Victor Harbor Football Club captain Matthew Hodge (pictured) was instrumental in South Australia’s 42-point win over Western Australia in a state country match at Brownes Stadium, Perth, on Saturday.
“It was great experience,” Hodge said. “I always enjoy playing ‘rep’ footy. You get the chance to go away with new blokes, and the standard of footy obviously lifts a great deal when you play alongside or against the best country players of both states.”
Hodge, who had 28 disposals, was playing his fifth game for the state, was the only GSFL player named in the side. SA won 13.7 (85) to 6.7 (43).
“I haven’t played AFL, but given all of the circumstances I guess I have played the next best thing,” he said. “I enjoy my footy with Victor Harbor, and right now that’s all that matters.”
Hodge was an All-Australian under 18, and toured Ireland with the national U18 side in 2002. However, he had his left thumb shattered during a tour match. He later trained with AFL club Port Adelaide for a few months, and the club said it would offer him an opportunity should he completely recover from the thumb injury and return to state football. However, the injury took longer to heal, and after missing the entire 2003 season his AFL opportunity disappeared.
After two SANFL league games with South Adelaide, he played at Morphett Vale for two seasons and has played for Victor Harbor the past six.
“In a sense I regret not staying in the AFL system,” Hodge said. “I have a lot mates who are playing AFL now, but that’s the journey football takes you.”