Tom Lonergan (Australian footballer)
Lonergan with Geelong in 2011
|Full name||Tom Lonergan|
|Date of birth||17 May 1984|
Yarrawonga (O&MFL) |
Calder Cannons (TAC Cup)
|Draft||No. 23, 2002 national draft|
|Height||197 cm (6 ft 6 in)|
|Weight||95 kg (209 lb)|
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 2017.
|Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com|
Lonergan grew up in Yarrawonga and as a 15-year-old made his senior debut for the Yarrawonga Pigeons against the Wodonga Raiders in the Ovens & Murray Football League. He kicked 6 goals and received an injury to his kidney that may have contributed to his later kidney injury. He also played a few games for the Murray Bushrangers before he moved to Melbourne to attend Assumption College, Kilmore and played for the Calder Cannons in the TAC Cup. Geelong acquired the tall forward in the second round of the 2002 AFL Draft, the 23rd selection overall. After spending two years in the club's VFL side, Lonergan made his AFL debut in Round 9 of the 2005 AFL season.
On 26 August 2006, Lonergan suffered serious internal injury to his kidney whilst playing in a Round 21 draw against Melbourne - which was also just his seventh AFL-level match. Lonergan's kidney was severely damaged when he backed into a marking contest against Melbourne's Brad Miller.
Lonergan was immediately hospitalised, taken to the Geelong Hospital and had been in a stable condition before his blood pressure rose overnight, forcing him to undergo trauma surgery to remove his right kidney. His kidney was found to be badly lacerated and bruised, which was accentuated by the scar tissue caused by a previous footballing injury he had suffered as a 16-year-old. During the six-hour procedure, Lonergan's entire blood supply had to be replaced three times, flushing it through with up to 40 units of blood, placing him into an induced coma. Lonergan remained in a coma for four days, with it taking six hours to bring him back to consciousness. He also lost 17 kg during the ordeal.
Lonergan decided to continue his AFL career, after considering premature retirement, with Geelong agreeing to delist Lonergan, but then re-draft him via the Rookie Draft, with Geelong hoping that other clubs would avoid drafting Lonergan due to the extent of his injuries. Lonergan believed the outcome would benefit both the club and himself, with the club able to draft a new talented youngster through the National Draft, and himself able to continue his recovery at a stable rate. The club is reported to have taken this decision to help Lonergan if he wished to continue his career. Lonergan himself considered retirement following the surgery, but opted to return. Club doctor Chris Bradshaw compared Lonergan's efforts to return to professional sport with those of Jason McCartney, who was injured in the 2002 Bali Bombing before playing one final game.
The day after being re-drafted by Geelong, Lonergan was again involved in another potentially life-threatening incident, this time in the form of a serious car accident. The accident occurred when Lonergan was driving to training, and another car careered into his passenger-side door and pushed him into oncoming traffic. He was lucky to escape with just a scratched leg, but the accident did write off his car. This was another chapter in Lonergan's run of bad luck, with his car getting broken into just a week and a half before the accident. Lonergan stated to the media that he hoped his bad luck had finally come to an end, and jokingly attributed the bad luck to the fact he wore the "unlucky" number 13.
2007: VFL comeback and glory
Lonergan made his return to the sport on 17 June, 2007, playing for Geelong's VFL team against Tasmania. He played the second half of each quarter, kicking one behind, as well as marking five times and making ten disposals. Speaking to reporters after the match, he indicated that he had no time-line for returning to the top league, but fully intended to do so. He had previously remarked on the unusual nature of his injury, claiming that it was a very different feeling to having damaged a joint or a limb.
To cap a fairytale return to football Lonergan played in the 126-52 VFL Grand Final win over the Coburg Tigers kicking six goals earning him the Norm Goss Memorial Medal for best on ground. As a result of his strong form and full recovery from his injuries, Lonergan was elevated to Geelong's senior list for the 2008 AFL Premiership Season.
2008–2017: AFL success
Lonergan played in the Geelong team in the 2008 AFL Grand Final, and missed selection into the Geelong 2009 premiership team. However, during 2011 Tom became a key member of Geelong's defensive back six players, and played a critical role in the 2011 AFL Grand Final holding Travis Cloke goalless in the second half, after Cloke had kicked three goals early in the game while playing on Harry Taylor. The job he executed was crucial for the Cats as it helped stemmed the flow of Collingwood goals and took the red-hot Cloke out of the game.
During the 2014 AFL trade period, Lonergan was offered a three-year contract to join the Western Bulldogs, in a deal estimated to be worth $500,000 a season. Lonergan, who was already contracted to Geelong for 2015, ultimately rejected the offer, citing loyalty to his teammates and the resignation of the Western Bulldogs' coach Brendan McCartney as his main reasons for remaining with the club. He continued to play for Geelong through the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Lonergan played the final game of his career in the 2017 Preliminary Final, where he collected 10 disposals in a heavy loss to Adelaide.
Following his injuries, Lonergan became an ambassador for Zaidee's Rainbow Foundation, an organisation raising awareness of organ donation. The Geelong senior side wore rainbow-coloured laces (the symbol of the foundation) in their boots during their match against the Brisbane Lions immediately following Lonergan's VFL match. Lonergan was in fact wearing rainbow laces during the match in which he was injured.
- Statistics are correct to the end of the 2015 season
|Totals||Averages (per game)|
- Robinson, Mark (30 September 2011)Geelong defender Tom Lonergan dreams of first premiership; Herald Sun
- "Tom Lonergan statistics". AFL Tables. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
- "Geelong's Lonergan tipped to play on". The Age. 28 August 2006. Retrieved 27 September 2008.
- "Aussie Rules player loses kidney in clash". Independent Online. 27 August 2006. Retrieved 27 September 2008.
- Sheahan, Mike (21 September 2006). "Cat reveals his brush with death". Herald Sun. Retrieved 27 September 2008.
- Johnson, Lyall (13 June 2007). "Cats cheer Lonergan's VFL comeback". realfooty.com.au. Retrieved 27 September 2008.
- "Geelong's Lonergan taken out of coma". The Age. 31 August 2006. Retrieved 27 September 2008.
- Gullan, Scott (14 June 2007). "Lucky Tom at end of rainbow". Herald Sun. Retrieved 27 September 2008.
- McCullagh-Beasy, Justine (14 November 2006). "Lonergan to don hoops next season". sportsaustralia.com. Retrieved 27 September 2008.
- "Lonergan set to resume training". ABC Sport. 14 November 2006. Retrieved 27 September 2008.
- "This Cat has nine lives". PerthNow. 13 December 2006. Retrieved 27 September 2008.
- Gullan, Scott (17 June 2007). "Lonergan returns to footy sans kidney". The Age. Retrieved 27 September 2008.
- Gullan, Scott (5 October 2007). "Ablett turns the tables on Bartel in Geelong B&F". Herald Sun. Retrieved 29 September 2008.
- Witham, Jennifer (4 October 2007). "Ablett tops off a grand year for Geelong". AFL BigPond Network. Retrieved 29 September 2008.
- Lonergan relishes Cloke and tagger role
- Geelong confirm greatness with incredible Cat-trick Archived 5 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine, The Michael DiFabrizio Report, Retrieved on 6 October 2011.
- Ralph, Jon (8 October 2014). "Tom Lonergan offered three-year contract to move from Geelong to Western Bulldogs". Herald Sun. Melbourne: The Herald and Weekly Times. Archived from the original on 9 October 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
- "AFL trades: James Gwilt is set to sign with Essendon after being delisted by St Kilda". Herald Sun. Melbourne: The Herald and Weekly Times. 11 October 2014. Archived from the original on 11 October 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
- Shields, Jason (14 June 2007). "Tom Cat's new goal". Geelong Advertiser. Retrieved 27 September 2008.
- Tom Lonergan's player profile at AFL Tables
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