Footy stars pay it forward

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Peter SweeneyMidwest Times
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Harry Taylor, back row, second from left, and Josh Kennedy, back row, third from left, in the Northampton under-12s of 1998 coached by Harry Taylor Sr.
Camera IconHarry Taylor, back row, second from left, and Josh Kennedy, back row, third from left, in the Northampton under-12s of 1998 coached by Harry Taylor Sr. Credit: Supplied.

Phil Nelson, 67, was a latecomer to teaching, not starting until he was in his 40s.

But the kids at Binnu loved him. So did the folk of Northampton, where he lived, with his wife Morag and children Leo, Jack, Karl and Heidi.

Now Northampton and environs — with two of their favourite footballing sons — are giving back to Mr Nelson.

On October 11, Mr Nelson fell dawn a set of stairs while visiting family in Canada. He and his wife had made a mercy dash there from Perth in July to be by Karl’s side. Karl was on life support following an horrific car accident.

The Nelsons had originally planned to go in August and stay until October, for the birth of their first grandchild, Jett.

West Coast star forward Josh Kennedy.
Camera IconWest Coast star forward Josh Kennedy. Credit: AFL Photos
Geelong’s versatile defender Harry Taylor.
Camera IconGeelong’s versatile defender Harry Taylor. Credit: AFL Photos

Mr Nelson sustained a major head injury in his fall. He was stabilised in a local hospital and airlifted to Calgary, where he was in intensive care for 10 days and later in a trauma ward.

When Mrs Nelson contacted the insurance company to make arrangement for a “medevac” back to Australia, the insurers told her the cover she had taken out, despite being for multi-trips, would not cover them because they had not returned to Australia within 30 days.

Mr Nelson’s daily costs in hospital were in the thousands of dollars and his wife was told these costs and ones of getting him home wouldn’t be covered.

A Perth friend started a GoFundMe page, which has raised more than half of the $200,000 target.

Mr Nelson is back home in Perth, but requires round-the-clock care.

“I cannot believe what the people from Northampton and Binnu have done for us,” Morag Nelson said.

“It’s tough times on the farms and so many people are battling, but they have put their hands in their pockets and given.”

Now there is more to come.

As kids, Josh Kennedy and Harry Taylor kicked for the same town and team. As adults, they kick for different sides, but the bond of friendship linked through football remains.

And just days into the new year, the Northampton products will be on the same team again.

The football superstars will headline a sportsman’s night at Horrocks on Friday, January 3 — with all proceeds going to Mr Nelson.

The function is close to a sell-out.

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