'Raiders made me the man I am today' | Jack Di Mizio hits 100th senior game with club
JACK Di Mizio says today isn’t about him.
While the Wodonga Raiders’ captain is chuffed to be bringing up his 100th senior match, the star backman wants the milestone to be savoured by the people who helped him when he walked into Birallee Park as a 17-year-old.
Di Mizio was left to fend for himself when his family moved to Melbourne and has never forgotten the Raiders faithful who got behind him in his times of need.
“I was out on my own then and the club was always there for me when I needed it,” Di Mizio said.
“They supported me from day one and made me the man I am today.
“The club has been like a parent to me.
“Playing 100 games is a big achievement, but it’s a credit to the club more than anything else.
“I’m just happy I have been able to give something back.”
After playing his junior football with Kiewa-Sandy Creek, Di Mizio followed good mates Michael Thompson and Sam Livingstone to the Raiders and played his first senior match in the final home and away round of the 2007 season against Corowa-Rutherglen.
His first senior coaches Brendan Way and Paul Twycross immediately liked what they saw in the dashing youngster.
“He was a really likeable kid and had massive potential from day one,” Way said.
“I remember thinking he would play 200 really good games.
“The footy club has been good to him and Jack’s been good to the footy club.
“I reckon his next 100 could be as good as anyone who has played for the club.
“Some players get ahead of themselves in the Ovens and Murray but Jack is a young bloke who always stops and says g’day and I have nothing but respect for him.”
That very respect was the catalyst behind Di Mizio being elevated to captain as a 23-year-old by Ken Stevenson.
With the Raiders being through more lows than highs in his 99 matches, the Ovens and Murray representative has been forced to play just about every position on the ground.
“I guess I have been a bit of a Mr Fix It over the years,” he said.
“‘Lambo’ (Corey Lambert) played me in every position on the ground and then Ken came in and put me in the backline where I have probably found my niche.”
Di Mizio even found himself in the ruck during Lambert’s time at the club and picked up three votes in the Morris Medal playing against Tiger pair Ben Dower and Jamarl O’Sullivan.
He considers changing his name from Melrose to Di Mizio as one of his biggest achievements at Birallee Park.
While it caused confusion among supporters and players throughout the Ovens and Murray and endless paperwork, it meant everything to him to share the same name as his father, Mario, who died suddenly in 2005, aged in his mid-40s.
“It’s something that was important to me,” he said.
“There was a bit of confusion for a while but it was well worth it.
“It’s something I had wanted to do for a while.”
While Di Mizio had a taste of finals action earlier in his career, he is desperate to lead Wodonga Raiders back into the top-five under the coaching of Daryn Cresswell.
A win against Myrtleford at McNamara Reserve today would go a long way towards stitching up a spot.
“There is a real belief in the side that if we play our best anything is possible,” he said.
“‘Cressa’ and his professionalism has been great for the club.
“He was in the mix for an AFL job at one stage and you can see why.”
Article courtesy of the Border Mail