NTFL. The season ended for the Van Diemen’s Land Smithton Saints on Saturday, as Senior player Josh Smith called time on his football career.
Despite the Saints’ 107-point loss to Wynyard, the day was highlighted by Smith’s emotional send-off at the end of the match, with teammates helping to celebrate his 100-plus games played for the club over the past eight years.
But while the 30-year-old said it was the right time to step away, he admitted he would miss the comradery and the feeling of stepping out onto the ground.
“I’ve always said to myself if I’m playing good footy at the age of 30, I’d prefer to go out while I’m still doing well – on my own terms,” Smith said.
“It definitely wasn’t easy . . . There’s something about running out on the field with your mates: I know that won’t be there again.”
Smith, who is now married with two young daughters, had previously played for North Hobart in the Tasmanian State League and Port Adelaide in the South Australian National Football League before moving to Smithton to play.
In a fitting touch, Smith was able to play his final match alongside brother Chris and close friend Peter Brown, who was called up from the Reserves.
While unfortunate to not win a premiership over his time, “playing alongside my brother” was his response to his career highlight. “That’s what I thought of the most in my last game: how lucky I’ve been to have had that,” he said.
In the Seniors’ final game for 2014, they started promisingly in front of a home crowd, trailing by just seven points at quarter time.
Wynyard showed why they have remained unbeaten throughout the season in the second however, kicking eight goals to two and breaking away to a healthy 48-point lead by half time.
Smithton could only manage one more goal in the second half, as the Cats piled on another 10 to take the game out of reach and further emphasise their own finals credentials heading into next weekend.
Connor Bramich took his season tally to 51 with two goals for the Saints, with Matt Elliott and Tyson Armstrong named among the best on ground.
Smithton’s Reserves were unlucky to miss out on finals in their last game of the season, going down to Wynyard by 75 points and finishing fifth below Penguin by just over one per cent in for-and-against scoring.
The U/19s remain the club’s solo hope for silverware, as they finished in third despite a 101-point loss to the Cats. They will play Latrobe in the first semi final.
The club also held its Best and Fairest vote count on Sunday: Scott Bryan earned his fourth medal with 84 votes in the Seniors; Nic Bellinger won the plaudits by a vote in the Reserves with 34; and Jaiden Crole (43) edging ahead by the same margin over Josh Kidman in the U/19s.