A friendship formed eight years ago at South Adelaide has landed Tallangatta the prized scalp of an Ovens and Murray representative.
Forward Tom Johnson played with Hoppers’ coach Sam Livingstone at the SANFL club before linking back up at Wodonga in 2016.
“It’s been good fun to come all the way over here and enjoy playing footy with him,” Johnson said.
“It was a bit of a bugger when he left because we were both starting to play good football, but his family comes first, which is understandable.
“They’re a great family, pretty much a second family over here as well.”
Livingstone left 12 months ago to coach his home club.
“I saw Tom at South Adelaide and he was really raw and thought, ‘this kid’s going to be a superstar’, so I worked really hard with him and then obviously became good mates with him,” he said.
Johnson played for the O and M against Goulburn Valley in May, but then suffered a horror dislocated left ankle and broken leg against Yarrawonga a fortnight later.
“I’ve just been told I’ve only got a few years left after the ankle and the way the knee and the body’s going,” he said.
“I just thought I’d step back and try and enjoy my footy for the last couple of years, instead of pushing myself to the limit.”
The 26-year old had already had two operations on his left knee prior to last season.
Tallangatta finished eighth last season, but the addition of Johnson, along with Wodonga team-mates Bob Russell and Kaine Parsons, will rapidly improve its chances.
I’ve just been told I’ve only got a few years left after the ankle and the way the knee’s going.Tom Johnson
“It’s certainly tough, it’s hard to take players off the club that you love so much but, at the end of the day, it’s their decision, not mine” Livingstone said.
The Hoppers also have Rhett Thompson (Henty) and Glenn Nye (Barooga).