BOUND FOR THE HALLOWED TURF: Lismore’s Matt Lodge, who will play on the MCG on Saturday ahead of the AFL grand final.
BOUND FOR THE HALLOWED TURF: Lismore’s Matt Lodge, who will play on the MCG on Saturday ahead of the AFL grand final. MARK ELLIS/NORTHERN RIVERS SPORTING IMAGES

MCG dream a reality for Matt

AS a youngster growing up in Melbourne, Matt Lodge lived right around the corner from the MCG. And on Saturday he will step on to the hallowed turf as a player in one of the early curtain-raisers to the AFL grand final between St Kilda and Geelong.

The Trinity Catholic College, Lismore, student will line up with the Queensland Under-16 side as it takes on the NSW-ACT Rams in the NAB AFL Under-16 championships division two grand final.

For Matt, 15, it's the culmination of a 'lifelong' dream.

“When we played at the national championships down in Blacktown, western Sydney in July, we sort of set ourselves the goal to try to be at the MCG at the end of the year,” Lodge said.

“We had to win all three of our games to do that, and once we did that, we had a couple of weeks off and then it's been eight weeks of solid training.

“Now that it is getting close, I am extremely excited but the coaches have told us to try to contain our excitement until we get down there, and once we walk out, try to not get overawed by the whole thing.”

“I haven't played at the MCG but I have been a spectator there.

“When we lived in Melbourne eight years ago we lived right around the corner from the MCG and the big games like Anzac Day and the Queen's Birthday attracted crowds of about 80,000 to 90,000 people.”

Matt and his parents have been clocking up the kilometres as he travels to Brisbane to train and the Gold Coast to play for Tweed-Coolangatta Blues.

Matt has been playing in Under-16 and Under-18 competitions and for the representative side Gold Coast Stingrays.

The former Byron Magpie is also into his second year of a three-year scholarship with AFL glamour club Carlton.

But given that he supports Carlton's arch rivals, Collingwood, his loyalties are divided.

“Originally I was a Collingwood supporter but certainly in the past couple of years I've swung my loyalties towards Carlton,” Matt said.

“It would absolutely be my dream to play for Carlton in the AFL or any of the other AFL clubs.”

And on Saturday, at least, he will get his first taste of what AFL football may be like.



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