HAVING survived three heart attacks, a triple bypass and a transplant, Lance Mann admits it’s “pretty awesome” to be celebrating his 80th birthday today.
The Albury sporting great, who won the Stawell Gift and played football for Essendon, took time to reflect on the achievement during a gathering with family and friends on the weekend.
“It’s pretty awesome really considering all the things that have gone wrong with me in that time,” he said.
“It’s been a turbulent ride.”
Mr Mann, who is also a former Albury footballer, suffered his first heart attack at his workplace in Melbourne when he was just 45.
He then had another heart attack just six months later and a third after he and his family, including wife Margaret, moved to Albury in 1977.
In 1983, Mr Mann underwent a triple bypass which he was told would last for only five years.
A heart transplant in 1992 resolved the issue once and for all.
Mr Mann said every one of the days since his first heart attack, and leading up to his 80th birthday, has been a blessing.
“I used to wake up and say this was a bonus,” Mr Mann said.
“It might sound funny, but by crikey when you’ve got something like that and you’ve got to put up with it, it’s a different thing altogether.”
Mr Mann played 80 matches for Essendon including the 1951 grand final, and won the Morris Medal while playing with the Albury Tigers in 1956.
In between, Mr Mann managed to win the Stawell Gift in 1952.
His greatest joy now is his five children, three grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.
Mr Mann is showing no signs of slowing down, but says he is struggling to come to terms with his eight decades.
“Even today I don’t think for one minute that I’m blooming 80 years of age,” he said.
“I saw myself on TV (on Friday) and I said I can’t believe I look that bloody old.”