A curtain will soon be drawn on a career that spanned more than 20 years of dedicated service.
Horsham District Football Netball League chairman Fred Mellington announced the 2021 season would be his final one on the HDFNL board.
Few, if any, have done more for the Horsham District Football Netball League than Mellington.
Over two decades, the current chairman, alongside other hardworking volunteers, has worked tirelessly to promote, improve and ensure the smooth running of the HDFNL.
He has served two stints as chairman, 2009-2010 and 2020-2021, and has fulfilled other prominent roles such as interleague director, all the while working his full-time job.
Mellington has been involved in HDFNL administration for over one-third of his life, something which even he finds hard to believe.
"It's funny really, I've been counting the sleeps for quite some time, but as it becomes real - 20-years, it's a long time," Mellington said.
"I'm certainly looking forward to getting a bit more sleep, that'll be one plus I hope."
Mellington has known for a while that this year would be his last, but the adversity of the last two years certainly didn't help in swaying his decision.
He is yet to make specific plans for what he'll do with all his free time in winter but said it would "be nice" to have different options on Saturdays.
Though reluctant to reflect on his legacy and achievements within the league, Mellington pointed to his time as interleague coordinator as a role which was close to his heart.
"I particularly enjoyed my role with interleague over the journey. Just promoting the league and meeting so many good people," he said.
"I've done 19 interleagues and I'm very disappointed that I couldn't get my 20th.
"They're good games and I've met some fantastic fellas over the journey. I've got some lifetime friendships with a lot of the interleague players."
Across the 19 interleague games, there have been plenty of great wins for the HDFNL. Mellington said a victory against the Maryborough-Castlemaine side was one that stood out to him. In that eventual win, the HDFNL side was "five-or-six goals down and showing no sign of coming back" according to the league life member.
Another achievement that Mellington is particularly proud of, came in his first stint as chairman back in 2009-2010. GWM water proposed a "ludicrous" increase in the cost of water for recreation reserves and Mellington, through persistence, was able to help reverse the decision.
"I got some numbers and I finished up sending a letter to ten politicians. I think seven of them responded. I was lucky enough to do it in an election year," he laughed.
"Long story short, the outcome of that, was not only did the increase not go ahead, but the rates actually went down.
"That was a big, big win. I'm really proud of the way I was able to represent the league with all those parliamentarians."
Combining his administrative and playing career (which included a HDFNL premiership with Homers in 1992), Mellington has spent the best part of fifty years involved with football. While that takes an enormous amount of sacrifice, he said he would "do it all again tomorrow".
"I've had a great life with footy. Played at four-or five clubs and met some ripping people along the journey," he said.
I've had a great life with footy. Played at four-or five clubs and met some ripping people along the journey.Fred Mellington
"I've met a heap of good footy people, presidents over the journey that have got their club's interest at heart.
"We're all there for the same reason. When it's all said and done, everybody's exactly the same, we just wear different jumpers or skirts on the weekend."
Although Mellington knows it will be up to other people to judge his time with the HDFNL, he knows one thing for sure - that he is "absolutely good at getting stuff done".
"I administer the same way that I played - head first and we'll worry about the consequences after," he said.
The AFL Wimmera-Mallee Coaches Association awarded Mellington a Distinguished Service Award on Wednesday, with more tributes likely to flow for the outgoing chairman as his retirement news filters throughout the region.
"I administer the same way that I played - head first and we'll worry about the consequences after."Fred Mellington
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