Phoenix stalwart Alex Hayward brings up his 100th game at the Blacks this weekend.
‘Haysie’ made his club debut in 2012 after moving down from Canberra. His relationship with fellow Canberrian Josh O’Malley and workmate Charlie McIntyre drawing him to the Blacks. He quickly established himself as a pillar of the thirds side and in the words of Sam Lane, ‘a bonafide superstar of the Premier Thirds competition’.
An ever-present member of the leadership group, Haysie has captained the Phoenix on a number of occasions. He was a member of the 2014 Phoenix preliminary final-winning side, also winning the Coach’s Award in that season.
His back-to-back best and Phoenix fairest awards in 2016-17 firmly cemented him as one of the Blacks’ finest thirds players in recent years, before playing consistent Reserves footy in 2018 culminating in another winning preliminary final. The lure of another shot at an elusive flag with the Phoenix has seen him return to the Crawford in 2019.
We spoke with the man himself during the week to get his thoughts on his time with the Blacks.
What’s your best on-field memory?
“Playing in two winning preliminary final teams. One with the Reserves and one with the Phoenix.”
Of course, the Blacks are known for their efforts off the field as well. Best memory in this area?
“This is tough as there has been a few over the years. But my four mystery bus adventures have all been unforgettable. Also, a couple of the early Phoenix/Clubbies parties at Omo, Davo, Coops and Foz’s place that started with very long lock-ins in the Crawford change rooms were amazing. Buster McKay was crucial to the success of a few of these.”
“Meeting a whole range of great blokes and sticking around for 8 seasons.”
Any favourite team mates?
“I have played through two or three complete turnovers of the Phoenix and during that time I’ve been very lucky to play with a lot of amazing people. The current group of fellas I’ve been playing with for the last few years are hard to go past though.
“Why I love the Phoenix? It has been a perfect combination of competitive footy, a relaxed commitment, brilliant blokes and awesome social functions. I had almost thrown in the towel for footy when I moved to Melbourne, and now 8 seasons later and 31 years old I’m still loving it. I also to this day can’t get over the generosity of time and spirit of the club’s coaches and volunteers. Over my time Yeoy, Rusty, Buster, Laney, Heels, Linc Merlo and now Mick Farrell have been unbelievable in what they have given to the Phoenix and the culture that they have created.
“Laney undoubtably deserves special mention for the years of service to the Phoenix and everything he has done to make my time here an amazing experience.”
Congratulations Haysie on 100 Blacks games. Hopefully next year you’ll check what weekend Round 1 falls on so you don’t book in any major life events (AKA: your wedding).