Vale Sean Wight
Thursday, June 30 2011 @ 01:05 pm ACST
Contributed by: Troy Thompson
We have learnt the sad news that Sean Wight passed away this morning at the age of 47. Scottish born Wight successfully made the transition from Gaelic football in Ireland to Aussie rules along with Jim Stynes at the Melbourne Football Club.
He was scouted by the Melbourne Football Club's Ron Barassi and Barry Richardson on a visit to Ireland in 1982. Wight was brought to Australia in 1985 and played 150 games for the club before retiring in 1995. His successful transition to become a top level backman has its legacy in the current day Irishmen playing with AFL clubs.
Our sympathies to his family.
Following is a statement from the Melbourne Football Club.
The Melbourne Football Club farewells Sean Wight, who passed away this morning after a short battle with cancer, family and friends by his side. We pay tribute to his fighting strength, and will forever remember his commitment to the game, and his story, which is at the heart of the Melbourne Football Club.
Melbourne CEO, Cameron Schwab, said, ‘This is a very sad time for Sean’s family and the Melbourne Football Club. To lose a great champion, a true pioneer, and a man of great courage at such a young age is both tragic and a great shock. Our love and support go to his mother Peggy and sisters Fiona and Gwen. Theirs is the saddest loss.’
Sean Wight, along with Jim Stynes, was part of the infamous ‘Irish Experiment’, although Wight was actually Scottish by birth.
Wight was the pioneer of the scheme, brought back to Australia by Barry Richardson and Ron Barassi. Wight arrived in the country on Grand Final Day, 1982, having had the advertisement about the scheme passed on to him just two months before by an aunt who thought he might be interested. Before this, his only encounter with the game had been through watching it on television.
Having played in an Under 19s premiership in 1983, Wight made his senior debut in Round Eight, 1985. It was the first of his 150 senior games to 1995, and the springboard for a career that saw him play in the 1987 and 1989 night flags, be named All Australian in 1987, and represent Victoria in 1988, as well as playing in the Grand Final in the same season. There would have been many more games, had it not been for serious injuries, including two knee reconstructions, the first before he even played a league game.
Blessed with great athleticism and a phenomenal spring, Wight made an immediate mark on the competition. One of his most lasting memories was of having Tony Lockett as his first opponent in a senior game, out at Waverley in 1985. Wight, who was made a Life Member of the Club in 1994, and who also served as a Director upon retirement, was named as one of Melbourne’s ‘150 Heroes’ in June 2008.
Teammate and captain Garry Lyon paid tribute to Wight, saying, ‘Sean was a genuine trailblazer on and off the field. He played with enormous courage and conducted himself with enormous integrity. He had a wonderful moral compass that I only now, truly appreciate. He will be sadly missed but always remembered.’
His statements were supported by Robert Flower, who said, ‘Sean’s life was always of the highest integrity. He was honest and tough, both and off the field, and to the last minute of his life.’
Chris Connolly, the Club’s GM Football and a teammate of Wight’s, echoed the sentiments of all, saying, ‘Sean was a wonderful person; always positive, always encouraging, always caring. Sean took on one of the most significant challenges in the history of our game and become one of the greats.’
Guernsey No. 27
Heritage No. 1072
1985 – 1995
150 games, 63 goals
1987 and 1989 Night Premierships
All Australian 1987
1988 Grand Final
Interstate Representative 1988
MFC Life Member 1994
MFC Director 1996-1997
MFC Hall of Fame Inductee 2008
150 ‘Hero’, 2008
The Herald Sun file photo below shows Wight and Stynes in their younger days at Melbourne.
In a statement fromt the AFL, Cheif Executive Andrew Demetriou said “On behalf of the AFL, I want to pass on my condolences to Sean’s family and all his friends and former teammates at the Melbourne Football Club during this difficult time.... As someone who played against him, Sean was a very formidable opponent. In recent times, the whole football community has been touched by the tremendous courage he showed as he battled cancer.”