Loss drives Rams’ final effort

Zach RelphCountryman
Jessica Bennell and her son, Carter, 2, hold a photo of her late partner Mark Warmdean.
Camera IconJessica Bennell and her son, Carter, 2, hold a photo of her late partner Mark Warmdean. Credit: Mogens Johansen

The tragic death of a young footballer and wool presser during a midweek training session has been attributed as the catalyst to Mukinbudin Rams’ heroic 2018 premiership feat.

Classy midfielder Mark Warmdean, the son of Rams life member Mark Warmdean Sr, collapsed and died while training at Mukinbudin Town Oval on May 24, shocking the wool and grain district.

Warmdean underwent heart surgery to rectify a leaking aorta in 2016 and returned to the Rams this year, after missing last season while recovering from the procedure.

The Central Wheatbelt Football League fixture the 22-year-old father was training for, set to be against the Bencubbin Demons, was abandoned and declared a draw.

The family are still waiting on a coroner’s report to determine the exact cause of death.

With the Rams electing to have Warmdean’s beloved No.6 embroidered on each guernsey for the remainder of the season, the club secured a grand final berth against league leaders Bencubbin on August 25.

Mukinbudin entered the deciding term facing a five-point deficit, with coach and shearing contractor Steve Paterson rallying the side to a 12.11 (83) to 8.11 (59) win for the late midfielder.

“It was a shocking death, but it really bonded the players,” Paterson, who worked alongside Warmdean the day before and the day he died, said.

“We received so much support from the opposition teams and the town itself.

“Football and the Mukinbudin football club were a big part of Marky’s life.”

Warmdean’s partner Jessica Bennell said Mukinbudin’s premiership success would be treasured by the family, including his daughter Meliah, 3, son Carter, 2, and stepson Tayn, 5.

“The premiership really meant a lot to me and the kids because the footy team meant a lot to him,” she said.

“Every week after he passed, the team played for him.

“The grand final really got my heart racing, but halfway through the last quarter I knew they weren’t going to let go — it was something special.”

The Rams’ rising star award has been named after Warmdean, with emerging talent Sonny King snaring the inaugural honour.

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