By Beth Newman
Labrador stalwart, Mat Clarke, will add to his record state league tally this season, coming out of retirement for the Tigers on Sunday, against Sandgate.
The 28 year-old has been playing for Robina in the QFA South competition, but was drawn back to Cooke-Murphy Oval by the prospect of playing alongside his brother, Southport’s Adam Clarke, who has lined up for the Tigers this season.
“I thought I’d (come over) with the hope of playing with him (Adam) again, so that’s the main reason,” he said.
Clarke started playing for Labrador as a six year-old, but there were plenty of new faces for the Labrador life member, when he returned to training.
“I reckon there would have only been about eight guys I knew,” he said.
“A few in the reserves played last year, so it was good to know a few names and get a win too.”
The club’s state league games record holder, Clarke has stuck with the club through some leaner years, and is excited by the prospect of tasting success this season.
“I hope to play some finals, it’d be awesome to get a flag,” he said.
it’s (finals) been few and far between, I think I’ve only played three times the whole time I’ve played, it will be good. “
Despite six months out of the top grade, Clarke slipped straight back into the Tigers reserves last weekend, with a best on ground performance against Wilston Grange.
The 2010 Danny Newman Medallist, as the Tigers’ best and fairest, is champing at the bit to get on the field this weekend.
“I’m excited and anxious to see how I go,”he said.
Tigers football manager, Jarrod Field, said Clarke’s return would be welcomed by the injury-ravaged club.
“We knew he would have the speed and endurance to come back, but it was just about making sure he had some match fitness,” Field said.
Clarke’s return is timely in a season where Labrador have struggled to string a consistent side together due to a heavy injury toll.
With a casualty list hitting double digits for much of the season, Labrador’s run of bad luck continued last weekend, with Lara recruit Shaydon Bloomfield rupturing his ACL in his first five minutes at his new club.
The Tigers will be hoping to include a number of key players after injury lay-offs as finals near.
Labrador travels to Lemke Rd to take on Sandgate on Sunday, in Rd 12 of the QAFL.