VERSATILE Claremont veteran Trinity Handley might now be a life member and premiership player at the Tigers, but continues to be proud of the efforts of the team to continue to fight through and be on top of the WAFL ladder despite not playing its best football yet in 2012.
Handley played his 150th game with Claremont in the Round 6 loss to Swan Districts as he continues to compile an outstanding WAFL career that has seen him play league football with the Tigers every year since 2004 except for 2010.
It was that year he took off to head to Victoria where Handley fully realised just how much Claremont meant to him and since returning he has played outstanding football whether in the middle, down back or up forward.
He has been able to add a premiership and life membership to his achievements now and he couldn’t be more proud to have achieved those feats at Tigerland.
"I don’t play to get to those sorts of milestones, but life membership at the club means a lot to me and I suppose I was proud to get to that point of my career. It is a bit of a time where you reflect on your journey and it was something that I really enjoyed," Handley said.
"I've been really lucky and one of the things I took away from that experience was the fact that it might be a reflection of the effort I put in, but I haven’t had any serious injuries, I've been part of a really successful football club, have had great coaches and fantastic teammates. I'm really fortunate to be in the position I am.
"I don’t think I ever took for granted the position that I was in and just how lucky we are to be involved at Claremont, but in that year away it certainly reinforced some of the things that is so great about the football club, and how lucky I am to be playing for the Tigers."
Claremont maintained top spot on the ladder with a hard fought 48-point win over Subiaco last Saturday at Medibank Stadium.
Claremont lost Andrew Foster (hamstring) and Jarryd Morton (calf) by half-time and were challenged hard early in the last quarter by Subiaco in the grand final rematch, but then blew the Lions away in a tremendous showing that Handley was proud to be part of.
"It was a fantastic effort and I think the difference can often be really small things consistently throughout the game and having everyone contribute, and play their role. That makes an enormous difference at the end of the day," Handley said.
"I'm really proud of the boys. We were challenged strongly throughout the game including a period in the last quarter when we were only a couple of goals up. We had only two guys on the bench due to injury so the character of the boys really shone through. We were able to grit it out and come away with a good win in the end."
Not only did Claremont lose Morton and Foster during last Saturday's win over Subiaco, but captain Andrew Browne and full-forward Chad Jones were also out so there's plenty of quality players to try and fight back into the team on top of the talent in the reserves at present.
"There's some real quality players coming back in and obviously that's going to make it really tough on selection, but we know from our experience of last year that to have success as a team that's the ideal situation to be in," he said.
"Obviously there's going to be some disappointed individuals along the way, but hopefully that leads to some more success this year for us."
Handley, like most of his teammates, thrived under the coaching of Simon McPhee the last two years as Claremont dominated the competition to claim back to back minor premierships, then last year's flag after the one-point grand final loss of 2010.
However, Handley has so far enjoyed playing under his former Subiaco foe Marc Webb this season since he's taken over from McPhee.
"It makes me feel old actually to be honest but he has been fantastic since the day he got into the club," he said.
"He is really approachable and obviously has a really high footy IQ and that's something I knew about him having played against him, but he's been able to bring in some new ideas and just tweak our game plan a little bit. We are starting to see some real benefit from that.
"It's not ideal to have your coach leave, but Webby has been fantastic coming in and the player personnel is a little bit different this year. We've had some new guys come in and some quality players move on. We perhaps haven’t played our best football so far, but to kind of get away with the wins that we have had and be where we are on the ladder is a real plus."
Handley is now looking forward to this Saturday's clash at Bendigo Bank Stadium against Peel Thunder and former teammate Matt Orzel.
"It should be good fun. No one begrudges Matty for leaving, he was playing really good football for a long time and just couldn’t consistently get the league game that he was after," Handley said.
"We all wish him well and still consider him a mate, but next week should be a bit of fun. They have really improved this year again and there's no easy games this season."
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