Friday 13 December 2019

Tragic passing of Aussie Rules trailblazer Wight

Cliona Foley

SEAN Wight, the original Irish trailblazer in Australian Rules football, has died at the age of 47 after a short battle with cancer.

Glasgow-born Wight lived in Scotland until he was 10 and moved briefly to England -- where he was offered a trial with Fulham soccer club -- before moving to Ireland in his early teens and taking up Gaelic football with Listowel Emmets.

He progressed so quickly that he was on the Kerry minor team that lost the 1982 final to Dublin. He travelled to Melbourne Demons that winter, reportedly after his aunt spotted an advert for a new AFL recruitment scheme and passed it on to him.

Jim Stynes was also recruited by Melbourne around the same time and they are still regarded as the pioneers whose success paved the way for GAA stars like Tadhg Kennelly to make such a successful transition to Aussie Rules.

Wight and Stynes both played on the Melbourne team that contested the 1988 Grand Final, a year after Wight was selected as an 'All-Australian.'

He made his full senior debut for the club in 1985 and was particularly renowned as a high fielder.

He scored 63 goals in the 150 games he played before retiring in 1995 and would likely have played longer were it not for two knee reconstructions, the first before he played his first league game.

He also represented Australia against Ireland in the 1987 Compromise Rules Series when he scored a goal in Croke Park.

Wight was made a life member of Melbourne in 1994 and served as a director of the club on his retirement.

Melbourne CEO Cameron Schwab paid tribute to him yesterday, saying: "To lose a great champion, a true pioneer, and a man of great courage, at such a young age, is both tragic and a great shock. Our love and support go to his mother Peggy and sisters Fiona and Gwen."

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