By Stuart Kavanagh
With Old Timers celebrations coming up this weekend, you’d be forgiven if you thought things couldn’t get any bigger at Northies. But you’d be wrong.
Things have ramped up a notch, with Bulldogs star centre-half forward Blake ‘Sheep’ Clare set to play his 200th match this weekend.
The multiple-time premiership player sat down with the Barrier Truth this week to reflect on his past 199 games in the famous blue and white of North Broken Hill Football Club.
When I spoke to Blake, I asked him what he remembered about his first season with the club. I was surprised to hear he made his debut for the senior Bulldogs side aged just 14 years and nine months old.
“I remember feeling a bit intimidated as a kid playing against men,” was the overriding memory for him on the eve of his 200th match.
Our conversation soon turned to the man affectionately known as Sheep, and his most notable memories from a storied career.
The first that came to mind was the 2007 premiership Blake won as a 17-year-old kid with some of his closest mates.
“You can’t beat that feeling,” he said, reminiscing about his first premiership flag.
A close second for Blake is the 2016 flag.
As it happens, 2016 was a big year for him, but not for footballing reasons.
He had spent much of the season travelling Europe and only made it back to Broken Hill and Northies for the season’s final round.
The coach coaxed him to play in the last game with some of his close mates, who were playing their 150th matches for the club.
His performance in that match made him un-droppable for the semi-final the following week. He kept that form up and played in a winning Grand Final side at Northies for the fifth time.
Not a bad way to spend a year: travelling
Europe and then winning a fifth premiership flag!
Having accomplished so much, I moved the conversation to what the future holds for North Broken Hill FC’s stalwart centre-half forward.
Could he make it to a 300th game? Sheep quickly told me there was “not a chance to get to 300.”
That’s mostly down to some terrible luck Blake’s had with injury throughout his career. If it wasn’t for a pair of snapped Achilles injuries five years apart, 300 might well have been an attainable goal.
Blake did tell me the one goal he has left is to “play with my good mate Taylor Walker again before I hang up my boots”.
Regardless of what the future holds for Mr Blake Clare, his landmark 200th game will be a celebration of the career of a five-time premiership star (07, 08, 11,12,16) and undoubtedly a future legend of the North Broken Hill Bulldogs.
Join in all the celebrations today – Saturday – at Jubilee Oval as Blake Clare and his Bulldogs side take on the Mighty Robins of West Broken Hill from 2:30pm.