Clarke making his mark after code switch

By Mitchell Kerr
Returning from a match with the North Coast Australian Football League (AFL) representative side, Nambucca Valley Lion Aaron Clarke arrived home with his proudest sporting achievement to date.

Securing a 120-point win over the opposition, Clarke kicked seven goals for his team, the most points he has ever scored in the sport. He also received the player’s player and the best-on-ground awards for his efforts.

In previous reports from North Coast AFL, publicity has placed Clarke as the favourite to win the season’s best-and-fairest award.

Clarke said it was his second time playing in the representative side, making the cut in 2009.

“I was stoked, they must have liked what I did last year,” he said.

Clarke said that when the team arrived in Armidale for the match and saw the other team warming up he thought, “What are we in for?”.

“A 17-year-old, taller than me, was playing in the ruck,” he said.

“Some were bigger, taller and wider, but slow and pretty average.

“It was good just to meet other players, giving me plenty of confidence.”

Looking beyond North Coast AFL, Clarke said if the opportunity to play at the next level came up he would give it a go, but at the moment he was enjoying playing the sport.

Clarke has played rugby league since he was a kid, but made the switch to AFL last year.

“I was just keen for a change, my mates were playing it so I decided to give it a go and I enjoyed it,” he said.

Clarke’s grandfather Ron Mackay has been a strong supporter of his actions on the field.

“He gets his abilities from me. They don’t give me the credit so I have to get it myself,” laughed Mr Mackay.

“He is an all-round sportsman and a pretty good golfer.

“It’s in the genes.”

When asked where he gets the energy from, Clarke said he was an Uncle Toby’s kid.

“He eats like three men,” Mr Mackay said.

Proving his worth as a sportsman, Clarke plays cricket in the summer.

Last year his team finished third and he received an award for the most catches.

“I’m very proud. I hope he gets into the higher class stuff, Mr Mackay said.

“At present he only gets paid a few beers.”

“I have to pay for those beers pop,” replied Clarke.

Clarke said he loved playing the sport and was thankful of the support from his family.

“I think he owes me a couple of thousand dollars,” Mr Mackay said.

Clarke said he was enjoying himself and thought he would stick with AFL for awhile.


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