MICHAEL James Troon was many things to many people.
In the family business, H.Troon, he was known as “the blowfly” for his infectious enthusiasm about each new project.
On the football field, the 1995 North Ballarat premiership captain was loyal, determined, strong and led by example.
To his family, he was “king of the kids” and “everyone’s best dad”.
And to his close-knit group of friends, he was the adventure seeker who invented the word “mancation” for their annual trips.
Mike, who died last Saturday aged 44 after an eight-month battle with depression, was farewelled yesterday at a St Andrew’s Uniting Church service attended by 1400 mourners.
His brother Steve described his younger brother Mike as an excellent sportsman.
Summer was spent in the family passion of sailing, including grand prix events all over Australia.
But winter was when he could indulge his favourite sporting passion, football.
He played firsts football with Ballarat Clarendon College and then University Blues while completing his building construction degree at RMIT.
He then returned to the North Ballarat Football Club, eventually becoming a premiership captain.
“He had enormous loyalty, enthusiasm and a mental toughness that was the envy of his peers,” Steve said.
He told the story of how Mike got sick in the week leading up to a Ballarat Football League grand final.
He was forced to prove his fitness on grand final eve by running Lake Wendouree, which he did under considerable stress, only to find he was still dropped to the seconds.
“Most people would have been so shocked and dismayed they would have left the club but Mike stayed.”
Steve said coaches Jim Buckley and Alan Ezard recognised Mike’s abilities and eventually made him captain of “the most powerful football club in Australia outside of the AFL”.
He said Mike also brought a unique energy to the family business.
“He understood his role as custodian of a business which has stood for more than 100 years.”
Steve said Mike’s family life with childhood sweetheart Maxine and his children – “the beautiful Maya, the athletic Nelson and the princess Delaney” – was the envy of many.
He also said Mike continually wanted new adventures to try.
“Mount Bulla wasn’t a challenge. He had to be helicoptered to the highest peak and land on the freshest snow. It had to be extreme.”
But Steve said Mike always found time to help other people in need.
“He was a powerful, courageous and generous human being but above all he was my little brother.”
Mike’s wife Maxine said he had struggled with depression for the past eight months.
“It tore Mike away from his life,” she said.
“His main nurse said she had never seen anyone try so hard to beat it.
“But let’s remember the Mike we loved.”
The pair met at Ballarat Clarendon College and began dating when they were 16.
“Initially I thought I’d give it two weeks and then let him down gently but I found I’d never laughed so much so then I gave it two months and then two years.”
She said, despite living in different towns while at university and following their various sporting interests, their priority was always their relationship.
Maxine said they trekked the Golden Triangle, heli-skiied in New Zealand, surfed in Bali and shared a white Christmas in Austria.
She said his extended family was also important to Mike.
“We were so lucky we got the best of him. He always made our kids feel so special making them pancakes and telling them stories of when he was a little boy.”
“Sometimes when he was playing with the kids, it was hard to tell who was supervising.”
She said Mike was always planning their next adventure.
“Life doesn’t feel the same without Mike in it and I’m so very proud to be his wife.”
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