In country football, it's the people that are the essence of individual clubs.
At every club you'll be sure to find numerous volunteers who donate countless hours of their time with little to no reward.
It's the players that earn the results on-field, but without the off-field work of volunteers there would be no players.
The name Willie Hanson is synonymous with the Natimuk United Football Club, as both a player and a volunteer.
Such was his contribution to the club, that Natimuk United's football changerooms are named after him.
Hanson or "the Worm" as he was referred to, played a mammoth 582 (430+ senior) games for the Rams, spanning nearly 40 years.
He made his debut for Natimuk reserves in 1972 and played his first senior game in 1976.
His last game came around ten years ago at the age of 53.
Unfortunately Hanson was never able to taste the ultimate success with the senior Rams appearing in three losing grand finals.
However he did have the honour of representing the HDFNL interleague side on multiple occasions.
"I was lucky enough to get a couple of interleague games which was another highlight, playing with the best in the league at the time," Hanson said.
Hanson played with and against a plethora of high quality players during his time in the HDFNL.
"I believe that in my career it was the best time of playing football in the late 70s, 80s and 90s I just think was the best time of football around here," he said.
"That's my personal opinion. I played with and against a lot of very talented footballers. Shane Heard I played against him and he played for Homers before he got drafted to Essendon."
As previously mentioned Hanson's work was not limited to the playing field.
As a clubman and president, Hanson helped the club through some dark periods in the 2000s.
From the late-90s Natimuk United went 46 games without a win.
The Rams then suffered a highly-publicised 39-game losing streak that was finally broken with a two-goal win against Taylors Lake in 2005.
The Herald Sun even published a story on the breakthrough win, quoting Hansen.
"It was a big day for the whole town, given that Natimuk pretty much lives and dies by its footy club," Hanson said.
Unfortunately the celebrations were short-lived for the Rams as they went onto endure a 37-match losing streak, before a 40-point win against Taylors Lake 764-days later in 2007.
Speaking on that early 2000s period Hanson said "the club was on its knees".
"There was one game there we played Laharum and we had players playing three games to survive," he said.
"Those tough times (we) could have easily just packed up shop and said it's all too hard, but when you look at any club and you go to a training night or a game and you see how many people it affects, that's where you've got to keep fighting, to keep it there for those people.
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"It affects a lot of people. The kids, the netballers, parents and grandparents. If you pull the pin it's a lot of people have got to find something to do on the weekend."
In 2003 Ram's legend Simon Mentz released a documentary titled "Rams to the slaughter" chronicling the club's struggles, which went on to win the club a $20, 000 prize on The Footy Show.
The club's facilities at the time were in dire need of an upgrade and the $20, 000 assisted with that.
"I think at the time it was in an old changeroom/shed so we had to look at infrastructure so that's why we targeted and were lucky enough to get 20 grand from the channel nine footy show," Hanson said.
"Which drove us to getting new changerooms 15-17 years ago. We worked hard and built new changerooms to have some decent facilities and in the meantime we put new goal posts up, cut the ground down a couple of times to try and get it as level as we could because it was on a slope.
"A lot of people worked a lot of volunteer hours to get those jobs done for the future of the club which is paying dividends now."
The work has certainly paid off for the Rams who narrowly went down to Noradjuha-Quantong in the HDFNL semi finals two-years-ago and are a chance to make finals this year, sitting in seventh spot after ten rounds.
Despite not having a formal role with Natimuk United these days, Hanson now 63, still keeps an eye on the Rams.
"The clubs running really well now, we've got a good committee and a lot of good support and the side's going well. I've stepped aside and they're doing a top job," he said.
He also spends time caring for his grandchildren on weekends while their parents represent the Rams.
"That's my role to a degree now, It's all enjoyable," he said.
"I go and watch them when I can at Nati."
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