By Michael Morgan, captain of the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys
TONIGHT we run on to 1300SMILES Stadium one final time.
And right before we head out the tunnel I will be sure to touch the sign one final time. It sits above the door at the entrance of the tunnel and it says “You are now entering Cowboys Country”.
Coops (Gavin Cooper) is always sure to give it a touch, but players have been touching it on their way out long before I was at the club. It has become a tradition.
I can remember when I first started in under-20s, Paul Bowman was one of our trainers and I am sure it was him who told us about the sign. He always said “make sure when you touch it, that it means something”.
To me it’s a signal that we are running out on to our turf, in front of our fans, our Cowboys nation. It also represents every player that has run out on to that field in these colours.
It is also one piece of the stadium that I really hope they transfer over to the North Queensland Stadium when it is built. It is part of the history of this club.
There is also a plaque that was put up in the dressing room this season. It has all the names of every person to wear the Cowboys jersey right back to that first team that took this field in 1995.
Before every game I look at the names on the plaque, and I know I am not just playing for myself. I am playing for every one of them.
A few of those old boys might be at the game tonight and it is our duty to do them proud.
It is also a chance to do our two retiring legends – Matt Scott and Scott Bolton – proud.
Bolts is one of those players that always seems to fly under the radar but he has been a massive part of our club over the years.
He is a part of our leadership group at the club. He doesn’t say too much but I think that just shows the respect he has got among the players and the coaches to still be part of that group.
The way he carries himself on and off the field goes a long way toward that. If he is running out beside you, you know you are in safe hands. You know what to expect from him.
The feeling in the club is also at a high for the season this week, and I think that was shown during our cultural night on Tuesday.
An event organised by Johnny Asiata, all of the players and staff in the football department came together to celebrate all the different cultures we have in the club. There was some amazing food and some great dancing, it was a very special time.
John’s family came up from Sydney for the dinner, and his dad emceed the night. It is not hard to tell why John is such a nice and caring bloke after you have met the people who raised him.
We want to be a close knit family style club, and this was the perfect way to show that.
This article first appeared in the Townsville Bulletin.