By Jason Bennett, June 6 2024

Original article found here: https://www.vafa.com.au/news/2024/06/06/willy-cyms-duo-join-the-200-club/

200 VAFA games is a rare achievement, so for a club to have two players reach this great milestone in the space of two months is truly something to celebrate.

Lachlan McKenzie & Matt Carland have been around Williamstown CYMS for most of their adult lives.

Lachlan relocated from Bendigo to Melbourne in 2006 and had a friend playing at the club invite him along to train.

“I think it might have been the only western suburbs club at the time,” Lach recalls.

“They’ve been a constant ever since I moved to Melbourne. That extra layer of community.”

McKenzie quickly became a much-loved cult hero. His brilliant marking prowess saw him nicknamed the ‘Glove’ by admiring teammates and the name stuck.

‘Glove’ has served all levels of the club but made a name for himself as a member of the mighty Thirds, winning premierships in 2017 and 2019.

“That flag in 2017 was the first Thirds premiership the club had ever won,” said McKenzie. “It meant so much, particularly given we’d lost one a couple of years earlier. We won another in 2019, then lost to Mazenod in overtime in 2022 – that was a disaster, but it’s all part of the ups and downs of the journey.”

Recently he ran out for his 200th game against Collegians – a milestone 19 seasons in the making.

“200 had been on my radar for a couple of years and it meant a lot because I’ve played alongside some of these guys for over a decade and we’ve gone through different stages of our career together – we’re a bit of a ‘Band of Brothers.’ So to share that day with them was great.”

Lachlan celebrated in fine style, booting a personal best 8 goals in a huge win in front of a large group of family and friends on a great day for the club.

“My previous best was 5. I was actually just hoping to kick one to make my family and friends proud. But it was one of those days. Everything seemed to line up perfectly. Every mark seemed to stick and I kicked straight (8.1), which doesn’t always happen!!”

“Glove is a terrific club man and teammate,” said coach Matthew Wynd.

“I’ve been fortunate to coach Lachlan for seven years and from week-to-week he can fill a spot for me down back or up forward. It’s been a pleasure to coach him and enjoy the ultimate success a few times… Just don’t rely on him to nail a set shot for your life!!”

“I’ve been really lucky with injuries,” said McKenzie. “I had a medial in 2020 just as the season got cancelled, so I didn’t miss any footy and I had a second medial this year but – touch wood – no serious soft-tissue injuries along the way.

“If the body co-operates, I’ll go around again next year. My two daughters (Elke 9 and Ines 7) have started taking an interest this year. My daughter wants to run water and gave the half-time speech in my 200th. I’d only kicked 3 at that stage, so she must have said something right!

“I’m really grateful to my wife Kate, who had to carry the load on weekends particularly when the kids were younger. They have an all-girls clinic at school and there’s two girls teams at Willy now so it would be fantastic if they become Seagulls in the future!”

For McKenzie, it’s about more than just the game itself.

“Footy has been a great release. It’s a chance to switch off from the grind of work and connect with guys that I love but don’t get to see 52 weeks of the year. We train hard on a Wednesday night and then have a beer after training. We have fun on Saturdays but we’re out there to win as well. It’s great to still have that camaraderie at 41 years old.

“You go down the local shops or the pub and you’ll find someone you know from the footy club. It’s about mateship and support for a lot of us. It’s been great for my physical and mental health.”

Matt Carland arrived at CYMS in 2009, having come straight out of the Willy Juniors pipeline. He immediately impressed by running rings around his older teammates and winning the time trials.

“I was just a skinny little kid,” Matt recalls. “I came into an older crowd who were nearing the end of their careers. Now I’m at that stage and I’ve been so lucky to be a part of three generations, which has been amazing for networking and getting to know people. There’s been so much help and support along the way.”

Now a wily veteran, the three-time premiership player also racked up his 200th game a few weeks ago.

“I’ve only ever played at Williamstown. I’ve never pulled on another jumper.

“I’ve played with some of my best mates and my favourite thing about the last fifteen years is how we’ve changed the culture. Clubs were generally very blokey when I started but over time it’s become a family environment – much more inviting and inclusive.

“Whatever you put into something, you generally get back in return, but this is such an awesome club – it’s given me ten times as much. It’s opened my eyes to a large group of great people that I otherwise wouldn’t know.”

With his 35th birthday approaching, Matt’s body has been through the wringer over the past 15 years.

“I’ve snapped my arm, had numerous soft tissue injuries, shoulder joints, torn a ligament in my knee. But you know what? I’d do it all again.

“The funny thing is that I’m not a big lover of footy. I loved it as a kid, but over time you realise that playing at a high level isn’t everything. For us veterans, it’s a bit of fun and a great social and mental health outlet. It’s like Auskick all over again – you’re just there for some innocent fun to enjoy yourself. It’s footy’s Circle of Life!

“I’ve coached Matty for more than ten years and he too is a great club man and teammate,” said Wynd.

“Matty is fun to coach and watch from the sidelines with his antics, whether it be telling the opposition to ‘leave it’ when in their vicinity to hiding behind the goalpost so no-one can see him or pretending to be on the bench when he is on the field.

“The amount of times I’ve sucked the umpire in to give me a free kick!” Matt laughs.

“I’m probably lucky there weren’t cameras around back then. I did get away with a few tricks and play a few mental games. But once the final siren goes – shake hands, have a chat, a joke and a laugh.”

“We’ve had many discussions on how the team should be coached and play,” laughs Wynd. “Matty – stick to playing, buddy!!”

Football clubs are an ever-changing collection of people who come and go. Some stay longer than others, leaving an indelible imprint with their loyalty, commitment and character.

The VAFA is built on heart-and-soul characters like Lachlan McKenzie and Matt Carland and we congratulate them on their 200 games of service for CYMS and wish them all the best for the rest of the season.

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