To tell the Shane Mumford story, we have to go back to the start.
Not to the very beginning where the boiler maker from Bunyip in country Victoria famously shed weight over the summer to earn a spot on the Geelong Cats list.
But far enough back that he was still running around for his second of three AFL clubs, the Sydney Swans.
It’s September 2013 and the GIANTS were heavily courting Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin - the Hawthorn key forward was the hottest property in the league and the newest club in the competition wanted him to be the face of their franchise.
So much so that the media and marketing teams at the time were putting early plans in place of how the unveiling of Franklin as a GIANT could roll out for maximum impact following his move north.
As often the case with grand plans such as this, things didn’t quite go to plan. Just 48 hours after Franklin and his Hawks secured the 2013 Premiership, the GIANTS were informed that Buddy was in fact moving north but would be setting up base closer east, as a Swan.
This was a curveball the size of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and one that would certainly have some flow-on effects for all the clubs involved.
Some may wallow in the disappointment of missing out on the big fish they had their sights set on. The GIANTS’ list management team of the time do not fall into this category.
It quickly became clear to General Manager of Football Graeme ‘Gubby’ Allan, List Boss Stephen Silvagni and CEO David Matthews that the money they had set aside for Franklin could now be used elsewhere. And that a salary the size of Franklin’s would cause some spillage at the Swans.
And what more could the GIANTS want to help their young list than an experienced Premiership ruckman that enjoyed a bit of rough and tumble?
Three days after the Franklin bombshell dropped, Shane Mumford - collateral damage of the nine-year Buddy deal - became the first player to go from East to West and was unveiled under the ANZAC Bridge alongside G-MAN as the latest GIANT recruit.
Weeks later, Heath Shaw traded the famous black and white for the orange of the GIANTS and the experienced pair set about instilling confidence and belief in their younger teammates.
It didn’t take long for the impact of Mumford (and Shaw) to take effect, with the famous victory over the Swans in round one of 2014 at Skoda Stadium (now GIANTS Stadium) coinciding with the duos first match for their new club.
Mumford quickly became an integral part of the club and their game style.
With some of the nation’s most impressive youngsters in their formative years, coach Leon Cameron gave them license to take the game on with run and dare.
He did this knowing that he had one of the competition’s best ruckman right next to them in the centre square.
Mumford’s first season saw him play 17 games and be awarded the Kevin Sheedy Medal as the Club Champion.
2015 saw the GIANTS go to the next level as the embryonic stage of their development morphed into a group of hardened footballers, with Mumford leading the way.
With a seven win and three-loss record through the first 10 rounds, it looked like the GIANTS had finally arrived.
The men in orange were on the big stage - facing Collingwood at the MCG. The youngest team in the comp was still searching for their first win against the AFL’s biggest club, and this was their chance.
But bad luck struck as Mumford suffered a serious ankle injury on the outer wing. The big man went to the turf clutching at his ankle in agony. And in that moment, the hopes of a maiden finals berth in 2015 also went crashing down.
With the back half of 2015 spent on the couch recuperating, Mumford and the GIANTS came out bigger and stronger than ever before in 2016.
Just ask Geelong’s Mitch Duncan, who felt the full force of the hulking ruckman on a beautiful afternoon in Canberra. This is when the phrase “to be Mummified” entered the AFL lexicon.
Mumford played 23 of a possible 24 games in 2016. With his fierce attack on the football combining with the birth of the Orange Tsunami, the GIANTS brand of football was born. And the youngest club in the competition roared into their first finals series.
For many of his teammates, the first final against the Swans at ANZ Stadium would be the biggest crowd they’d played in front of – 60,000 were expected. This would be the biggest occasion in NSW’s AFL history.
Mumford, Shaw and Steve Johnson brought Grand Final experience and calm to the group. And Mumford also bought knowledge of the unusual surrounds of the venue, having played 15 games at ANZ Stadium prior to that September day.
The wily veteran set the standard for the GIANTS in that first quarter. Bruising encounters with Kurt Tippett and Buddy Franklin were there for all to see in the first quarter. And the young GIANTS asked themselves - “why not us, why not now” and marched on to a famous victory against their cross-town rivals.
Many thought the end came for Mumford in Adelaide in 2017. He injured his foot in the Qualifying Final, and in typical Mumford fashion, kept fighting throughout the night to play out the game. Scans following the game revealed a navicular fracture - one of football’s most feared injuries.
Six weeks later, he retired on medical grounds. Close to tears at the announcement at Drummoyne Oval, Mumford posed for photos with son Ollie and spoke of the need to put his family first to be able to play with his kids in the years to come.
You can’t keep a man like Mumford still, however. While 2018 was going to see the big man move into coaching and a club ambassadorial role, he still had an itch he felt like he had to scratch. Boxing.
With his foot recovering, Mumford put the gloves on and took up boxing as a way to stay active; in mind and body.
Several mornings a week, he’d wake up before the sun and drive to St Mary’s in Sydney’s west to complete a brutal session at the Ultimate Training Centre before hopping back into the car to drive to Olympic Park to complete his club duties.
He won his inaugural fight via TKO in July 2018, but it was the work he was doing outside the ring that had track watchers most impressed.
Mumford speaks openly about how the boxing helped his footwork. And this footwork, coupled with years of ruck craft and a rejuvenated body, saw the veteran put many former teammates to the sword on the training track.
His ability to outwork younger and fitter opponents led the GIANTS coaching and list management staff to wonder - just what if…
With the GIANTS bowing out in the second week of the finals and Rory Lobb likely to move back to WA, could Mumford fill the ruck void one more time in 2019?
A tumultuous few months followed for Mumford, but he was eventually added to the club’s list as part of the new pre-season supplemental selection period.
He sat out the first fortnight of 2019 before the Mummy returned in round three against Richmond at GIANTS Stadium.
He was managed throughout 2019 and shared the ruck load with fellow veteran Dawson Simpson.
Many expected Mumford to play just a handful of games in his return season but at the age of 33, he played 20 games - including all four finals.
And who could forget the sidestep around Collingwood champion Scott Pendlebury in the dying stages of that epic Preliminary Final?
Big man Mumford stooges Pendlebury pic.twitter.com/BzMLAjFPFl— The Franga Hanga (@CharlieDons) September 22, 2019
Following the bitter end to the 2019 season, Mumford and the GIANTS decided that he’d sign a new one-year contract to take his career into his 12th season.
Once again, the thinking was that Sam Jacobs would do the bulk of the rucking this season with Mumford ably assisting where required.
Tonight, will be Mumford’s eighth game this season and third in a row. His 200th AFL game and 100th for the club makes his two children, Ollie and Theo, eligible under the Father/Son rules as they currently stand.
Just like they have in previous years, many expect 2020 to be Mumford’s final season. But the Benjamin Button of the AFL said himself this week that it is a conversation for after the season.
So, while this section is titled The End, you’d have to be a brave person to put a line through Mumford finding a way to keep pushing on.
Shane Mumford is a character who’s got the best out of himself over his entire career and when the end finally does come, he’ll be remembered as one of the most important pieces of the early days of the club.
He helped boys grow into men, and made these men walk taller with him by their side.