Why Eagles' 250 gamer so fiercely loyal to Ipswich
AUSSIE RULES: Preparing for his 250th match on Saturday, dependable Ipswich Eagles player Chris "Fatty'' Devlin jokes he keeps powering on rather than having explosive speed.
However, such is his fierce competitiveness and commitment to the team that the wise midfielder doesn't need extra pace these days.
"I just have one speed mate,'' he said, showing his sense of humour. "I just roll them over all day.''
When he runs through the banner marking his magic milestone on Saturday afternoon, Devlin will join an elite group of Ipswich footballers to have played so many games for one club.
"It's good. Only a handful of people have done it,'' Devlin said, having started at the club aged 17.
"You don't realise how long you've been there for.''
Turning 34 this year, Devlin has spent all but one of his 15 seasons based at Limestone Park. The other sole season was with Sherwood in the higher QAFL competition to see if he could progress his football further.
But after learning so much, he returned to familiar Ipswich territory. Devlin quickly re-established himself as one of the Eagles' most successful footballers in the QFA Division 3 competition.
"I love it,'' he said. "There's a really good bunch of blokes down there this year.
"The culture is rebuilding to what it was back when I first started playing.''
Devlin happily accepted the co-captaincy role with Matthew Sheridan, a task he embraced along with his other many duties including helping the club's junior and women's players.
"It's a long time to stay loyal to a place really,'' he said. "You have to enjoy it though.''
Fatty's wife Michelle is another valuable helper, overseeing the canteen at Limestone Park. Their children Olive, 6, and Jude, 4, have plenty of willing babysitters who enjoy watching the footy at a family club like the Eagles.
"Everyone knows them so it's really good down there. They love it,'' Fatty said.
While proud of his service to the Ipswich club, Devlin would give up "more than 100 games'' to share in a premiership triumph.
He's played in four losing senior grand finals and coached a fifth in Reserve Grade while recovering from a knee reconstruction.
"I'd definitely swap more than 100 to be honest,'' Devlin said of the opportunity to celebrate a premiership with his beloved Ipswich team.
"One, just for the club; and two, personally just for all the hard work that's been put in from everyone.
"It would reward every-body, not just myself.''
That includes Devlin's long-time mates and club past presidents.
Devlin and current head coach Kym Mansell are the only two people involved in all the Eagles' grand finals.
Mansell played more than 300 matches.
Working as a service manager at Innotec, the Springfield Lakes sportsman is encouraged by his team's progress this season as it works towards winning that elusive grand final.
"We're not playing the best footy. We're getting the wins,'' the midfielder said, preparing for Saturday's twilight match against Redcliffe at Mark Marsh Oval.
"We're grounding out wins.
"At some point, it's going to click and we're going to start playing some really, really good football.
"Last week was really good. We started to actually play the way we want to play.''
While Saturday's game has added personal meaning, Devlin is also pleased to share in the annual Indigenous round, just weeks after honouring the Anzacs.
"It's really good to pay any respect you can,'' he said.
A small Indigenous ceremony is planned for 4.30pm before the main game at 4.45pm.