The familiar black and gold jersey will be replaced by a purple strip, but wing Chris Pyne will take the same heart and soul effort into his 200th first grade game for Cessnock Goannas on Saturday.
Pyne’s focus as it has been throughout his career will be team first as the Goannas take on South Newcastle in the fundraising day for the Cessnock Relay For Life.
A win is the first priority for Cessnock Team of the Century member Pyne as he and his teammates try to keep their finals hopes alive.
“We pretty much have to win every game from now to make the finals,” Pyne, who has played in five losing grand finals teams, said ahead of his milestone game.
“It’s pretty exciting to think about 200 games, it’s not one of those things that crosses your mind until you start picking up a few milestones along the way.
“It’s going to be special to have my son Manny Roy and wife Kiera there for the game. Kiera has been so supportive and my little bloke just loves the footy, I think they really have made me excited about the day.”
An emerging youngster who made his first-grade debut in 2003, but was not part of the grand final-winning side, Pyne has been in five grand final losing sides 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
If the Goannas can make the finals, this could be the year to change things.
“Any one of six teams could win the grand final this year. I have never played in such an even competition.”
Pyne’s career includes Newcastle and NSW Country representative team honours and is looking like continuing into next season.
Pyne, 32, had last season out of the game to pursue his interest in body building, but returned this year and has loved every moment of it.
“I think the Goeys are in for a big few years, there are so many promising youngsters coming through the ranks,” he said.
“It’s great playing with them, although a bit strange when I realise I’m now the wise head directing the young tearaways.
“I thought about chucking it in waking up after the Maitland game two weeks ago when I was feeling the aches and pains.
“I had just finished telling Kiera that’s it, when the phone rang and it was the next year’s coach (Steve Kidd).
“I got off the phone and Kiera said I was beaming like a kid, so I reckon I’ll be back next year and beyond.”
Pyne said it had been a pleasure playing with the Goannas and representing Cessnock over the past 13 years.
“They are such a close-knit bunch, the whole town gets behind the club. It’s been a pleasure playing here.”
It’s a big night for the Goannas on Saturday with the fundraising day for Relay For Life followed by the annual Black and Gold Ball.
One of the specially-made jerseys has been signed by local league legends Matthew and Andrew Johns, and will be auctioned off at the Black and Gold Ball.
All four grades will wear the purple strip and the club will donate $10 per jersey to the relay.
There will also be a bucket drop at the game.
Under-19s will kick off at 10.50am, with the main game at 3pm.
Entry is free for anyone wearing Relay For Life attire.
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