You suspect that excitement was the last emotion Matt Gillham expected to experience as he walked off Scully Park on Saturday following a 38-0 loss to Group 19.
But moments later, that is the feeling which coursed through his compact body after he was a surprise inclusion at hooker in the Greater Northern Tigers’ Country Championships squad.
Gillham – who started the Bushrangers’ first game on Saturday, a 28-12 loss to Group 21, on the bench – was surprised as anyone by his debut selection for the Tigers.
The 23-year-old answered “not really” when asked if he gave himself much chance of becoming a Tiger, adding: “I’ve been sort of kicking around the Group 4 for a few years.”
“It sure does,” he added, to confirm that his selection means a lot to him.
So I’m a bit excited and nervous at the same time, I think – just excited.Matt Gillham
Born and bred in Boggabri, the apprentice fitter machinist was with the Kangaroos when they transitioned from the now-defunct second division to first grade last season.
But while the Kangaroos struggled throughout the season, Gillham experienced the personal satisfaction of making his first Bushrangers side.
On Saturday, a typically hot day, Gillham started at rake for Group 4’s second match. He was “pretty happy” with his overall performance on the day.
“It’s always good to play with boys that are your age and are a lot more skilled. Club footy is always a bit steadier and whatnot. So it’s good to play a lot quicker [football].”
He said Boggabri, as a community, would be chuffed over his Tigers selection.
“The whole Boggabri community’s quite involved in the football,” he said. “It’s quite loud when you get to games, so I think they’ll be quite happy [by his selection].”