A Tribute to Deklan Gilmartin – By Michael Katz

When I was asked to write a tribute to Deks, I couldn’t find the words because I couldn’t comprehend the loss to his family and friends. Jaba’s tribute to Deks which so beautifully captured his essence, and the various videos and stories we’ve all shared with one another, say everything about Deks as a man and a footballer. What I want to share is a memory of the Hakoah FC team where Deks played such a huge role.

There is no silver lining to the tragedy of Deks’ passing, but it has brought back together his old team which shared the best changeroom any of us have ever been in. I don’t know if it was our shared ambition, our competitive nature or just an unexplainable team spirit, but our team always felt and was invincible. No one embodied that feeling more than Deks both on and off the field.

I remember at the end of the 2014 season Deks crying because so many older players were stepping down and he felt it was the end of an era. He doesn’t know this but a couple of years later I shed a tear when he called to tell me he was taking a season off to travel, because that really was the end of an era and he still had so much to give on the field.

Coming together over the last two weeks to share our memories of Deks, it has been incredible to hear how much it meant to each person to be a part of that changeroom, and how hard it has been to replace it in our lives. Until reconnecting over Deks’ passing, I myself didn’t know how much I missed that changeroom, and the sense of belonging and purpose that came with it.

To anyone that shared a changeroom with Deks, no matter what happens in your life remember that feeling you had back then and know that you will always belong to that team. To the younger boys coming through, I hope you get to experience something like we did, and remember to make the most of every game of football in your life. Remember Deks, and like Jaba said, be a player who always wants the ball.