Local Legends

Local Legends: McLaren siblings selfless acts for the Thomson FNC community

Max and Gracey shared the Thomson FNC President's Award in 2023. Images: supplied.

Despite their young age, siblings Max and Gracey McLaren have contributed an immense amount to the Thomson Football Netball Club in a short time.

10-year-old Max plays junior football and netball for the Thomson Tigers (AFL Barwon) and has even represented Geelong at the U13 Victorian Netball Championships recently. On a seniors’ game day, you will find him running water for the reserves, seniors and women’s teams.

His most impressive contribution to his local community, and a timely reminder that June is Men’s Mental Health Month, is Max’s involvement in the Mullets for Mental Health fundraising campaign.

Max has been growing his hair since he was six years old with the odd trim. Max and his parents saw an advertisement for Mullets for Mental Health online and Max was immediately interested in becoming involved. He was motivated by his involvement with the senior footy players and thought it would be a great idea to create awareness around the club.

Max’s main goal with this fundraiser is to get the men around him talking about mental health. If he can encourage just one person to reach out and start a conversation, he will have achieved his goal.

Max recently shaved his head as he comes toward the end of his fundraising campaign, having raised nearly $3,000 for the Black Dog Institute.

Max has won the Thomson FNC President’s award twice now for his contributions to the club. Last year Max shared the honour with his older sister Gracey, who is equally as involved in the Thomson footy community. At only 12 years old, Gracey has played over 50 games of junior football for Thomson, and currently is focusing on her netball, playing in the U15 Monday night competition and the U13 or U15 competition on the weekend.

When she isn’t playing, Gracey is volunteering her time as water carrier for the women’s team on a Sunday or helping out with working on the gate or selling raffle tickets at home games.

Like Max, Gracey is selfless and kind beyond her years, and a few years ago she grew her hair down to her waist before cutting it all off and donating 43cm of hair to the Alopecia Foundation, to help create wigs for those who are unable to grow hair of their own.

Thomson FNC President Chris Scott said the McLaren siblings are pivotal members of the Thomson footy community with their contributions to the club culture far greater than they can probably comprehend.

“Being from a small suburb in a competitive football and netball town of Geelong, having these two products of our junior pathway is something the club is so proud of,” Scott said.

“They are both amazing kids with great energy and love for our club and I am so thankful to have them part of it. Max doing his fundraising and shaving his head for mental health is another example of how much these kids want to give back to others,” Scott said.

“I could not speak more highly of what the McLaren family brings to Thomson and they are great examples to all levels and sections of our proud club as to what it means to be a club person.”

Both Max and Gracey are an inspiration to all involved in the club, including their youngest sister Alisha who is playing her first season U9 football for Thomson this year at the age of seven.

AFL Victoria’s Local Legends initiative aims to recognise the local heroes who are the lifeblood of their local clubs and communities.

Whether it be a coach, player, umpire, local business owner, administrator or volunteer, AFL Victoria wants to celebrate the people who are the backbone of community football clubs. Community football clubs simply could not survive without those who are willing to show up each weekend and make sure that the game goes ahead, crowds are well fed, players are supported and success is enjoyed.

Nominees for the AFL Victoria Local Legends initiative can be anyone who is involved in a community football club in any capacity, whether it be paid or unpaid, directly related to the game or a behind-the-scenes super star, these legends are who make community football what it is.

Do you know someone with a great story like Max and Gracey? Nominate them now