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United by Purple

Grover passes on his legacy

Antoni Grover presents Nathan Wilson and Brandon Matera with their new numbers. Antoni Grover presents Nathan Wilson and Brandon Matera with their new jumper numbers.

Fremantle Life Member Antoni Grover hopes that new Freo recruits Nathan Wilson and Brandon Matera can continue a legacy of strong Indigenous players at the club.

The 202-game player presented Nathan Wilson with the no.14 and Brandon Matera with the no.3 at the club on Wednesday, with Grover playing 193 games in the no.14 from 2001 to 2012.

Grover said he was proud to be asked back to the club to present his number to Wilson.

“I was wondering who was going to get my number and when I heard that Nathan was getting it, I was proud to see that I was going to be handing my jumper to a West Australian boy who’s coming home and wants to be at this club,” Grover said. 

“This is something that I wore for 14 seasons of my career. It’s something that my family are really proud of and it’s something I’m proud of.

“My memory of walking out in my 200th game and holding my daughter while wearing this jumper – it will always sit deep in my heart.

“Thank you (Nathan) for coming back brother and welcome back home. I just wish you all the best for your career moving forward.”

Grover was the first Indigenous Fremantle player to reach the 200-game milestone and hopes both Wilson and Matera can also reach an important milestone at their new club.

“Brandon’s just played his 100th and I hope moving forward, both of these boys are going to have their names on their lockers at the Fremantle Dockers,” Grover said.

“I want to welcome Brandon to the club and I just want to see your name up there and have the Matera name as an integral part of the Fremantle Football Club.”

As a defender who grew up as a Freo fan, Wilson said it meant a lot to have Grover present him with his new number.

“When I got drafted, I was a natural forward and I went into the backline so, hopefully, Antoni can give me some good tips for the next couple years,” Wilson said. 

“I grew up going for Freo and he was one of the stars, so I’m grateful to get the number 14.”

Matera takes on the no.3 jumper from Zac Dawson, who retired at the end of the 2017 season after 89 games for Freo. Matera also joins the likes of Byron Schammer (129 games) and Greg Harding (51 games) as Freo players to wear the number.

The small forward said he requested the no.3 when he knew it was available.

“I wore this number a couple of times in my juniors, so when I came back here and saw it was empty, I thought I might as well take no.3,” Matera said.

While Matera knows Wilson well through Harley Bennell – a former teammate of Matera at the Suns and of Wilson at Peel Thunder - he said his task of getting to know a new group of players became tougher with the arrival of 10 new draftees during the past fortnight.

“We knew each other through Harley, so we’ve known each other for about six or seven years,” Matera said.

“We’ve kept in contact and obviously, the last couple of days being around each other helps a bit more.

“It was quite hard early, as I was just getting to know the first 25 guys and then another 10 come through so we’re just trying to remember everyone’s name. 

‘They’re looking pretty good. They’re upbeat which we need around the club. We’ll show them the way and have a strong pre-season going into their first pre-season.”

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs