By Beth Newman
The conditions were more Ballarat than Broadbeach last weekend and that suited Palm Beach’s Matthew Bilton just fine.
The small forward, who moved from Ballarat this year, was a standout in the Lions’ wet-weather win against Broadbeach, earning him the Rd 8 Syd Guildford Trophy nomination.
He notched around 20 possessions on the day and was hugely influential, but Bilton said he was just happy to be out there.
“I’m just happy to get a kick, to be honest,” he said.
The 24 year-old struggled with injury early this season, suffering a broken toe and a leg injury, but over the last month, he has started to find some form, culminating in last weekend’s performance.
“It (my body) is finally perfect, I’m really happy,” he said.
“I have definitely put the injuries behind me.”
Living in Brisbane now, Bilton came to Palm Beach via former teammate, Shane Hutchinson, who played in the Lions’ 2013 premiership, and he hasn’t looked back.
“I played with Hutchy in the Ballarat Footy League and he persuaded me to make the trip to Palm Beach,” he said.
“It’s a really good bunch of blokes, they’ve made me feel really welcome.”
Bilton said he was adapting well to the quicker style of footy in Queensland.
“It’s a pretty attacking game style up here, but to me football’s just football.”
Palm Beach coach, Daryn Cresswell, said Bilton’s unrelenting attack on the football and speed was key for the Lions this season.
“Particularly in the last two or three weeks, his fitness is back to where it should be and we’re starting to see the rewards,” he said.
“He brings so much to our group and his attack on the ball’s as good as I’ve seen.”
“He’s a very important player for us.”
A quiet player off the track, Cresswell said Bilton simply led the way through his actions.
“When he says something, everyone responds really well,” he said.
“He leads by his actions and he’s certainly very well-respected within our footy club.”
His commitment to the team cannot be questioned either, after he played on his broken toe against Morningside
Bilton’s form has earned him late inclusion in this weekend’s QAFL squad to take on the VAFA.