Cebby's Big Day

The below piece was penned by Hawthorn's Indigenous Development Manager, Angela Burt.

In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, there is no such thing as a coincidence.

Time is circular, with the past, present and future all occurring at the same time.

This means that the spirits of our ancestors, who are embedded in Country, continue to influence and intervene (when necessary).

At a time when racial vilification of Indigenous Australian footballers is the norm, rather than the exception, it was timely for the football community to receive a reminder from the ancestors of the power and unification that Australian football can deliver.

This reminder came in the form of Cebby Johnson.

The story began in 2017 when young Cebby came to Ricoh Stadium. Whilst having lunch in the cafe, he was surprised by his football idol, Hawthorn star Cyril Rioli.This young Indigenous boy from Tennant Creek received a personal tour of the Hawks' facility and went home proudly wearing an Indigenous guernsey with No.33 on the back.

Footage from this day shows a boy who genuinely loved footy.

One year later, Hawthorn Football Club Indigenous player Jarman Impey visited the Royal Children’s Hospital.

During this unscheduled visit, Jarman visited the bedside of a young Indigenous boy who was in a coma after falling through a roof at Dromana.

Jarman would later discover this young boy was Cebby Johnson.

After three months in hospital, Cebby returned home. The fall had severed his optic nerves leaving him with total and permanent loss of sight.

In 2019, Cebby again returned to Hawthorn Football Club. This time, he held the title of No.1 fan for the club’s Easter Monday blockbuster against Geelong.

Guided by the comforting voices of Jarman and fellow Indigenous player Chad Wingard, Cebby ran onto the ground to the cheers of over 70,000 people.

Footage from this day shows a mature, resilient young man who still genuinely loves footy.

Hawthorn Football Club is grateful to know Cebby and thankful for the lessons learned from this remarkable young man.

His story is a constant reminder of the unifying power of Australian football. Thank you, Cebby.

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