Todd Featherstone played his 100th game for Labrador last week, showing that loyalty is alive and well – and rewarding – in the QAFL.

Thursday 22 July 2010

Labrador’s new-found success and emerging culture of respect can be attributed in some part of dynamic rover Todd Featherstone.

When almost all others were deserting a sinking ship, Featherstone held firm and vowed to try and help the Tigers to smoother waters.

It has taken a while – and some nasty hidings – but along with the likes of Nathan Gurcuillo and Adam Cooke, Featherstone is now reaping the rewards of his loyalty.

With the Tigers equal top of the premiership table after 14 rounds for the first time in history, it was a more than appropriate time for Featherstone to celebrate his 100th game last Saturday.

Fittingly, he was close to best afield in a determined effort to ensure the Tigers walked off the field winners in his milestone game.

Originally from Sydney, Featherstone did not take up the game until his teens, and joined the Tigers after moving north in 2005 aged 23.

He missed six games through injury in his first season, but has played every game bar one in the last five and a half years.

Featherstone was the first player in four years to actually remain at the club after claiming his first best and fairest back in 2006.

“You can’t leave a club when it is down and out, even if everyone else seems to be up and leaving,” he said of the transient nature of the playing list until recent years. “Those of us who stayed are reaping the rewards now.”

The 2007 season was a memorable one for Featherstone, with the Tigers winning their first and only final, and the 172cm / 70kg tyro taking out the Grogan Medal for the best player in the competition.

It was also the season in which he played his two most memorable games.

The final qualifying rounds match saw the Tigers kick a solitary goal on a flooded Esplen Oval, where Featherstone was so good that he polled two Grogan votes.

“We were getting pumped, so I tried two or three chip-and-chases that day,” he said of a throwback to his childhood rugby league days. Every time the ball went on the ground near the boundary we’d dive on it to try and score a ‘try’.

“It was like playing in a pig-pen, it was a lot of fun.”

The other occasion was more serious, when Redland visited Cooke-Murphy Oval. Featherstone distinctly remembers the statistics showing that he engineered 10 inside 50s himself by halftime in that game, where others estimate his possession count passed the half century.

While Featherstone is in the top eight in the voting for the 2010 Syd Guildford Trophy for the QAFL Footy Record Player of the Year, he hasn’t rated his year as highly as others.

“It probably hasn’t been my best season. I’ve been happy with some games but others where I have got awards or Guildford votes I didn’t think I was in the best, which is a bit weird,” he said, before admitting: “I set high standards and I am hard on myself – that’s the only way you get better.”

He certainly was prominent last Saturday when Labrador only made the game safe in the last 10 minutes after a wholly committed effort by visiting Aspley.

“It was a bit scary when we were even at halftime,” Featherstone admitted.

Still, he simply was not going to accept defeat on his big day.

“I did set myself for the game,” he said. “Shatts (skipper Aaron Shattock) and Fieldsy (coach Jarrod Field) said to me beforehand just to treat it as another game but I am a competitive person and I would have done anything to have had a blinder.

“I’d been thinking about it all week.”
Fittingly, he was chaired off the ground afterwards by his teammates in front of a sizeable home crowd.

“A couple of guys carried me off and when my daughter Scarlett ran out I did get a bit emotional,” he said.”

It says a lot about Labrador’s desire to become a good football club that management organised guernseys for each child at the club with their father’s name on the back.

It is symptomatic of why they have emerged as a power after 14 largely barren seasons, with club development manager Ryan Kogelman, Field and recruiting man Luke Black all playing important roles.

“Luke’s recruiting has been amazing. I would never dream that I would play my 100th game alongside Spida Everitt,” Featherstone. “It’s awesome the way Labrador has come on – a few years ago the club had to write to the QAFL to say why they should stay in the competition.

“There’s a good feeling around the club, there’s a family atmosphere, everyone is mates.”

Featherstone’s big day was capped by a presentation at the Tigers’ Ball on the night of the game, receiving framed photos and plaque, the game ball and a trophy.

He’s hoping the dream continues to evolve.

“You don’t want to get ahead of yourself but anything can happen at finals time,” he said.

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