Sloan notches up 200th game

By Meg Saultry

The football career of Nagambie’s Michael Sloan is a lot closer to the end than the start.

But in the Lakers’ round three reserves match against Avenel last month, the 34-year-old reached a major milestone that would impress anyone: He reached his 200th senior game.

Much like the man himself, the occasion was a no-fuss affair, with the milestone only briefly touched upon by the club before the match.

Growing up in Nagambie, the Lakers were all Sloan knew. He played where he lived and rose through the ranks of his home town’s football club.

As the years passed, the mixed farmer built his own life in Nagambie with his wife and daughter.

And the Lakers continue to feature heavily in Sloan’s life, especially on game day.

But the midfielder’s feelings about the sport he’s played his whole life are certainly changing as he grows older.

‘‘As a younger bloke you were always looking up to the older players, and now you’re older you’re not as enthused,’’ Sloan said.

‘‘You just keep playing while you can. You’re a long time dead.’’

Throughout his years with the Lakers, Sloan has seen plenty of success at the club.

Nagambie won senior flags in 2010 and 2014 and while Sloan played a handful of games in the senior side during those years, he unfortunately didn’t feature in the premierships.

But Sloan was lucky enough to win a flag himself two years later, playing and coaching Nagambie’s reserves team to the 2016 premiership — the club’s first reserves flag in almost 30 years.

The seniors soon made it the double, winning their own premiership flag later that day.

For Sloan, it was the coaching aspect to the 2016 season that proved the most challenging.

‘‘One week you had 20-plus players and the next week there was 16. But we worked through it and we were lucky to win one,’’ he said.

Reflecting on Nagambie’s season so far, Sloan said the senior side would be around the mark again this year.

‘‘It was a slow start, but they got over Avenel (in round three) and are now on the board,’’ he said.

And when pressed on his own form, there’s a no-fuss response.

‘‘I just battle in the reserves,’’ Sloan said.

‘‘I’m happy to get a kick.’’