After 100 games and one win most footballers would give up, but not Jake Stuart

ABC Great Southern

By Ellie Honeybone

Posted

August 12, 2018 06:15:00

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Jake Stuart is as dedicated as ever to the Albany Sharks – despite the league team only recording one win since their inaugural season in 2012. (ABC Great Southern: Ellie Honeybone)
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Albany 6330
They told him to learn how to lose before he could learn how to win and that has certainly been the reality for Jake Stuart.The West Australian footballer will become the Albany Sharks’ first league player to reach 100 games today, with just one lone victory along the way. Photo:
Jake Stuart in action for the Sharks. (Supplied: Jake Stuart)
While most country football teams are accustomed to winning, that one fateful victory was treated as a premiership for the Albany Sharks.”There was a lot of emotion that day, fans stormed the field and it was pretty insane,” Stuart said.”Amongst all the ups and downs we had this historic moment.”That is one of the main things I try to impart with the younger guys at the club — stick with it.”During this season we have really started to create a winning mentality.”A lot of people say you have to learn to be able to lose before you can learn how to win and we certainly have done that.”Searching for that second winAll the pieces are there, and Stuart believes it is just a matter of getting it together for four full quarters of footy.”We get ahead of ourselves if we get in front and we have lost games in the second half during the last few weeks,” he said.”I think another win is not far off but it probably won’t be this week.”For his milestone game, Stuart just hopes to make it through without another injury.”I am really looking forward to it, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on it because at the end of the day, it’s just another game of footy,” he said.”I think it’s just really important we just enjoy ourselves and get to crack a beer together at the end of the day.”While another victory is a goal for the club veteran, he is realistic about his chances of a premiership.”If one day I could be sitting in the grandstands watching the young guys I coached come through and win a premiership — that would be end goal for me,” Stuart said. Sharks president Geoff Oldfield is hoping the boys will recognise the dedication it takes to reach 100 games when they run out for this afternoon.”Stuart is a good boy,” he said.”He has stuck with the club through thick and thin.”Not many players would have hung around for this long with only one win.”Hopefully the boys perform accordingly, and show their appreciation during the game.”Mr Oldfield believes the Sharks are only three or four quality players away from being right up there with the rest of the league.”We have great junior sides, we’ve won premierships with our under 16 team,” he said.”At the end of the day, we have a pretty bright future and Albany needs the Sharks.”If it weren’t for us, there would be 100 young men unable to play footy each week and that would be a sad reality.”Victory day

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Jake Stuart celebrates with his teammates after the Albany Sharks one league victory in 2015. (ABC Great Southern: Ellie Honeybone)
Since the Sharks inaugural season in 2012, Stuart has only ever missed three games.He previously lived in Perth and said back then he could not commit to training or the lifestyle that came with football.”I only played one season up there and then I took a bit of a sabbatical,” he said.”It was one of my biggest regrets — the sense of community and mateship that you get with country football is like nothing else and once you let it go, its really hard to find again.”Stuart’s dad was a foundation member of the Sharks club so after he moved down to Albany, the decision of which team to play for was a pretty easy to make.”There’s no big secret to playing so many games, you have to just play through injuries and don’t let your body tell you otherwise,” he said.”There was only a couple of times, regardless of the amount of strapping on my knee and how adamant I was that I was going to play, that the decision to rest was made for me.”It just takes resilience, that’s all I can tell you.”Creating culture during a losing streakStuart said the Sharks league team started out as the scraps of the Great Southern Football League. (Supplied: Jake Stuart)
“There were very few of us that were committed, and a lot of guys were doubling up, playing two games every week just to get the league and reserves sides on the field,” he said.”These days we’ve moved away from that culture, but we are still always looking to recruit more and offer people an opportunity to come play footy.”It takes full commitment and it’s a long season so the weaker minded have fallen by the wayside and the ones that are here are the kind of guys you really playing by your side.”Along with his position on the league side, Stuart also coaches the under 14 side and often arrives at training an hour early to help with the colts. Photo:
Jake Stuart hopes to add another 50 games to his record with the Albany Sharks. (ABC Great Southern: Ellie Honeybone) While his team’s lack of success would surely be enough to scare off most prospective players, Stuart’s dedication has never faltered.”This milestone is a sign of maturity for us as a club,” he said.”We only played our 100th game as a group a couple of weeks ago so this is a real stepping stone towards becoming a legitimate team in this town.”We are not the new guys on the block anymore and we’ve really started to be competitive, not just on the scoreboard.”Twenty-eight year-old Stuart said the gratification that comes with building a football club from scratch was worth far more than any immediate success.”A trade is not something I ever considered,” he said.”I have had the talk with a couple of people from other clubs and they have always said they would never want to take me away from the Sharks.”It takes a special person to be able to lose and keep focused on the long-term, big-picture goals, and I think I’m perfectly equipped for it.”It has never crossed my mind to play for anyone else.”Resilience is the key

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Jake Stuart is the first Albany Sharks league player to reach the 100 game milestone.