Nathan Monkley will take to the field this weekend for an outstanding 400th time for club Alexandra Hills in the QFA (South) Competition.
The 41-year-old began his footy career in 1989 when ironically another 400 gamer named Richard Piper suggested that he give it a go.
Monkley wisely took his advice and the following year he was part of the club’s first U17 premiership side.
A year later, the young player had his first run as a senior footballer.
He describes his years in the game as good memories and speaks fondly of the great friends he made.
“A lot of the guys were still playing together into the 2000’s,” he said.
After 15 years of friendship, the group even had the opportunity to play in a reserves grand final in 2008.
If his on field duties weren’t keeping him busy enough, Monkley took the role of assistant coach for a few years.
He did so well that people suggested he should coach more regularly.
“There was a bit of a shortage with U10’s and U12’s so I just helped out when I was down there… people said I should coach, so I listened and I’ve done that for about seven years as well,” he said.
Monkley has now been part of the footy club for so long that some of the boys he coached in juniors have now moved through the ranks and joined him in senior footy.
“A lot of the boys that I’ve coached… I’m playing with them now,” he said.
With his playing and coaching, and undoubtedly work commitments, Monkley somehow found the time to have five children with wife Donna.
It’s not surprising that their children have gotten involved in footy with the youngest in U9’s and older son Jesse joining his dad in the seniors.
Monkley said that playing alongside his son would have to be a highlight for him.
“It was awesome. It was pride, he had a really good game… for them to say who is that kid and for me to be able to say that’s my boy,” he said.
Monkley says that when it comes down to it, he will hang up his footy boots to allow for the juniors to come through and play.
“As soon as a young bloke is not getting a game because of me then it’s time to go. I’m certainly not going to hold back any young kids going through… I’ll move on,” Monkley said.
He won’t be moving far though as after his playing days are over, he hopes to get into senior coaching and stick around the club for at least a few more years.
By Sarah Lingard