K rock Football

Spence “back to normal”

Lara captain Matt Spence in action against Leopold in Round 3. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

MATT Spence says he feels “back to normal” just over a month following an onfield incident that left the Lara captain with a severe concussion.

Speaking for the first time since the collision with Mitch Patten at Leopold Memorial Park on May 1 that earned the Lions forward a three-week suspension, Spence says he will return to the field when the GFL season resumes.

“I’m going well now,” Spence told krockfootball.com.au. “The headaches have gradually stopped.

“It was a rough three weeks, though. I was getting headaches daily. It took me two weeks to get back into any form of exercise.

But in the last two weeks, I’ve really started to improve. And I guess the last week, there’s been a rapid improvement, and I feel like I’m back to normal now, which is promising.

“And I’m back to full training, so I’m just looking forward to playing again.”

The collision between Matthew Spence and Mitch Patten. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

Spence, who runs his own building business, Spence Built, also spent a week off work.

The Sunday after the game – that morning – I didn’t feel great,” he said. “But, I thought I’d probably get up to work Monday, and I’ll be right.

“But, I kept saying that every day of the week, and before I knew it, it was Friday, and I hadn’t gone to work.

“So, I ended up having the whole week off just sitting at home. But, the silver lining was getting to spend it with my wife (Paige) and my four-month-old baby (Sadie).

Spence’s last onfield memory of that day was the kick from teammate Jacsen Jewell he was preparing to mark before Patten collided with him in midair during the first quarter.

“I knew there was a contest coming, and I knew I was going to take a hit,” he said. “However, I don’t remember anything after leaving the ground to take the mark.

“I was well and truly back in the rooms before I came to. And when I did come to, I thought I was back in time; I thought I was playing in a practice match from four or five years ago for some reason, and I’m not sure why.

“It took me a good five minutes once I came to to realise what round it was and what year we were playing.”

Medical staff assist Lara captain Matt Spence following his collision with Leopold’s Mitch Patten. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

The 27-year-old (he turns 28 later this month) watched the footage incident for the first and only time the day after it occurred.

Spence concedes the final result could have been a lot worse.

“It didn’t hurt at the time because I was knocked out cold and didn’t feel anything,” he said.

“I had a few headaches and stuff after the incident. But when I do look at the vision, it doesn’t look great.

“I guess those things are going to happen in footy, and that’s the risk we’re willing to take as footballers weekly.

“But, it definitely could have been a lot worse.”

Despite the seriousness of the collision, Spence has no concerns about returning to the field when the 2021 season kicks back into gear.

“I feel as right as rain going back,” he said. “I guess having no recollection of the incident is a positive for me.

“It didn’t hurt what happened to me. It was just the weeks after the event that were the problem.

“Going into contests won’t be a problem going forward for me.”

Spence is keen to return to lead a rejuvenated Lara into action.

The Cats are 2-4 following the first six rounds, and while that may not seem impressive, they have made some impressive strides in 2021.

“It’s been disappointing to miss the last three games because I thought we played reasonably good footy against Joeys but probably took a slight step back against South Barwon,” Spence said.

“And I felt that if I was out there, maybe the boys could have used a little bit of leadership.

“But, in saying that, I’m really proud of our group and the way we’re progressing.

“It’ll make the years I stuck around worth it if we keep going on this path together.

“The improvement is definitely there and is going to continue, especially with the right coaches and people around the club.”

One of those “right people” is coach Shayne Stone, who has been confirmed as the club’s senior coach in 2022.

“Rock’s been great for not only me but the whole group,” Spence said. “He’s a very structured coach, and I think his years with Werribee VFL, he’s brought a really good gameplan, and he knows how to teach it.”

“Getting your message across to the players, that’s the main thing.

“Another positive is that a lot of the kids in our side, he coached in the juniors at Lara.

“So, that relationship is already there, and it makes a little easier to build on that.

“The group’s really buying into what he’s doing, and the group loves him.”

Twitter: @tom_king79