ONE of Nyora’s favourite sons, Matt ‘Nugget’ Layton, was able to celebrate his 350th club game in the best possible fashion after his side won its first game for the season against Catani at home on Saturday.
Layton, 40, is the senior captain this year and is playing some of the best footy of his career.
He was, as usual, at the bottom of the packs and doing the heavy lifting in what was another honest, workmanlike performance for the Saints.
Layton joined Nyora in 1993 after Loch folded at the end of 1992.
He had established himself as a senior player at Loch but had to earn his spot in the ones at Nyora and did so with his trademark grit and determination.
He’s now played 182 games in the seniors and 168 in the reserves.
Layton has coached the fourths, thirds and reserves and won numerous awards at both senior and reserve level.
He made the 2000-2010 team of the decade, and in 2004, was made a life member of the club.
Teammate Sam Collis has played alongside him throughout his footy career.
“He’s old school,” Sam said.
“Matt has three brothers and two sisters and he’s the youngest, so he learned to fend for himself pretty early and you can see it in the way he plays.”
So it’s no wonder he’s won many trophies engraved with ‘Most Determined’ and ‘Most Courageous’.
Both Matt and Sam would freely admit that when the Saints are successful at senior level, they’ll be both running around in the twos.
But with the club struggling this season, it needed a leader to stand up, and ‘Nugget’ has been the man.
“Last year he played 50/50 between the reserves and seniors, but he had possibly his biggest preseason ever this year and was really committed,” Sam said.
“He started eating well and looking after himself, and was at the front of every group during the preseason so he had to be made captain.”
Sam said Matt has a real presence on the field, and makes the young players play with confidence.
“By no means is he the best player, but he’s part of a group of five or six running through the midfield and plays an important role.”
Sam and Matt share the reserves coaching role, and despite his obvious leadership ability, Sam says Nugget hates the limelight.
“He likes to keep a low profile and gets embarrassed by the attention. He said if there was going to be a banner, he wouldn’t be running through it.”
Sam’s brother Andrew, the club president, played his 150th game, also on Saturday, providing even more reason to celebrate the win.
Former teammates were invited to come along to a special presentation on Saturday night.
The party, apparently, continued on Sunday.