By Beth Newman
They’re both premiership defenders, both among their club’s most respected players, and this weekend Palm Beach’s Matt Derrick and Morningside’s Josh Brown will both play their 100th games.
For both of them, the milestone looked unlikely not that long ago and it seems fitting that the pair eventually hit triple figures on the same weekend.
Brown’s career has been interrupted by injury and after a brilliant start to the season, a quad injury ruled him out of the QAFL rep game and much of the middle of the season, leaving him stranded on 98 games, before reinjuring himself in the return match against Wilston Grange
“It’s been a long time coming,” Brown said.
The injury left with him with a decision about which Brown knows he came to the right conclusion.
“I could have shut down or worked hard and I worked hard to get myself back in,” he said.
“At the start of the year, I was playing good footy but then I did both tendons in my quad and I thought my year was done.”
In his time out, Brown has stayed involved with coaching the side, not missing a training session.
“I really tried to keep engaged with the playing group on and off the field,” he said.
“Bing one of the leaders in the backline, even whilst not playing was pivotal to me getting back out there.”
The Cairns junior has flourished at Jack Esplen Oval and has the club to thank for a lot of personal and professional support over the years.
“I think about the guys that helped me, the (David) Lillicoes and (Nick) Clarkes,” he said.
“If I can help guys like Bill Pendlebury and Ryan Johnson, I’d get a real kick out of them becoming really successful on and off the field.”
coach, David Lake, has known Brown since he moved to Brisbane and said the whole team would lift for him tomorrow.
“He’s funny, loyal, he’s got a bit of coach in him,”he said.
“He’s really good to the young fellas in the club and he loves to share his own experiences.”
In contrast to Brown, Derrick’s injury run has been very smooth, with only a shoulder reconstruction as a 17 year-old, a run he attributes to an athletics background.
A Palm Beach junior, first playing for the club as an eight year-old, Derrick made his senior debut in 2004 before a move to Brisbane saw him play for Beenleigh and Kedron, before brother, Jesse, lured him back to Salk Oval last season.
Derrick continues a long family legacy in reaching his 100th, with his father, Ley and grandfather, Ron, Palm Beach legends, and, Jesse, captaining the side.
It has been a whirlwind 18 months for Derrick since his return, with a maiden senior premiership in the SEQAFL last season and his first representative opportunity, playing for the QAFL earlier this year.
Derrick has played some of his best football since returning to the Lions and is having some of the most fun playing as well.
“Cressa (Palm Beach coach, Daryn Cresswell) got the best out of me, just in the discipline and the toughness he expects out of us,” Derrick said.
“A while ago I probably lacked a bit of motivation and I didn’t really give it 100 per cent.
“The last few years is the most I’ve enjoyed my footy.’
While their footy journeys have been very different, both milestone men have plenty to thank their respective clubs for.
Over all those years, Palm Beach has become an integral part of Derrick’s life.
‘It definitely means a lot to me to keep the family tradition, it’s a big thing for our family and something that one day we’ll look back on.”
Some of my best mates I’ve met through that footy club and I’m still quite close to them now.”
Brown is part of Morningside’s core senior group, many of whom have come through together, and whom he says he couldn’t have made it to 100 games without.
“I’ve forged some really strong friendships with guys like Nick Tomlinson, Tyson Upton, Paul Shelton and my brother, Sam,” he said.
“Without those guys I suppose making this footy journey you’d lose some passion all the way definitely help on the field and also to forge friendships off the field.