Steele Sidebottom will line up for his 250th game against North Melbourne on Saturday afternoon at Marvel Stadium. Writing for aflplayers.com.au, Collingwood teammate Jeremy Howe pens a piece on the premiership player’s friendship, growth and consistency.
By Jeremy Howe
When I made the decision to move to Collingwood and shared that with my former Melbourne teammates the first thing they said to me was the moment I’d meet Steele Sidebottom we’d become stuck together like glue.
He’s a country boy with a passion for sport – cricket, footy and golf – so we had multiple connections.
We’re wired the same and because ‘Sidey’ is such a relatable guy, I gravitated towards him.
There wouldn’t be one person that’s met him that he hasn’t left a lasting impression on.
It doesn’t matter if you’re Scott Pendlebury or one of the young draftees like Finlay Macrae, Sidey has time for everyone, including our fans.
He is always giving back to the club and Collingwood community.
He radiates positivity and very rarely do you see him not smiling with that classic, cheeky grin.
Even when he’s absolutely cooked on game day he’ll be smiling at a stoppage – you can’t help but smile back.
It’s unsurprising that Sidey is held in such high regard within the four walls of the football club.
He’s become an established leader amongst the playing group and has grown enormously in my time at the club, but I think his development as a leader came because of his evolution as a player.
Sidey has always been one of the most highly-skilled, ambidextrous players – you can’t tell if he’s left or right-footed – he can do everything well and has been an incredibly consistent performer across his career.
He’s the type of athlete who always knows what’s required and sets the standards for the group.
He has a remarkable ability to bring together the team around him on game day and does a really great job in educating them. We’re certainly better for having him around us.
One thing that has stood out in recent years is his grit and toughness as a player.
For someone that made a career and name for themselves predominantly on the wing as an outside player, he’s one of the most tough and competitive guys I’ve played with.
He’s one of the best trainers at the club and there’s a direct line there as to why he’s such a consistent player.
There’s no one specific moment that stands out in my mind where I’ve been in awe of his on-field feats, but the one thing that goes unsaid is that Steele consistently does the basics well. That’s easier said than done.
Then, in the big moments he finds a way to step up and bring the team with him. You know what you’re getting week in, week out with Steele.
I’ve been lucky enough to play with guys like that at Melbourne in Nathan Jones, and then here again at Collingwood, like Scott Pendlebury, and I would hold Steele right up there with the best of those players.
That’s what makes great players great and it’s something he’s been able to do consistently over a long period of time.
Sidey is energetic and that’s always on display but one thing Collingwood fans might not see is just how much of a big ‘softy’ he is!
Since becoming a Dad last year, I’ve seen the best version of Steele – I’ve loved every version I’ve known of him – but this one really stands out.
He’s such a girl dad and seeing him interact with his fiancée Alisha and daughter Matilda is really special.
She is exactly like Steele, always smiling and with that big grin on her face, no doubt it’ll be on display when she runs out with him this weekend.
He’s taken to fatherhood so naturally and hopefully when my turn comes around I can emulate just some of what he’s like.
250 games is a remarkable achievement and Sidey has never missed a beat.
He’s vigorous in his training and he’s always working the hardest on the track, the durability of his body and mind is outstanding.
I know he won’t admit it, but I’m sure he’s chasing down Pendles for that games record.
Saturday won’t just be another game for the club. For us, it’s a chance to celebrate an important member of our group and someone who has given so much on their significant milestone.
Even though I can’t be out there, I have no doubt the guys will be cracking in and giving 100 per cent of themselves to get the win for him.
Good luck, mate!