By Jackson Russell
Wallan legend Matt Bell celebrated a rarely-reached milestone at the weekend, playing his 400th game for Wallan Football Netball Club.
Bell’s taken on every role possible at the club from playing to coaching and being part of the committee during his 28 years with the Magpies.
Wallan president Steve Shephard said Bell was known at the club as a ‘local legend’.
“He’s done everything, he’s a great clubman,” he said.
“He’s been here all his life, he hasn’t gone anywhere.
“It’s a good thing for the club culture because it shows the young guys that you can hang around where you’re born and bred, and you can play good footy.”
Bell said he was proud to be part of the club for so long.
“The loyalty’s gone out of local footy a little bit but I’m proud that I’ve been able to hang around for 28 years now,” he said.
“Whether it’s footy or cricket, Wallan has been my life. This footy club has been a big part of it. I’ve been here since I was seven, I’m now 35 and I’ve met lots of great people here.”
Bell started his career with the junior club in 1991 at seven-years-old, playing more than 100 games before making his senior debut on his 17th birthday in 2000 against Melton Centrals.
The same year, he also played in his first under 18s premiership.
The following year, Bell was named vice-captain and won runner-up best and fairest as the Magpies’ under 18s won back-to-back premiership.
He also represented the Riddell District Football Netball League in interleague competition and was selected for the Vic Metro representative team.
With Wallan moving from the RDFNL to the Northern Football Netball League in 2002, the under 19s won their third-straight premiership while Bell was also named Best First Year Senior Player.
Two years later, Bell finished second in the club best and fairest and played his 100th senior game.
In 2011, he was appointed as senior captain and also started coaching as an assistant for the under 18s.
While coaching the reserves, Bell played his 250th game in 2015. He still coaches the reserves as well as his two sons Zac and Kade in the under 13s.
Bell also helps out with Auskick where his daughter Zoe has started her football career.
He said the milestone was as much about his family as it was about himself.
“Thanks to the wife and the kids, they’ve had to put up with a lot. They love their footy and love coming to watch me. Today’s about them as well,” he said.
“My wife Shona, we’ve been together for 19 years and she comes and watches most games so I have to give her a big thanks as well.”
Bell said he would continue on after 400 games and wasn’t planning to stop any time soon.