Werrimull’s Matt Kelly. Photo: MITCH RODD
By MITCH RODD
REACHING 300 games is only one part of the milestone for Werrimull’s Matt Kelly.
When the 43-year-old takes to the field against Bambill tomorrow, he will incredibly become a third generation 300-game player for the Magpies.
He follows in the footsteps of his father Kieran and grandfather Frank in reaching the milestone wearing the black and white.
Matt’s first full season with Werrimull came as a 22-year-old in 1997, and he said the love of the game and the enjoyment of being around his boyhood club is what keeps him going.
“Each year is a fresh challenge and another chance to get out and have a run,” he said. “Especially when new coaches and players are around it always keeps things fresh.
I definitely cop it at times though, I’m playing with some boys half my age.
“I still catch up a bit with guys I’ve played with before at the footy and at social events. A lot of them ask why I’m still playing! I’ve been pretty lucky not to have too many major injuries over the years.
“I think that’s the biggest thrill of it all (reaching 300 games), to be able to achieve what they did.
“There’ll be a lot of family and friends and past teammates coming along to watch which will be great. Hopefully we can get the win against Bambill.”
Matt is one of the few remaining Millewa Football League (MFL) players still based in the Millewa. He works with his father on a wheat property in Werrimull.
Matt is a three-time premiership player with the Pies, including the 2003 flag which broke a 22-year drought for the club.
Sporting Saturdays are a ritual and a family affair for the Kellys. Matt’s wife Renee is heavily involved in the Werrimull netball program and is a former Millewa Netball Association A Grade best and fairest winner.
Their four children Seamus, 10, Mary, 9, Paddy, 7, and Annie, 5, have all caught the sporting bug as well, coming through Auskick and the junior netball programs at Werrimull. Seamus is currently playing Under 12’s for Imperials, but no doubt will get a few nudges towards becoming a fourth generation 300-game player for the club.
“They’re always great family occasions. It’s a bit of a family routine,” Matt said. “The kids love being part of it, they also love the canteen as well!”
Having been part of the MFL for over two decades, Matt has seen many changes in that time and he believes the 2018 version is the best he has ever seen.
“The Millewa is as strong as it’s ever been,” he said.
“When I started there was a senior netball and junior netball team. Now we have four senior teams, junior teams and now a women’s footy team. It makes the whole social atmosphere of the club so much better as well.”
Werrimull face Bambill in Matt Kelly’s 300th game at Mildura Senior College from 2.30pm tomorrow.