A Decade On: Matt Priddis
- Tuesday, 26 August 2014
The Matt Priddis story is a unique one
Over looked in 3 national drafts, the midfielder was 20 years old when West Coast recruiters threw him AFL lifeline in the form of the 31st selection in the 2005 rookie draft.
By that point he’d played 63 WAFL games, 2 state games, had won an Outridge medal and a Sandover.
Priddis’ thirst for hard work and his football smarts saw him quickly elevated to the Eagle’s senior list and he debuted in round 10 2006 in a stunning come from behind win over Geelong at Kardinia Park.
In 2007 Priddis didn’t miss a game with West Coast and established himself as a vital cog in their midfield.
Priddis’ standing within the AFL and within his team was acknowledged last season when he took out the John Worsfold Medal as the Eagles’ Best and fairest player.
In 8 seasons Priddis has fought tooth and nail to progress from the club’s rookie list to club champion.
It’s a story that is told time and time again at the Subiaco Football Club, where the name Priddis is bandied about as the example of hard work paying off.
Subiacofc.com.au caught up with the curly headed star ahead of the ten-year re-union of the club’s historic 2004 grand final win over Claremont.
Priddis remembers being a nervous 19 year old playing on in front of 22 thousand people on the WAFL’s biggest.
“I started on the bench next to Webby (Marc Webb) and I remember Smithy (Brad Smith) and Sammy Larkins were on fire early. It was probably more nerve racking having to wait that little bit longer to get out there and have a crack but it was a huge thrill.”
To describe his introduction the senior football as smooth would be an understatement.
“I was spoiled from a very early age because I was lucky enough to play in two reserves grand finals then lucky enough to play in the 04 league grand final so I thought ‘how good’s this?’ I was soon to find out it doesn’t always work out like that.” Priddis said with a laugh.
“We had some really good leaders at the time that’s what stood out for me, Maloney, Hayes, Haynes Webb, these sort of guys who were experienced at that level, their composure really rubbed off on the rest of the group.”
A member of a star-studded midfield, the teenager cut his teeth under some of the club’s finest.
“Dave Robbins, his footy smarts, I used to love watching him crumb the ball off a pack and he was very clean. Then it was the leadership of big Richard Maloney and his hardness is something that I really enjoyed watching and then there was the skills and freakish ability of Ali Pickett, so I liked to take a bit from each one of them.”
A lot of players, coaches and support staff talk about the level of professionalism it took for the Lions to produce four flags in five years .
Priddis says his 4 seasons with Subiaco left him fully prepared for the AFL system.
“Absolutely, the culture is something that I was proud to be a part of and it really held me in good stead for my future. The work rate of the entire playing group, the seniors and the reserves, a good 45 guys who absolutely worked as hard as they could and it was those foundations that really set the club up for the next for or five years of winning premierships and playing in Grand finals. That’s the one thing I’m very grateful of, being a part of a group that was prepared to put in the real hard yards and extra sessions to be successful.”
2003 was a pivotal season for Subiaco, New coach Peter German had taken the reigns and while the Lions would go on to lose the Grand Final to West Perth, the playing group could feel a sense of change.
By that time Priddis was still eligible to play colts, but was selected to make his WAFL debut in round 2. It was one of his two senior appearances that season.
“2003, I remember Germo’s first speech down in the Subi rooms, He said he was there to improve the standards and we were going to work extremely hard, it was pretty daunted at the time but then I thought ‘how good is this?’ If I play colts this year I was going to get the best possible pre-season and just try and tag along with the best players and see how I could push myself and challenge myself. He was huge for the club because we had been in a lot of preliminary finals leading into to 03’ he really changed that culture to be able to crack it.”
“He set really good standards, he had a simple game plan that required everyone to buy in and they did and if you went outside those you’d know about its. Also his work rate, he liked himself to train extremely hard, he would run for 45 minutes to an hour before training even started, guys would see him working extremely hard and it just rubbed off on the playing group.”
Priddis’ worth ethic and dedication to football is second to none. He has a rare desire to milk every bit of ability out of himself.
“I think whether I was going to get drafted or not I just wanted to play at the highest possible level I could play at, so if that was A grade for North Beach or league footy for Subiaco, I didn’t care.”
“I loved doing extra training sessions with Matty Barber, really trying to challenge some of the older guys who were playing league footy I wanted to close that gap between the younger guys and the older guys with my approach to training.”
By the time the re-union takes place this Sunday, Priddis will have played 173 games as an Eagle but says the Subiaco Football Club will always feel like home.
“I’m as much Subi as I am West Coast. I have so many proud memories and mates from the club so for me they’re alongside each other.”
Lions fans harbour hope that once Priddis calls it a day at AFL level he may once again don the maroon and gold.
“I know I’ve played a little bit more at West Coast but Subiaco holds great memories they gave me my start, Germo in particular was some one for me to really learn off… he was some one there to keep the dream alive so I’m forever grateful for the opportunities that Subiaco have given me.”