Dirk Heinz – 200 Games
It is difficult to quantify a person’s contribution to a football club. A traditional metric for players is to count games and celebrate milestones. But this tends to over-simplify the devotion, commitment and genuine love players have for their club, and that clubs have for their players.
Nowhere is this more apt than for Uni Blues’ Dirk Heinz. For while Heinz will stride the field for the 200th time this weekend in a Blues jumper, his contribution to the club has been far, far greater.
Instead of games, another way to measure a person’s contribution to a club is in time. 13 years have passed since then Under 19 Coach Tim Giles parked Dirk at centre half back against St Bernard’s. A young Heinz was dubbed “The Markologist” as he proceeded to grab everything that entered his vicinity.
“Intercept grabs, contested pack marks and the odd diving chest mark. He had both ends of JJ Holland Park covered,” is how great friend and fellow Blue Matt Torney describes Heinz’s marking feats.
Another teammate, Tom Rankin, also thoroughly enjoyed Heinz’s marking abilities.
“As a midfielder, racking up stats with Heinzy in the team was a piece of cake. Makes for a good day when the guy who takes 10+ marks a game says ‘just run past and I’ll handball it to you’,” Rankin recalled.
Perhaps an unorthodox method of measuring a player’s worth is by counting the number of nicknames. Although a little unusual, the number of nicknames potentially represents the value that player has in his teammates’ hearts.
Heinzy, Diggler, Derek, Dick, CJ, Big Cat, Danny Tran, Domingo El Casillas, Four Goal Heinz, the Settler, Sven. Although some were self-appointed, this catalogue of nicknames point to a personality that others flock to. Together with his brother Jack, Dirk has entertained his teammates with impersonations that create an upbeat, vibrant and happy club.
Lovable, selfless, genuinely caring, riotously funny, are just some of the words others around the Blues have used to describe Heinz.
“Dirk has always had the respect of the playing group,” Torney said. “He is a friend to many and his efforts to try and keep the club’s spirits up especially during times of disappointment have been valued by all.”
From Heinz’s point-of-view, it is not all a one-way street. When asked about the highlights of his 13 year commitment to Blues, Heinz was frank about the relationships he had formed.
“The friends that I made, pure and simple,” Heinz said. “Don’t get me wrong, there have been some great footballing memories too, but they don’t compare to the off-field memories and friendships I’ve had with friends and supporters outside the 2 hours of football on a Saturday.”
The number of injuries footballers sustain are also a measure of a player. In this case, Heinz is no exception. Uni Blues’ president Joe Sturrock was surprised that Heinz made it to 200 games.
“It wasn’t because I didn’t think he was good enough, but more because of the way he plays and the fearless nature with which he goes about his footy,” Sturrock said. “I didn’t think his body would have lasted.”
Rankin commented on his ability to relentlessly run backwards into packs and still come up with the ball. Torney concurs.
“There were times when Heinzy would fly blindly back into a pack, or dive on a ball that he had no right to compete for, that I feared for his life,” Torney said. “But sure enough he would emerge, battered and bruised, but with ball in hand.”
But, as ever, Heinz showed his commitment to the cause with hours in the gym developing resilience necessary to last all these years.
An easy way to calculate value is assigning a monetary value. In Dirk’s case, $50.
Heinzy’s grandfather, the late Jack Coventry, would watch Dirk play more often than not for the Uni Blues. In Jack’s later years his eyesight began to fail. But it mattered not as he still took up position in the Pavvy to listen to the sounds of the game that his two grandsons, Dirk and Jack, were participating in.
After each game Dirk would be slipped a $50 note by his grandfather so that he could enjoy the night “with the boys”. This beautiful and endearing moment speaks volumes for the type of person Dirk is and the type of family he comes from. It also speaks to the impact Dirk and his family had on Uni Blues and vice versa.
On the topic of family, perhaps the most unusual method for measuring Dirk’s contribution to Uni Blues is in sausage rolls. Not goals mind you, literally sausage rolls. The Heinz family, led ably by grandmother Eunice, have generously donated over 28,000 homemade sausage rolls to the Blues’ infamous afternoon teas over the past 13 years. An incredible number.
But this unusual measurement risks under-valuing the contribution Dirk and his family have made to Uni Blues.
Dirk’s parents, Karin and Tony, have donated an extraordinary amount to the Blues. Both are a fixture at games with Tony often called upon to put his general surgical skills in practice. Karin has been a tireless contributor who never asks for a thing in return. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see her working the canteen one minute, rubbing shoulders with players the next, and catching up with her many friends a few moments later, such is her devotion to her sons and the club they play for.
“Dirk has been one of the best exponents of what it is to be a Uni Blues footballer,” Torney says. “At a club where community and contribution are king, Dirk has been peerless.”
Club president Sturrock agrees with this assessment of Heinz.
“Dirk is one of the best clubmen that I have known in my time at the Blues,” Sturrock said. “He is never one to sit back and let others do the work. More often than not he is the first to put his hand up and organise things off the field.”
Heinz has regularly organised the club’s social calendar. He has been MC at the Blues Ball on a number of occasions with his good friend and teammate Torney. He has sat on countless committees and offered his legal expertise when required. When asked about his contribution to Blues, Heinz felt that he had received as much in return.
“I just contributed in whatever way I thought that I could,” Heinz said. “When he was captain, Matt Torney once told the playing group that whatever you put in at Uni Blues on and off the field, you will get back in spades. That’s certainly been true for me.”
By any measure, Dirk Heinz’s contribution to University Blues has been profound. As he takes to the field this weekend for the 200th time in Blue and Black, he should be applauded long and loud. Not just for his games tally or his efforts on field, but for what he has given and continues to give for his beloved football club.