Hardisty’s Circuitous Trip To Claremont

Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - 10:42 AM

By Ken Casellas

Growing up, Dec Hardisty had dreams of becoming a soccer star or an ice hockey champion.

Less than 12 years ago the 20-year-old Hardisty had never heard of Australian football.

Born in England of Canadian parents and spending seven years of his childhood in Cyprus, Hardisty has travelled a circuitous route to earn his stripes as a league footballer with the Claremont Tigers.

Now Hardisty is fully committed to making his mark in football. He became Claremont’s fourth league debutant this season when he played in a back pocket and excelled in beating experienced South Fremantle forward Blaine Johnson in the round-five match in Albany before he gave another outstanding performance in defence against Peel at Rushton Park last Saturday week.

“I’m really enjoying football,” he said. “It’s really fast and a lot more interesting than games like rugby; it’s multi-directional; it’s fantastic. My aim now is to play as many league games as I can and see where it takes me.

”I’m just doing my role for the team --- shutting down my opponent. That’s one of my biggest strengths, locking down my opponent and keeping him off the score sheet.”

Hardisty is also enjoying his time as a full-time student at the University of WA where he is a first-year architecture student after switching from an engineering course the previous year.

His father Paul was born in Toronto and his mother Heidi was from Winnipeg. “Dad had an environmental consulting agency and they moved to England more than 20 years ago,” Hardisty said.

Hardisty was born in Shepton Mallet, a small town south of Bristol, in January 1998 and ten months later the family moved to Cyprus and lived there for seven years. Dec and his elder brother Zac played soccer there and also went to ice hockey camps with the intention of playing ice hockey seriously when the family returned to Canada.

“The original plan was leave Cyprus and move back to Canada with Dad’s work,” said Dec. “But at the last minute, Dad sold his business to an engineering firm in Perth and we came to live in Western Australia --- and we’ve been here for almost 12 years.”

The family settled in Swanbourne where neighbours introduced the Hardistys to the great Australian game of football. Dec fell in love with the game and for several years played in under-age sides, mainly as a midfielder, for the Swanny Tigers and other junior clubs in Cottesloe and Claremont.

Dec also made his mark as a footballer and cricketer at Scotch College, even though he gave soccer another try in Year ten. He was a member of Scotch’s Darlot Cup winning side in Year 11 and was the side’s opening batsman and co-captain in his final year at school.

He played for the Scotch first 18 in the Alcock Cup competition as a defender in his final two years --- even though he excelled as a goalscoring striker in the soccer team in Year ten. A torn meniscus in his left knee required surgery and kept him out of action for much of the 2015 season before he joined the Claremont colts side the following year.

It was a great start to his career at Claremont. He finished sixth in the club’s fairest-and-best award and was a member of the side which came from behind to win the colts premiership, beating East Perth by 18 points.

Hardisty was chosen in the WAFL colts Team of the Year, but a meniscus tear in his right knee which required surgery halted his progress the following season. “I missed the first ten or 11 rounds and had to come back through the West Coast amateurs before resuming with the Claremont reserves,” he said.

The young man with three passports --- British, Canadian and Australian --- started this season in fine form with the reserves and gained an opportunity to break into the league side for the match against South Fremantle when in-form defender Fraser Gilbert was laid low with a hip injury.

He became the second Hardisty in the side, joining dynamic 22-year-old midfielder Jared Hardisty. “He’s pretty tough and gets in an under,” said Dec Hardisty. “He’s a really good guy, a real beauty.”