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Boydy: From rookie to role model

This story was originally published on June 8.

It will be a pleasure to see my long-term friend and teammate Matthew Boyd equal the record for most games off a rookie list when he returns to the side.

But a personal accolade will mean very little to him, Boydy is a guy that has always had a team-first attitude although he’ll probably be a little flattered and surprised.

Whether he has the record or not, it won’t change him at all, he’ll take it in his stride and continue to work as he ever has. Personally, I’m thrilled for him and he thoroughly deserves it, he can add it to the long list of achievements that he does have. It’s fitting that he has that record.

Having come off the rookie list myself I know just how hard it can be to earn your place, which makes the record even more outstanding.

For starters, coming off a rookie list is a tough gig — maintaining that spot on the rookie list, doing all the work, knowing that there is a possibility that you won’t play footy. It all takes its toll.

When Boydy started on the rookie list, it was bittersweet knowing that a teammate had to get injured for you to get onto the senior list to be able to play a game. The amount of training, the amount of work you do for the possibility of getting onto the senior list is a tough position to be in.

I spent four years training and trying out for the Dogs before I was rookie-listed in 2005, so I got to see Boydy at the beginning of his career. One of the earliest things I remember was just how hard this guy worked, and when I did join the club my perceptions of him only strengthened.

He was forever bettering himself on the field, and in the gym he never wasted a session. Then off the field he was always looking to develop himself as a person and a player. The amount of work he did to improve his leadership was just huge.

It’s a big reason why he has been such a strong leader over a long period of time and has also captained the club he loves through some of its toughest times. In my eyes, he was the perfect guy to lead the club during those tough years because of all the work he had done on himself, which set an example for all of us.

He has always tried to make this club a better place and his goal would be to try and leave it in a better position than it was in when he started, he’s doing exactly that.

It’s just not the on-field stuff where the club has improved, in terms of the obvious wins and losses. Boydy is always looking to develop and drive the culture, the standards, the expectations of the club, just overall making it better.

Last year’s premiership was a reward for all of that. I don’t think words can describe the feelings you have during that time. For him to go through what he has, he’s been through the lowest of lows and now the highest of highs, it’s fitting for him to have that reward, having gone through the blood, sweat and tears.

But perhaps what stands out to me most is how Boydy has handled himself off the field.

He was there for me in one of the darkest times of my career. After breaking my tibia and fibula against Essendon in 2011, I was taken to hospital and Boydy didn’t even go home after the game, he came to see me straight away. I’ll never forget it, he didn’t have to be there, he wanted to be there.

He didn’t say anything, he just sat down next to me and put his hand on my arm and just rested it there. I don’t think words can describe how that made me feel, knowing that he chose to help me through this terrible time. That moment would have been a lot harder without him there, it felt special for him to care so much.

We talk about how serious, competitive and hard-nosed Boydy is but those things a lot of people don’t see. He will do anything for the players because he cares for these boys and this club so much.

He has been able to adapt and change over the years without losing that serious side and he actually cracks gags now.

Boydy is a non-compromising, dedicated, professional athlete, but his family always comes first. At home with Kate and the kids he loves them like you wouldn’t believe. He will do anything for the people he loves and cares about.

I still look up to him for what he has achieved at the club and as a person. That will never change.

Well done Boydy.