THE sudden death of John McCarthy has rocked the tight-knit Sorrento community that gave rise to the Port Adelaide midfielder.
The 22-year-old's ''future was looking fantastic'' according to Sorrento Football Club president Garry Woodhams, who said the loss would take a toll on the whole football community.
John McCarthy had football in his blood
John McCarthy's AFL career began at Collingwood but his pedigree could be traced through his older brother and father, who both played for Geelong.
''Of course we're all devastated. It is surreal it has just happened like it has. It's such a well-known family; the whole club will be in shock.''
McCarthy's father Shane is a long-term club sponsor and popular past president of the Sharks.
Woodhams recalled the younger McCarthy as ''very determined and skilful'' on the field and an ''unassuming and polite'' gentleman outside the game.
''He was only 22 and he's already been part of the biggest club in Australia. That sort of thing is just so inspiring for our juniors.''
While Woodhams knows the players are going to be grieving he couldn't predict what effect the loss would have on preparations for Saturday's grand final against Dromana.
Of the 22 players lacing up for the game, 18 came through the Sorrento juniors and many were mates of McCarthy.
Mornington Peninsula Nepean Football League chief executive officer Jeff Jones said everyone in the league would be hit hard by the death.
''There is a strong connection between the family and the league. It's one of the largest community footy leagues in Victoria but it's also tight-knit - everyone knows everyone.''