A Decade On: Mark Haynes

“There was something special going on and I just wanted to be part of it.”

Not only did Mark Haynes become “a part of it”, he emerged as one of the most important pieces of Subiaco’s premiership puzzle.

In 2004 he joined a Lions team that had just lost a wealth of experience.

For a variety of reasons David Sierakowski, Matt Connell, Tony Godden, David Haynes, David Lucas, Neil Marshall, Daniel Metropolis and Luke Toia had all departed Subiaco.

Experts tipped the young Lions to be the easy beats of 2004.

But by 2pm on Grand Final day the experts had been proved wrong as 22 Lions took their positions on Subiaco Oval in front of 22 thousand people.

Standing in the middle of the ground was a pocket-sized giant by the name of Alistair Picket who had 6 days earlier become a dual Sandover medalist.

On the interchange bench was a curly headed teenager who would break the Sandover votes record two seasons later.

Towering in the forward line was a goal-kicking machine named Brad Smith who would retire with four Bernie Naylor Medals.

In fact the side that beat Claremont by 48 points that day boasted three players who went on to become club champions at AFL level: Priddis at West Coast and David Mundy and Ryan Crowley at Fremantle.

By 5 o’clock the cup belonged to Subi and with names like those it’s no wonder.

But according to those in the club’s ‘inner sanctum’ during that golden period it’s the man affectionately known as ‘Des’ who’s most revered.

Remarkably Haynes, the 2006 Outridge Medalist, wasn’t even a target of the Lions off-season recruiting campaign that year.

In his own words he ‘tagged along’ with a couple of his Sandringham premiership teammates who had decided to head west.

“Subi really wanted David Robbins and they were also keen on Lachlan Oakley because Brad Smith had gone down in the 2003 grand final with an injury so Oakley was being recruited as back up so I just tagged along with my two mates.” Haynes said.

“They brought us over for a week before Christmas in 2003 and I just fell in love with the place… it was so professional in the way it was run. You could tell there was something special going on I just wanted to be part of it.”

Hayne’s was one of 6 Lions to play every game in 2004, his courageous and selfless brand of footy was celebrated within the four walls of Subiaco as he slipped under the radar of opposition teams.

In 2004 Haynes had more disposals per game than that season’s Sandover medalist, Pickett and tellingly he laid more tackles, recorded more chases and earned more free kicks than any other Lion.

He says he owes his stellar season to the way he and his teammates were coached by Peter German.

“There was certainly no secret to it, to any of it, we trained harder than any other club, we prepared better than any other club so in our eyes we deserved to win the flag.” Haynes said

“There was never any doubt in my mind that we would win that day, we knew if we put the pressure on them they would crumble so we did and they did.”

“My role that day was to swap with Ali Pickett in the middle, I’ve never seen anyone do the things he was doing that year.”

“He’s the best player I’ve ever seen, I never once saw him get tackled.”

Haynes says when he first arrived at the Lions what stood out was how well the club was run.

“It’s the most professional club I’ve been at. The weights program for example… we got there and Barbs  (Strength and Conditioning coach Matt Barber) had the boys doing squats and other exercises that we’d never done before, back at Sandringham we just did beach weights.” Haynes said

Haynes spent five years as a vital cog in the WAFL’s premier midfield and took home four premierships, adding them to the two he’d already claimed at Sandringham.

Haynes has drunk from more premiership cups than most and says helping to deliver one at Subiaco for the first time in 16 years was a buzz.

“To put it into perspective we won it on the Sunday and we didn’t stop celebrating until Thursday.”

“The real joy was winning it for the supporters and staff who had been there since 1988 waiting for it, it was great for us but even better for them.” Haynes said.

“We had a lot of good younger guys coming through and we were new to the club as well so we didn’t come with any pre-conceived ideas and we weren’t carrying any of that baggage that came with the previous finals losses so it was easier for us in that sense.”

Lions fans can catch up with Haynes and all the other heroes from 2004 at the ten year reunion scheduled for the 31st of August after Subiaco’s final home game of the season.

“Yeah I’m coming over for three nights for it and I cant wait, ten years has gone by so quick I just cant wait to see everyone.” Haynes said.

Click here to find out more information or to book phone Brooke on 992089999

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