the nude gifts and see if u can add a few more danglys with the lads over the next decade or two.