Brave Pettifer plays with heavy heart

September 11, 2017

Kyabram superstar Kayne Pettifer played a semi-final, only hours after learning the tragic news of the death of two relatives.

It will go down as one of the more courageous and inspiring efforts in Goulburn Valley League history.

Kyabram superstar Kayne Pettifer played a semi-final, only hours after learning the tragic news of the death of two relatives.

His aunt and uncle were killed in a car accident at Wyuna, near Tongala, on Saturday morning.

That was on top of already dealing with another uncle dying in a car crash before the qualifying final against Shepparton a week earlier.

Kyabram coach Paul Newman said the club would give as much support to the beloved Pettifer as possible.

‘‘It’s unbelievably courageous to turn up and play, he was obviously pretty distressed in the morning, so it’s a very gutsy effort.’’

Rochester and Kyabram football clubs have played for the Mick Pettifer Memorial Shield since 2010, in honour of Kayne’s father who died in a car crash that also claimed the life of his cousin Ross Andrew Inch.

‘‘He’s (Pettifer) been super for us, but the family has been through so much and they just don’t deserve it and they somehow keep getting the tough breaks in life,’’ Newman said.

‘‘Everyone will keep supporting him and the family we’ll get around him as much as we can in this next little period.’’

Family members were only being told about four hours before the start of the game, with Pettifer declaring to Newman he would be right to go after being convinced to play by his grandfather.

‘‘I wasn’t going to play, I thought it’d be too much, but I spent an hour-and-a-half with my Pa and he told me to just go and play and do the family proud,’’ Pettifer told The News yesterday.

‘‘I went to the game with Danny Kent, my brother-in-law and assistant coach, but he was great for me and really supported me well.

‘‘It was very tough in the warm-up, but once the boys got around me and I kicked the first goal of the game, it was a bit of a dream start.

‘‘But it was emotionally draining by the end and I’m just glad we got the win.’’

Pettifer said he was grateful to everyone who had supported his family in tough circumstances.

‘‘We’re (his family) all going okay, it’s still just utter shock and disbelief,’’ Pettifer said.

‘‘I lost my Dad and my cousin in a car crash in 2009, so it’s just hard to comprehend what’s happened and that tragic accidents have affected both sides of my family.

‘‘I had spent Friday with them (aunt and uncle) as they had come down for a 90th birthday and they were just going to head back home again on Saturday morning.

‘‘Pete Croxford, the (Kyabram) president and the whole club at Kyabram have been great. We’ve had a lot of messages and people sending through their condolences to check up on the family.

‘‘I want to thank Seymour as well for the respect they showed and the support from the whole footy community is much appreciated by the whole family.’’

Pettifer’s resilience was on show early, as he kicked the first goal of the game for the Bombers in just the second minute.

All Kyabram’s players were wearing black armbands as a sign of respect.

An incredible moment came in the last quarter when Pettifer was tucked away in the pocket, but managed to put through a check side goal from the most difficult of angles.

Pettifer had a great duel all afternoon with Seymour defender Brent Ryan.

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