Columbus' Simpson Leads Local Side to Flag

Clyde Simpson has always been a leader of men, from his time in the service, through his captaincy with the Columbus Cats Football Club and the USA Revolution national team.

Half a world away from home, he continues to lead, and on this occasion, led them to premiership glory.

Simpson turned in a best-on-ground performance in the Horsham Districts Football-Netball League Reserves Grand Final, spurring his Jeparit-Rainbow Storm over Harrow Balmoral in a cold and wet decider 5.6.36 to 3.5.23.  Both teams were locked in an even arm wrestle until halftime on a mucky Horsham City Oval, but the Storm outkicked the Kangaroos two goals to none in the third term, and then held on for the win.

The victory topped off a remarkable run to the premiership; the 11-4 Storm had ended Harrow Balmoral's perfect season two weeks earlier in the qualifying final to earn their place in the championship match.

Jeparit Rainbow Football Netball Club is a combined team of the two small country towns in western Victoria, Australia, 250 miles north west of Melbourne.

The USAFL connection with Jeparit Rainbow initially began in 2014 with Clyde and Eric Politz, also from Columbus, playing a season with Jeparit Rainbow under the USAFL player exchange program.

Clyde’s story is remarkable journey. It began when Tony Fairhead from the USAFL Australian Advisory Board talked to him in his home city of Columbus in the USA. Clyde had only just started to play Australian Rule with the Columbus Jackaroos club when Tony suggested he come to Australia to increase his football knowledge and skills.

He was then a raw talent, playing mainly in the seniors but still learning as he went along. It did not take long for Clyde to display his trademark aggression at the ball and hard tacking. After a couple of games for the club in 2015 Clyde returned to the USA.

He made the USA national team in 2016 and last year played for the USA Revolution in the 2017 International Cup in Melbourne. Clyde was one of the best players in the team that finished fourth in the eighteen-team IC17 competition.

This year Clyde was able to play nearly a full season in Australia, only missing three games when he to returned to the USA. As the season went on he became a dominant figure in the team’s midfield, winning the contested ball and having an influence around the ground.  Simpson's best-on performance in the Grand Final extended his streak of being named to his team's best over his last ten games, and was honored in eleven of the fifteen games he played in. 

The improvement in his play has been amazing and a tribute to the hard work Clyde has put in to improve his game.  He finished second in the team’s best and fairest which was due recognition of his valued contribution to the team.

Everyone in the USAFL family is thrilled with Clyde’s achievement, it means a lot to football in the USA, as it has meant for the Jeparit Rainbow Football Netball Club.

The USAFL Australian Advisory Board hopes that it will encourage more USAFL players to come and play for small country clubs like Jeparit Rainbow. There they will experience and understand the 24/7 passion for the sport that can exist within a club and the local community.

Les Graetz and Rod Buncle contributed to this story.

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