For Aspley and NEAFL superstar Matthew Payne, not much hasn’t been achieved by the diminutive midfielder.
In his eighth season in the league, Payne will play his 150th game at NEAFL level when the Hornets take on the GIANTS at Voxson Oval this Saturday.
The prolific midfielder will become only the seventh player in NEAFL history to have played 150 games - another milestone to go alongside his three NEAFL MVP wins and eight appearances in the NEAFL Team of the Year.
Having debuted in 2011 for Southport, Payne went on to win the club’s best-and-fairest and Grogan medal for the Northern Conference’s best player to set the tone for an unrivalled career in the competition.
Payne, who turns 34 next month, has won a Grogan, three NEAFL MVP’s – including the inaugural 2014 trophy – six club best-and-fairests and made the NEAFL Team of the Year every season he has played, missing out once in 2013 when he took a year off to play for home club Rosebud in Victoria.
But of all the accolades, trophies and record, there is one achievement which easily tops the list.
For Payne, he is happy to put beside all his individual achievements when looking back at his proudest career achievement.
“The 2014 Grand Final would have to be it; a lot of hard work went into it,” he told neafl.com.au.
“Team success - you just can’t beat it.”
Payne joined Aspley in 2012 after switching from the Sharks where he has been ever since.
Aspley will take on the GIANTS at Voxson Oval this Saturday in Week 1 of the 2019 NEAFL Finals Series; an all too familiar stage for Payne who will run out for his seventh consecutive finals appearance for the Hornets.
However, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the Hornets, beginning the 2019 season with a 2-5 loss record, a start Payne said didn’t reflect where the Hornets sat.
“We played some very good teams early, everyone knew we were playing good footy,” he said.
“So once we had our first good win we knew our brand stuck up. It was about getting that bit of belief we could do it.”
And that belief has worked wonders for the Hornets who finished third in the regular season – a record highest ever finish for the club - and definitely cannot be overlooked in the finals series.
Despite Aspley’s run of consecutive finals places, it will be quite a different feel this year with coach Daniel Webster in his first year at the helm and Aspley’s particularly younger core.
“We’re a lot younger this year, everyone has bought into it this year,” Payne said.
“We play as mates and that helps us develop each other.”
When asked what advice he had for his younger brigade heading into finals, the former co-captain of the club wasn’t keen to re-invent the wheel.
“I tell them to keep it simple, stick to what we know and what we’ve been doing. Nothing changes in finals,” he said.
For those who know Payne, they know the prolific midfielder is a quiet yet humble footballer who prefers to let his actions do the talking.
Come Saturday’s Elimination Final, Payne has no plans of making game 150 any different.
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