Mathew Carter originally came to the Senior Club through the traditional pathway from junior club Westbrook while Cody Stucker is a journeyman originally from the West.
The significance of this Sunday’s match is obvious, as a win for Penno will advance them to the Grand Final. Not only will the Demons be desperate for a win, but the boys will be determined to put on a strong showing to ensure the moment is one that Codes and Carts will look back on with pride and fond memories. But it wont be an easy road, as the Knights are the only team to beat the Demons this season, although the record stands at one win each, with Penno winning the most recent encounter by 6 points in Round 17.
Mat Carter, aka ‘Carts’, started his footy at Westbrook Juniors, playing 182 club games over more than a decade at the Club. This ranks him amongst the top 10 games record-holders at Westbrook. He also kicked 32 goals for the club during his time as a junior. He reckons he won a couple of premierships along the way and our research indicates that his Under 14 team were Minor Premiers and Premiers in 2003. In the Under 15s and Under 16s, Westbrook finished 2nd in both seasons and were runners-up in the 2004 Grand Final and finished 3rd after the finals in 2005.
In 2004, after starting the year in “devastating form showing his usual dash and courage and winning Sydney representative selection” Mat broke his wrist twice that season. Mat was a Northwest and Sydney representative player and was the Under 16 Vice Captain and Best & Fairest in 2005, his last season with Westbrook.
Westbrook team-mates included the likes of Nathan Breen, Aaron Crisfield, Alex Goodall, Tom Angel, Nick Campbell and Josh Mott, amongst others. He does not have clear recollections of much of his time at Westbrook but he does recall the “gruelling hill runs Pete Campbell used to put us though in juniors … they were not fun at all!”
Over the journey, his coaches spoke in glowing terms of his ability:
“One of the hardest workers seen, a running wingman, fearless with good skills, very good team player.”
“The link player of the team. Mat brings other players into the game. He uses the ball very well on both sides of his body and sets up a lot of play through creative handball and kicking. Always gives 100%.”
These positive traits continue to be a hallmark of Mat’s football at the Senior Club.
Carts joined the senior club in 2006, playing 33 games over two seasons in the Under 18s. Both teams finished runner-up to North Shore and unfortunately, for Mat, he is yet to win a flag at the senior club. He was runner up Best & Fairest in the Under 18s (Demons) in 2007.
Mat had his senior debut in 2008, playing mainly reserve grade but also debuting in Premier Division that year. He finished 2nd in the Sanders Medal in 2008 and notes Harry Ellison was Penno’s club umpire that year and that this probably had something to do with the favourable vote count that came his way. (You’re too modest Carts – Editor). Cart’s also notes that he actually finished 3rd in the Medal but the joint winner, Harry Brown from Wollongong, was ineligible through suspension.
A right foot kick, Carts has played most of his football on the wing where his speed and great ball-handling skills come to the fore. He reckons that Charlie Richardson “takes the cake” for best player he’s played with. For memorable moments, Mat says that watching the first grade side win flags in 2006 and 2015 are high on his list, particularly as Penno were rank outsiders against arch-rivals East Coast Eagles on both occasions.
2016 is his 10th season with the senior club, although his appearances have been a little patchy over a number of years. Mat’s played 22 first grade games over the journey, but he’s been more of a regular in Division One and of recent times has been content to have a run with the ‘Thirsty Thirds.’ As to leadership, he was Vice Captain of the Reserves in 2010/11 and won another Best & Fairest award and was voted Division One’s Player’s Player in 2011.
Cody Stucker, aka ‘Codes’, first played footy as a youngster in Busselton in South West Western Australia, playing for Countrys Under 10s. He then made a “controversial switch” to Towns in the Under 12s. He won Most Improved “as an 11 year old in 1993 and in 1994 finished runner up Best & Fairest and won B.O.G in a Grand Final victory kicking 3 goals as ruck rover; the award was selected and presented by Barry Cable, the Western Australian AFL Legend.”
There was no junior footy at the small mining town of Nhulunbuy in the Northern Territory when Cody’s family shifted there when he was 13 years old. He was only able to resume his footy career when he started playing seniors as a 16/17 year old in the Gove AFL league. Moving again, this time to Darwin, Cody played with the Nightcliff Tigers for four seasons, winning a reserve grade Grand Final in 2006. He also played four A grade matches where one of his team-mates was the former Geelong Cats star, Ronnie Burns, who, according to Cody, “did not get along with Darwin’s amateur umpires!”
When he moved to Sydney in 2008, he picked the Pennant Hills footy club over North Shore for reasons of geographical convenience, Pennant Hills being slightly nearer to home than Gore Hill. Thus he became a Demon more by chance than by design, but it’s a decision he has never regretted and his upcoming 100 game milestone is testimony to his loyalty and dedication to Pennant Hills.
Since 2009, Cody has been a regular member of the reserve grade side and was awarded Most Consistent in 2013. However, in 2014, he played 13 games with Premier Division, debuting in the Round 5 match against St George played at Mike Kenny Oval. Penno won that day 8.13-61 to 3.13-31; a strange game in which neither side managed to kick a goal in the first half and the half-time score was tied at 8 points each! Although Cody did not play finals that year, the Demons met Manly-Warringah for a second consecutive Grand Final and lost badly 8.20-68 to 2.10-22 in 2014 (Best we don’t dwell on that! – Editor.) Outside of Pennant Hills, Cody was Players Player in 1999 and runner-up Best & Fairest in 2000.
He’s played most of his footy on the wing, gathering many of his possessions as a get-out option for the backline and “chasing rubbish kick-and-hopes from ‘Micky Martin’ types.” As to his preferred kicking foot, he reckons both feet “work ok … max 46m is a worry!” 2016 is his 8th season with Pennant Hills.
Neither Cody nor Carts has won a flag at Pennant Hills but, if things go to plan and with a slice of luck, this could be the season that breaks the drought. Playing 100 games is a significant achievement in anyone’s football career as it requires a substantial personal commitment to the team, dedication to the Club and passion for the code.
In recognition of the substantial commitment and loyalty of these two outstanding men and footballers, the Club pays tribute to Mat Carter and Cody Stucker and wishes them well for their future endeavours, both on and off the field.
Well done fellas and Go Penno!
Written & compiled by John Acheson for PHAFC, Sunday 28 August 2016