Local legend Wells bring up 1000 goals

Jason Wells celebrates goal 998 - and number one of the day. 406510 Pictures: STEWART CHAMBERS.

By Jonty Ralphsmith

Popular local footballer Jason Wells brought up his 1000-goal milestone during Longwarry’s clash with Ellinbank on Saturday.

The forward fittingly brought it up for the same club he played his juniors at, with his career having spanned Nilma-Darnum, Warragul Industrials, Kilcunda Bass and Kooweerup.

Needing three goals on the day to bring up the milestone, he did it just before halftime, getting one out the back and soccering it from the goalsquare.

Wells was mobbed.

First came the kids, then the loyal club-people.

“I lost it a bit to be honest,” Wells said, reflecting on the moment.

“It was instant relief when I kicked it and then the emotions started flowing after I realised what had happened.”

It was an emotional day: Wells’ parents and uncle were down, as were several mates from Kilcunda-Bass.

“Trying to contain it all and keep it together when we still had a game to play was hard,” he explained.

“Before the game we spoke about the fact it was a big game for me but I said ‘we can’t shy away from the fact we had an important game to win.’

“I wanted to get it done as soon as possible so I could focus on the rest of the game.

“It’s something I’m pretty excited about because starting out my career, I obviously wasn’t playing footy for stuff like this, I wanted premierships.”

He tasted team success early in his senior footy career, playing in a three-peat for Kilcunda-Bass from 2011-2013.

Across that period, he kicked 171 goals in 58 games, despite having just 19 matches of senior experience.

He learned off Luke James, who coincidentally also passed the 1000-goal mark on Saturday, and Kael Bergles, who has 1136 goals to his name.

“Playing alongside them was a massive thrill,” Wells said.

“You think you just play forward and kick goals but quickly learn that there’s so much more to it than that.”

Wells has also experienced the doldrums of local footy: in 2015, the springy small forward kicked 75 of Nilma Darnum’s 95 goals during a two-win season.

From 2015-2023, he represented five different clubs but was always adamant on finishing his career where it started.

“It’s a really good family environment at Longwarry, they make everyone feel welcomed so it was an easy decision to go back there and something I always wanted to do,” Wells said.

“Getting the taste of success early, it’s something you always strive for and now having kids, I’ve always said ‘I’ll try and not finish footy until I get the flag and the kids holding the cup’.”

Wells’ 204 goals since 2021 have raised money for Mindfull Aus; a non-profit wellness organisation.

His own battles with depression and anxiety caused a shift in mindset for Wells in the discussion around mental health, which was the catalyst for him wanting to do what he could to assist others.

Aware of the hyper-masculine perception some have of sporting clubs, Wells is determined to create a brotherhood where people are comfortable sharing their feelings.

“I had a really good way of shutting people out,” Wells reflected.

“My mindset was ‘you’re not going through what I’m going through, you’ve got no idea’ but my message would be to open up more.

“The reason I do this is to create a safe environment: it’s a conversation that can quite easily get swept under the carpet and I’m trying to change that.”

There are 25 stakeholders which donate a sum of money for every goal Wells kicks, a number which has gradually increased since he started raising money in 2021.

He’s won premierships, terrorised defenders and now kicked 1003 goals, but its using his profile in local footy to raise more than $38,000 and counting which Wells holds as his proudest achievement.

Those within the Demons noted his willingness to be vulnerable, while he organised a speaker from Mindfull Aus to speak to the Longwarry players earlier this year.

To further spotlight the matter, Wells also runs out and warms up with a Mindfull Aus t-shirt each week.

“Not knowing what mental health and depression was as a young kid, to it being something I’m aware of and can comfortably talk about, is something I can be really proud of for the rest of my career,” Wells said.

“I spent quite a lot of time pretending everything was okay and I was definitely one who shied away from talking about how I’m feeling.

“Having two kids at that point – I wanted to be a role model for them and show them that no matter how you’re feeling, you don’t have to hide it, you can always talk about it; there’s no shame in it.”

Anyone needing help can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14

Type of player: A hit-up forward with elite acceleration, a brilliant vertical leap and excellent goal nous.

Favourite midfielders to lead up to: Danny Wells (Longwarry), Mitch Golby (Kilcunda-Bass), Brent Macaffer (Kilcunda-Bass), Chris Endres (Kilcunda-Bass).

Favourite players to share forward 50 with: Nathan Voss (Kooweerup), Braydon McHugh (Longwarry), Jedd Serong (Longwarry).

Toughest direct opponent: Daniel Battaglin (Nar Nar Goon).

Most goals in a game: 14 (Longwarry v Yarragon, 2019)

Most goals in a season: 88 (2018, Kooweerup)

Former coach Rhys Nisbet (Kooweerup) on Wells: “Playing as a full forward at his height is pretty special. He has a skillset not many others do in terms of goal kicking, fantastic in the air, a beautiful kick of the footy and always made the most of his chances. Off field he would always let the young guys know he has an ear for them.”

Current coach Darren Granger (Longwarry) on Wells: “It’s a very special occasion for Jase and his family. He’s someone you can leave alone knowing he will help out the team and guide the younger players in their forward craft. He’s a very selfless person and he does care for people; the young list and juniors at the club look up to him.”