For those who’d instructed Geelong star Tyson Stengle in March 2021 that he’d be enjoying in an AFL grand closing simply 16 months later, he’d have scarcely believed you.
March 16, 2021 was the day Stengle had his contract with the Adelaide Crows torn up after a sequence of off-field incidents.
After being touted because the competitors’s subsequent Eddie Betts, at simply 22, Stengle appeared set to be one of many newest in a protracted line of ‘What if?’ gamers whose immense potential had been wasted.
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Along with his AFL dream in tatters, Stengle turned to the membership that had helped him initially forge a path into the large leagues: the Woodville-West Torrens Eagles within the SANFL.
Stengle had been a junior there earlier than being drafted by Richmond in 2017, and with Betts and his spouse Anna appearing as Stengle’s pseudo managers, the membership was more than pleased to have him again.
”We received him into the membership on the understanding that we have been getting him right into a structured setting the place he had employment and a daily routine, which was actually the important thing for him at that cut-off date in his life,” Eagles soccer director Dave Couzner instructed Broad World of Sports activities.
“He labored on the membership in a coaching capability within the soccer division and that was doing from match-day evaluation to placing all of the stats into the system. He labored closely with Jay Sheedy, the senior coach, to do all of that.
“It created the construction and routine for him to have the ability to play good footy and that was the entire objective of why we did it.”
Betts and his spouse’s position in Stengle’s life is not any secret, and it is no shock that Stengle has discovered his finest soccer when re-united with Betts at Geelong this season, the place he has blossomed into one of many AFL’s most damaging crumbing forwards.
“Having Eddie round on the membership is de facto good and helps me as an individual and as a footy participant on the sector as nicely,” Stengle instructed Broad World of Sports activities.
“Simply having that household vibe across the membership with him there helps me as nicely as a result of clearly I am away from Adelaide.”
Couzner discovered it onerous to place in phrases simply how pivotal the Betts household has been in Stengle getting his life again on monitor.
“They are not solely mentors, they’re nearly like dad and mom for Tyson. They’ve his finest pursuits at coronary heart,” he mentioned.
“In my dealings with Anna, Tyson’s wellbeing is at all times the primary level of dialog, footy is secondary, it at all times has been.
“To seek out individuals like that, they’re fairly uncommon in society. They do it behind the scenes as nicely, they don’t seem to be there for the accolades, they only actually look after the particular person.”
Whereas Stengle is admittedly “stoked” to be enjoying on the most important stage come Saturday, he mentioned the journey again to the highest hadn’t been simple.
When requested what he’d say if somebody instructed him 12 months in the past that he’d be enjoying in an AFL grand closing, he mentioned he’d “in all probability inform them they’re kidding themselves”.
“I did not even know if I used to be going to be on an inventory right now final yr. It is fairly superb to get right into a grand closing,” he recalled.
“It (being sacked by Adelaide) was fairly powerful. I needed to work on the footy membership I used to be enjoying at, they usually gave me a number of assist. I am unable to thank them sufficient, the Eagles footy membership.
“I used to be simply striving to play good footy and I used to be simply striving to win a premiership with them and we ended up doing that. That was my most important focus and the remainder I simply let the remainder type itself out.”
Couzner and the Eagles have been undoubtedly thrilled to get a expertise similar to Stengle via the door, however he pressured a very powerful side of the transfer on the time was to get some construction again within the troubled teenager’s life.
“We definitely wished him so we have been a really celebration, however our discussions with Anna and Eddie have been about the way it appeared for Tyson,” he mentioned.
“What have been we creating? If it was simply coming again to play footy, then that wasn’t the fitting factor for Tyson on the time.
“We would have liked to create the tradition behind him and we’ve got a fairly sturdy tradition on the Woodville-West Torrens footy membership the place he needed to are available in and match with that, and he did that with no points in any respect.”
5 months had elapsed between Stengle being charged by the AFL for conduct unbecoming in October 2020 and his Crows sacking in March 2021 and Couzner mentioned having his soccer future in flux for therefore lengthy had left Stengle “shattered” when he arrived on the Eagles.
Couzner had the chance to current Stengle his Eagles guernsey previous to the beginning of his SANFL journey final season, and says it took no time for the teenager to slot in.
“Simply to see the smile on his face, you possibly can see he felt part of the membership,” he recalled.
“He got here again in and slot in rather well and that is in all probability why he had the success he did that yr.
“He’s a kind of guys that is very quiet and shy and over time the extra you’re employed with him and the extra you speak to him, the higher he turns into.
“He’s an individual that depends on belief and if he trusts you you will get rather a lot out of him, if he would not, he can are usually very quiet and withdrawn.
“He positively would not promote himself and that is a very good high quality of Tyson.”
After a stellar season the place he helped the Eagles win a second consecutive SANFL premiership, Stengle was handed an AFL lifeline by Geelong, who by that time had employed none apart from Eddie Betts as an assistant.
It was the right match. Stengle has turned in a season for the ages, going from the state leagues to the AFL’s All-Australian group in his first yr again after kicking 49 targets in 24 appearances, together with three in final weekend’s preliminary closing win over Brisbane.
“I am not throughout each story within the AFL, but it surely have to be a superb one if it tops that one,” Geelong coach Chris Scott mentioned of Stengle’s redemption story.
“That (the redemption story) wasn’t a thought bubble every time we took him. That was a multi-year course of to make it possible for we might (not solely) give him a chance to revitalise his soccer profession … however to get (his) life again on monitor.
“That’s one factor I take a look at with the best way our membership does issues and I am simply stuffed with admiration for it. We have their again.
“If it did not work out for him, we’d’ve completed the whole lot we might to make it possible for his life was higher for having been at Geelong.
“It is good when the soccer stuff works out … however there are some issues that Geelong individuals ought to be happy with that we attempt to not promote an excessive amount of.
“It is one factor to say, ‘I believe this might work’, it is one other factor to place the individuals round him to make it possible for we comply with via.
“We will say hand on coronary heart for those who come to our membership, the soccer won’t work out, however you will be higher for it.
“The credit score ought to go to Tyson, let’s be clear on that, he is simply been excellent.
“The lesson for me is, you look across the league and also you see and listen to issues across the comp and I believe individuals rush to judgement manner an excessive amount of.”
On account of his success on the membership and lovable persona, Stengle has turned the Woodville-West Torrens right into a Geelong supporter-base.
“We could not be any extra proud as a membership,” Couzner mentioned.
“I believe everybody on the Woodville-West Torrens membership goes for Geelong on the weekend.
“We simply wish to see Tyson succeed. He is a incredible lad and he is an enormous a part of our membership. Though he is over at Geelong, he is nonetheless a favorite son of ours.
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“We’re simply praying that he will get some success as a result of he actually does deserve it. He is a child that is put within the work and he deserves the whole lot that is coming his manner if he wins the flag.
“His expertise’s at all times been there, it is the stuff he is needed to do off the sector that makes him a high quality particular person now.”
Couzner admitted the membership hopes to have Stengle again enjoying at some point, however accepted the truth that that day could also be over a decade away if he retains up his present kind.
“You already know what? We might be the primary ones to say hold doing it as a result of we love watching him play,” he mentioned.
“He is a child that works onerous at his craft and it is simply nice to see him get the alternatives.”
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