by Greg Blake
It would be thoroughly fitting for our very own ‘flame-haired Scot’, Sean Ellis, to hit the 150-game mark as an Alexander Warrior when Heidelberg United head to Avenger Park to take on Avondale this Saturday. For a player who has produced many massive moments, the last time he played at this ground – in 2019 – Ellis produced undoubtedly his most important moment whilst wearing the yellow and black.
Avondale had already become a recurring arch-rival in the rise and rise of Ellis, since the now 31 year-old from Fort William in Scotland came to Olympic Village via the Goulburn Valley Suns. Ellis debuted his subliminal left leg in a 0-6 smashing at the hands of South Melbourne Hellas in round one of 2016. Five weeks later Ellis scored the first of his 50-plus club goals in a 3-0 rout of Avondale and he was a key figure in leading Heidelberg to its 2018 grand final win over the Avengers.
And then there was 2019, the year when Ellis helped re-ignite a dying flame and the legendary ‘Cardiac Kids’ era ended with the most audacious run for the Premiers Plate in memory, culminating in an uncharacteristically scrappy but oh-so-memorable ‘Seanie’ winner in a come-from-behind 3-2 victory at Avenger Park.
But that goal with 93 minutes and 14 seconds on the clock is only part of the story. Ellis had only scored once from May 27 to July 19 that year as he and the Warriors fumbled through a very lean spell and an ugly late season Monday night loss at lowly Kingston suggested season just about cooked.
From that point on the Warriors needed to be perfect and win five from five on the road and hope that everything else fell their way. Coming off a five-day break Heidelberg pulled off a stunning 3-0 triumph at Bentleigh, with Ellis grabbing the sealer. He scored the opener a week later at Dandenong City, secured that remarkable 3-2 win at Avondale and he opened the scoring at South Melbourne on the final day of the season to seal the title once and for all.
That five-week run was surely Ellis and the ‘Cardiac Kids’ finest hour, but hardly Ellis’ only special moment. He’s given us way too many to mention. Grab some popcorn and enjoy some of the down-the-ground clips of the FFA Cup game against Perth a few years back for starters. Sensational Sean in scintillating touch. Just wow!
Ellis’ 150th elevates him to statistical greatness at Heidelberg. In terms of NPL level games played, top five in goals scored and goals-per-game average, trophies won and most goals in an NPL game – by netting five in an 8-0 clobbering of hapless North Geelong in 2017. But stats and Sean are uncomfortable bedfellows. There is no mathematical equation to describe that elegant Ellis mix of instinct and touch and sometimes a simple dash of just perfect.
That’s the thing about the canny red head. When Ellis calls time on his days at Catalina Street we won’t be recalling the numbers as much as the moments he’s given us. The spine-tingling, the magical, the majestic. The anticipation as Ellis stands remote and alone, trademark hands on hips as he measures up a set piece. The thrill as he winds up into a dancing, jinking, balking run into the penalty box. I remember calling a game at Dandenong Thunder in which Ellis yet again produced something special and I ended up saying some crap about his goal being a gift and wished we could wrap up the moment at taking it home to give to the kids at Christmas.
Having said that, on reflection Sean Ellis has given us plenty of those special gifts over the journey. As he approaches a massive milestone of 150 games, I reckon I’ve seen just about all his previous 149 outings for the club and I’m grateful for having done so. Thanks for the memories, Sean, and may there be many more to come.