Group 4 grand final: Ageless North Tamworth Bears No.1 Chris Hunt man of the match

AGELESS TREAT: Chris Hunt is tackled by Hayden Jaeger, as the veteran Bears fullback finds a higher gear on the biggest stage. Photo: Gareth Gardner
AGELESS TREAT: Chris Hunt is tackled by Hayden Jaeger, as the veteran Bears fullback finds a higher gear on the biggest stage. Photo: Gareth Gardner

There are surely some negatives associated with being a 37-year-old footballer.

It probably takes the body longer to recover after a match. Young teammates might refer to you as pops or granddad. Nosey journos keep mentioning your age, hanging every story about you on those two prime digits.

So yes, there are undoubtedly age-related issues that 37-year-old Bears fullback Chris Hunt has to deal with, but many a much younger player would love to deliver on the field like him.

And deliver he did against Gunnedah in the grand final at Jack Woolaston Oval on Sunday, producing a man of the match display in which he atoned for an early error under a high ball by seemingly not making another mistake, while also injecting himself into the attack with the vim of a 21-year-old.

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Big-bodied and a silky mover, the personal trainer was a constant threat, including when he charged on to a ball close to the Bulldogs’ tryline and offloaded for Mitchell Sheridan to score and establish a 28-22 lead in the second half.

He said he “fed off” the younger players in the side, and consequently, he felt younger.

“If I wasn’t playing football I’d probably be getting around telling myself that I’m old,” he said. “But while I’m here playing football and keeping on top of my fitness, I still feel young. I feel like I’ve still got a few more years in me yet.”

Hunt’s not sure how many first-grade premierships he has won – “seven or eight”. The former West Lion knows what it is like to lose a grand final to North Tamworth, having lost “two or three” to the Bears. He rejoined Norths this season from Group 21 side Aberdeen.

POWER PLAY: Hunt tests Matt Brady's defence with a typically strong run. Photo: Gareth Gardner

POWER PLAY: Hunt tests Matt Brady's defence with a typically strong run. Photo: Gareth Gardner

Given his pedigree in season finales, he knows how to savour every moment of the experience – the blur often associated with the first time on a big stage not a factor for him.

He also knows how to win: “I don't know what it is, I can’t sort of explain it. But even out on the field, when it’s neck and neck and you've got eight [minutes] to go, you still have that belief. You’ve sort of been in that situation before, and you know what it takes to get you through to the end of that game.”