It has been an interesting sort of footy journey for Trow, aka Matthew Trewhella. Particularly the last few years that have allowed him to study the game from all angles, from full back to full forward and even the coaches box.
The big Gorilla forward will call time on a stellar 270 game career on Saturday, going out while he’s well and truly on top after nabbing a QAFL rep jersey this year and bagging 40 goals.
“I’ve always said to myself that I would be very uncomfortable with the thought of fading out through poor form,” said Trewhella, who works at a digital marketing agency by day. It’s a classic old argument and Trow leans toward the idea that it’s ‘better to burn out than to fade away.’
A relative late comer to football at 15, Trewhella learnt to ply his trade in the backline on the ovals around Geelong for South Barwon, where he got his first taste of success. Then, as legend has it, Aspley’s Mark Perkins lured him to Queensland where he played in the NEAFL, before finding his way to Wilston Grange.
“I reckon the first six years of my career I didn’t leave the goalsquare,” said Trow.
“I played on big strong country full (forwards) and it was literally just a wrestling match for two and a half hours.
“I was always a shocking kick for goal that was the issue. I’d get the ball, it would be ten meters out and it would be an uncertainty.”
He has a laugh, but in his last two QAFL games he’s kicked seven and five goals – definitely not an amateur goal kicker.
As someone who’s always had coaching in the back of their mind as a future prospect, one of the things Trewhella loves about footy is passing on his knowledge to those coming through, but even more than that, he loves the ‘community’ aspect.
“Footy is all about networks and connecting people, and you look at the clubs that are really successful, they’ve got a strong network off field, great relationships and that’s fundamentally what we try to do at the club,” said Trewhella.
“I got different things out of the year in terms of learning to develop relationships, just as a player, with some of the other players and learnt to support younger guys in their development – and I probably got more out of that this year, and I’m really comfortable walking away in some half decent form.”
Considering Trewhella’s long list of achievements as a player, as well as his experience as a coach both in the QAFL and with the Brisbane Lions Academy, a coaching position seems inevitable. Though while he is likely to head in that direction, it won’t be his first port of call.
“I’m really keen to take up a role on the committee next year and I’m pretty keen to pursue that off field role,” he said.
“I’m a firm believer that the club have given me a lot of opportunities and supported me over the last five or six years, so I’d love to give back to them.”
Trewhella has had plenty of influences along the road, but one that stands out for him is former Carlton coach Wayne Brittain. It’s like you can hear Brittain’s words, when Trewhella is talking about his passion for community footy and his lack of interest in the clinical nature of AFL at the highest level.
“He really reinvigorated my love of footy and coaching and getting the most out of yourself,” said Trewhella.
On Saturday afternoon at Surfers Paradise Trewhella will line up for the Gorillas for the last time, but his footy journey is far from over.
Another one of his mentors, coach Nathan Clarke, has signed on to coach the Gorillas again in 2018 and with Trow now looking to join the committee, their off-field community is growing stronger.
By Sean Melrose