AROUND the Harman Hogs footy club, Johno Carbone is known as ‘The Driver’.
Carbone’s prized 1986 VL Holden has become a ubiquitous site around the club over the past five years with the 22-year-old always happy to offer a lift to those in need.
“Basically due to some health reasons I was told I wasn’t meant to drink so when the guys were out drinking, I’d be out not drinking,” Carbone explains.
“So I ended up becoming the deso [designated driver] and it sort of went from there.”
“We just call him ‘The Driver’,” adds Hogs vice-president Brad Toone.
“He’s always giving lifts to teammates to and from matches as well as lifts home after post-match functions. I’ve never met a guy who loves his car as much as [Johno] did either.
“He’d had everything that he wanted done to it. It was really his pride and joy.”
So when the uninsured vehicle was stolen from outside Carbone’s Queanbeyan home last Tuesday morning, he was understandably distraught.
But it didn’t take long for his Harman club mates to rally to the cause. After finding out about the theft, Harman teammate Josh Prater raised the idea of the club pitching in to find Carbone a new set of wheels.
Within a matter of days, the Hogs, Queanbeyan Uniting Church and the wider community had raised more than $3000 with Toone able to track down a 1987 VL to replace what was stolen.
And on Saturday night, Toone, along with a crowd of more than 60 people at Carbone’s workplace Queanbeyan’s Top Pub, presented the car in a scene that “left a few grown men in tears”.
“He’s had a pretty tough life and his car was the one thing he valued more than anything else so that’s why we went with the idea,” Toone said.
“No one needed any convincing to help out. Johno’s pretty much an icon of the club. He’s always around, he’s always volunteering and everyone loves him so whatever we could do really.”
Carbone, meanwhile, said he had been caught completely off-guard by the gesture. Having turned up for his regular shift at the pub, he initially didn’t think too much of the large number of Hogs teammates in attendance.
“I was pretty much ready to move on and count the car as a loss,” he said. “I had no idea anyone was planning anything like this.
“I caught on a little bit when my foster father turned up at work and he was a bit teary. I could tell something was up and then all of a sudden they presented me with the car.
“Probably a few people out there know some of the stuff I’ve been through but to have them do something like this for me, it’s hard to put into words really what it’s like.”
Queanbeyan Police said investigations into the theft are ongoing.