400 Club

Legend: Morwell East veteran Darren Tatterson breaks through the banner for his 400th game.





PLAYING 400 games of football is no easy task.

It takes years of commitment, effort and the toll it can take on your body is more than you think, even at local level.

Morwell East Football-Netball Club’s Darren Tatterson recently reached that exact feat, capping off a 29-year period with one last milestone.

On Saturday, July 15, Tatterson walked out for game number 400, lining up for Morwell East’s reserves as they faced Mirboo North.

“It probably hasn’t really hit at the moment,” Tatterson said.

“I know looking from the outside, watching someone else do it, yeah it’s quite an achievement, it’s sort of surreal to be honest.

“It makes you think how long you’ve been at it.”

Tatterson was surprised that he was able to get this far into a footballing career, stating it was playing football simply that kept him going.

“My will was just to play football basically, I kept enjoying it and still managed to play a role, so it just happened,” Tatterson added.

The Morwell East reserves were able to get the job done on Tatto’s special day, defeating Mirboo North by 39 points at home.

“We struggled a bit for three quarters, then ran away with it in the fourth,” Tatterson said.

“I managed to sneak into the best, whether that was a friendly thing for them to do I don’t know.

“It was a special last quarter in the end, knowing we were going to win, it was quite enjoyable.”

Tatterson ended up kicking a goal, capping off a special milestone.

Celebrations went long into the night, with “plenty of drinks and stories” floating around during the evening.

Hawthorn great Robert DiPierdomenico was in attendance on the day and spoke as a guest speaker, only making the day just as big on Sponsor’s and Life Member’s Day at Morwell East FNC.

Tatterson’s father Wayne used to play football, but he wasn’t so keen on getting Darren into football.

Wayne played in Morwell East’s 1979 senior premiership, so the club was well-and-truly held close to the family.

“He didn’t want us to burn out and finish too young, obviously he was wrong about that,” Tatterson said.

Tatterson played baseball in under 13s, before trying football at the age of 14.

“It was just something that I always wanted to do, from as young as I can remember,” Tatterson said.

Tatterson’s footballing career began playing for the Morwell Tigers (Gippsland League), and at the age of 19 he got his first taste of open-age football, playing in the Tigers’ reserves side.

“I was a bit of a slow starter, skill wise, it took me a bit of time to mature,” Tatterson said.

Halfway through the 1994 season, Tatterson made the switch to Morwell East, thinking he would return to the Tigers the following year, but never did, in fact he never left the Hawks.

Twenty-nine years later, he still remains a Hawk.

Now 48-years-old, ‘Tatto’ not only became the first person at Morwell East to reach 400 games, but also still holds the senior games record of 254 games.

Tatterson holds memories of his past milestones close to his heart.

“All of the milestones from 200 (games) onward were quite an achievement, because I think there was only four (people) that had played 200 senior games prior to me,” Tatterson said.

“To reach that mark where there’s other blokes I look at as legends, was quite special to me.

“Obviously premierships in reserves too, just playing finals football in all grades.”

Tatterson played in back-to-back winning Morwell East reserves premierships in 2010 and 2011, receiving a mention in the best in the 2011 Grand Final.

The 2010 and 2011 flags were the final two pieces to Morwell East reserves’ four-peat, which won from 2008 to 2011.

Tatterson also played in the 2012 Mid Gippsland reserves Grand Final for the Hawks against Newborough, but lost to the Bulldogs by 13 points.

Nonetheless, he is certainly not short of any finals experience.

Tatterson’s most fond memories comes from when he would reunite with school mates at Morwell East.

“I’ve been able to play with my really close mates from school, that was definitely a big highlight with good memories,” Tatterson said.

Tatterson nailed it down to the the friendships that he developed that kept him at Morwell East for 29 years.

“I had not just people I played with, but spectators, people working behind the scenes,” he said.

“I sort of grew up there … it was like a second family to me, just never really crossed my mind (to leave).”

It’s fair to say that any football club would have gone through significant changes over 29 years.

Morwell East celebrates its 50-year anniversary next month, so plenty of reflection is to be had in the coming weeks.

“The planning and preparation, game plans and that sort of thing that go into playing now, whereas it used to be ‘get ball, kick ball towards your end’ back when I started playing,” Tatterson explained.

“There’s a lot more professionalism than there was when we first started.”

With good news comes some saddening news, as Tatterson revealed he intends to hang up the boots at the end of this season.

Travelling away and back for work and spending time away from his family has expectedly become too much of a struggle.

“I’ve got two games left, so I’ll finish out the season and then I’ll pull the pin, that’s it,” Tatterson said.

“It’s no secret … no one will probably believe me anyway because I’ve said it a few times over the years.”

Despite not planning to be on the field next season, Tatterson hopes to continue to be around the club whenever he decides to make his return to Ronald Reserve.