Thar’s emotional debut

Connor Thar. Picture Belinda Vitacca Photography.

Tara Murray

Two years ago football was the last thing on the mind of young Werribee star Connor Thar.

A standout in the 2018 NAB League season, Thar missed out on being drafted and signed with his local Victorian Football League side, Werribee.

By his own admission, he wasn’t playing great football in 2019 and was lining up for Werribee Districts in the Western Region Football League.

What happened next not only changed his football career, but his life after he almost lost a kidney.

“I was close to not playing football again,” he said.

“I ruptured my kidney. I got tackled and was kneed in the tackle. I had a feeling something was wrong.

“I went to the toilet after the game and I was pissing blood. I was in so much pain and started vomiting.

“I went to hospital that night. It was a pretty couple of scary weeks. I was really sick and I had to have a couple of surgeries.

“Doctors said at one stage we are going to take your kidney out. I was lucky my mum was in the room and she said ‘let’s do anything we can to save the kidney’.”

Thar was transferred to another hospital which focused on kidneys and his kidney was able to be saved.

He faced a long journey to regain his pre-injury fitness levels.

“After I was cleared for the first session back, I went down to a local oval. I ran one lap and was vomiting, I couldn’t even run that one lap.

“It was six months before I had a base level of fitness back. My fitness is now the best it has ever been.”

Thar was hoping to return to the field last year, firstly with Werribee Districts and then Werribee in the VFL.

COVID-19 and cancelled football seasons put pay to that, with Thar using that time to get himself better prepared to return to the field.

He did that in the opening round of the WRFL season.

“I wasn’t expecting to play round one in the VFL,” he said. “I played local football.

“I had only played six games of senior football against bigger bodies in 2019.

“I wanted to get confident at that level and then look to play in the VFL in the second half of the season.”

That VFL dream became a reality last month when he made his debut for Werribee against North Melbourne.

Thar had 11 disposals and was involved in two goals. Coach Michael Barlow said after that game that the rest of the playing group could take notice of Thar’s efforts.

For the 21-year-old there were mixed emotions.

“It was a long time coming,” he said. “It was a bit of relief and a bit of excitement at the same time.

“It was really exciting after three years in the program to come out and play and have some fun out there.

“I’ve grown up here my whole life and I remember going to watch the VFL boys, it’s a bit surreal that I’m playing with them.”

Thar said he doesn’t take playing for granted and is now focused on remaining in the VFL side the rest of the year.

“The aim is to play every game. I’m starting to feel like that is where I belong.

“All the work I have done has paid off. Three years ago [2019] I was playing local footy and I wasn’t playing well

“And then I was thinking I wouldn’t play football again.”