Ack Weyman only missed two games of his son, Michael’s, rugby league career in Australia.
This was a fair effort considering Michael was a schoolboy prodigy, captaining the Australian schoolboys before playing 141 NRL games for the Raiders and the Dragons. He also played in four Origins and a test for Australia.
After a stint with Hull in the UK, Michael returned home to win a couple of premierships with the club where he played his junior league games, the Moruya Sharks, featuring Mick’s brother Tim as the captain-coach.
Fittingly, in the only two games in Australia in which Ack wasn’t physically by his side, Mick was sent off and suspended for six weeks for punching Titans forward Daniel Conn in 2008. And in 2012, with Ack absent, Mick did his anterior cruciate ligament requiring a knee reconstruction.
Naturally enough, Mick was keen to spend as much time as possible with his dad as a thank you for the years Ack spent supporting Mick with his football.
Mick remembers fondly the effort that his dad went to: “When I first started with the Raiders he used to drive me up to Canberra three times a week before I moved there in 2001.”
Ack was the one Mick confided in as he considered an offer from the Dragons.
Mick had endured six frustrating seasons with the Raiders as he battled injury. It had many wondering if he would fulfil the potential he had shown as a young player coming through the ranks.
In the end, after 47 games with the Raiders and with his career at the crossroads, he joined Wayne Bennett at the Dragons. Needless to say, he fulfilled his potential. He played 94 games, winning a premiership in 2010, and as sure as night follows day, Ack was there.
In Bennett, Mick discovered a second father figure, and the respect was mutual. Bennett said at the time: “I’d have him in any team I coached. I wouldn’t have any hesitation.”
Mick played his final game for the Dragons in 2013 before heading to Hull, and for the first time in his career he didn’t have Ack by his side for every game.
They were reunited when he returned to play a couple of seasons with Moruya and the bond was as strong as it had ever been.
Despite Ack passing away late last year, the emotional bond continues. “I am so proud of my dad and I miss him every day,” says Mick.
Shortly, that bond will be immortalised in bronze.
There is already a statue of Mick adjacent to the Moruya War Memorial Pool. The statue has become a barometer of community. When Moruya flooded, Mick’s statue donned a snorkel, and with COVID-19, the bronze face of Michael Weyman was furnished with a mask.
Now, following a community fundraising effort that brought in $40,000, Ack will also be honoured in bronze.
Tuross Head artist Terry Fuller, who also created Mick’s statue, has completed much of Ack’s bronze bust. Mick’s already a fan.
“Dad’s statue looks amazing,” says Mick, “It is so much like him. Terry Fuller has done a fantastic job.”
The plan will see Mick’s statue moved from its current location to the appropriately named Ack Weyman Oval, named after Ack as he was the driving force behind the oval’s development in the 1980s. It was built to such a standard that the Raiders played a trial there in the late 1990s.
A third of Ack’s ashes have been scattered at the ground.
The statues of Mick and Ack will be alongside each other as they were for so many years in life and family and in football.
“To have my statue alongside dad’s is a huge honour. I would be nothing without the support and guidance he showed me throughout his life.”
The statues will be unveiled in March next year when the Moruya Sharks run on to the Ack Weyman Oval to play the Boorowa Rovers. This follows from the Sharks and Rovers inaugural Ack Weyman Memorial Shield game, which was played in March this year.
It’s a perfect reminder of the years that Ack took busloads of Moruya juniors to country areas, such as Boorowa, to play rugby league.
His influence within the community is hard to quantify.
“Dad was a father figure to so many people around Moruya,” says Mick. “He took everyone in and treated them as he would his own. People used to call him the ‘mother hen’ as he was more worried about everyone else.”
It’s hard to avoid the influence of the Weyman family in Moruya. Apart from the statues and the oval, the Adelaide Hotel is a virtual shrine to Mick’s career with the jumpers from his football years on display, including his 2010 premiership jersey.
So how does Mick feel about the public display of affection the town has for him and his family?
“I used to feel a bit funny looking at my statue especially when it was first built,” remembers Mick, “I thought Terry did a great job but I was a tad embarrassed. I got paid well to do what I did throughout my career and there were so many people that deserved a statue more than me but when I see people look at it I feel proud.”
These days Mick is very much the family man, coaching his son’s junior team with the Moruya Sharks, while working as the general manager of Cameron’s Hardware.
Like his father, Mick is committed to the community. Fittingly, they will be reunited in bronze.