Matt Noonan’s return to first grade this season will give him the opportunity to celebrate his 250th game for Wagga Tigers on the big stage.
Noonan will enjoy his 250th game in the yellow and back when he runs out against Coolamon at Kindra Park on Sunday.
“You play footy because you love it but to get to these sort of milestones at the one club is pretty good, I suppose,” Noonan said.
“It’s a club I love and enjoy and I’m definitely happy with it, that’s for sure. I would like to get to 300 but time is running out.”
The 36-year-old has enjoyed a surprise return to first grade this season as Tigers coach Shaun Campbell looked for some experience to mix among the plethora of teenagers in the senior team.
The recall to first grade comes after a few years co-coaching reserve grade.
While it has been tough with Tigers only winning a couple of games, Noonan has enjoyed the challenge.
“Definitely, being back in that competitiveness,” he said.
“It was great in twos, doing what I’m doing, the last few years were a lot of fun but first grade is a little bit more pressure and it’s a bit more combative. You’re there a bit more to win and you’re playing with blokes that want to be the best they can be.
“If you had have told me I would be playing (first grade) all season long I wouldn’t have believed you. I thought my time was up a couple of times but unavailability and those sort of things have helped my cause.”
Noonan said the season has been rewarding.
“It’s been a challenge...but my role within the team has been for a bit of guidance and just to have another older face around the place,” he said.
“It’s been refreshing, playing in such a young group. They’re all eager and our last month of footy has shown what the years ahead will look like potentially.
“We’ve had 10-12 weeks together now and it’s all clicking. The start of the year none of us had played together, me included, so it took some time.”
Noonan rates the 2007 premiership as the highlight of his career.
Primarily a key defender, Noonan has accomplished a lot since making his senior debut for Tigers in 2001.
He has coached the club’s under 17 and reserve grade teams to premierships. He has also been the Riverina League under 17 representative coach for the past few years.
Noonan also spent four seasons at Griffith, where he coached the club in 2010.
“The 2007 premiership was a pretty good highlight but so was coaching the senior side over in Griffith,” he said.
“I had a lot of fun at the club over there and made some lifelong friends.”
Noonan rates Heath Grundy, James Kavanagh and Ben Perkins as his toughest opponents through his career.
He rates Matt Walder, Steven Priest, Andrew Priest, Nathan McDonald, Mick Duncan and Shaun Campbell as the best players he played alongside.
Noonan thanked his wife Kellie, kids Tayte, Axil and Lily for their support throughout his career, along with his extended family, both footy clubs and his peers.