By BEN HUNTER
Aspley defender Jackson Allen will play his 100th NEAFL match on Good Friday, but the milestone isn’t fazing the 26-year-old defender.
The Hornets co-captain is very aware that it is, “just a game of footy, still for the same amount of points.”
After making his NEAFL debut as an 18-year-old for Morningside in 2011, Allen was drafted to the Gold Coast SUNS.
After four senior matches over three years, Allen spent a year playing for Sturt in the SANFL, before returning to Queensland to play under former Morningside coach John Blair with the Hornets.
“For myself, it was always more or less Aspley,” Allen told neafl.com.au.
“I really enjoyed my time at Morningside under John (Blair). He helped me a lot in my time at Morningside, so I wanted to try and get back and play under him again.”
Allen played under Blair in the AFLQ legend’s final three seasons and overtook the captaincy alongside long-time friend James Ives this season.
The captaincy and coaching change have signified a new era in Aspley history, and Allen is proud to be a part of it.
“To take on the captaincy this year was quite exciting, especially doing it alongside Ivesy,” he said.
“And then to obviously still have Benny and Payney (former captains Ben Warren and Matt Payne) there and the likes of Jake Spencer, Gavin Grose, Reece Toye still there. When I need some assistance, to still be able to go to them is really beneficial and really exciting.”
That leadership group is key to the Hornets’ chances of success this Friday against the red-hot Brisbane Lions.
“Our main goal is Friday when the ball’s getting bounced, that’s the time when we’ve got to make sure that first and foremost, we’re there to do our part,” he said.
“As long as we as a six or seven (in defence) do our job throughout the week and on the weekend, it should go a good way into helping us get the result.”
Racking up 24 disposals, five tackles and 12 rebound 50s himself in Round 1, Allen is adamant his personal feats are meaningless if the team isn’t performing, and Round 3 is where the Hornets are keen to turn the season around from their 0-2 start.
“Obviously we need to get this first win on the board,” he said.
“That’s going to happen as long as we get out processes and our effort right throughout the game. The game against Southport, the boys really put in the work and had the chances, but just couldn’t take it. Whereas in Round 1 we didn’t bring the effort and Uni really capitalised on it and they played a really good brand of football.
“As long as we bring both the structure that’s been brought in this year, and the effort first of all to get in and win the footy, in that regard the result will then hopefully start to look after itself.”
The sense of occasion isn’t deluding Allen, who’s focus, as always, remains on the task at hand.
“You’re a defender first. We’ve got to find a way to stop our opponent. If we get the chance to get on the end of the football,” he said.
“If as a group we can work as a unit, work on the defensive side of it first, that should give us a platform to build an attack from there.”
Allen’s evident passion for the game grew largely from his time playing with the SUNS from 2012-2014, and then his season-long stint with Sturt in 2015.
“It allowed me to appreciate football for what it is,” he reflected.
“(It was) the lure of trying something different. I’m originally from South Australia, so I was able to go back down there and live with some family, and sort of get immersed back in the Southern culture that football has down there.”
After playing a full season in Sturt’s senior side, the appeal of playing back in the Sunshine State under John Blair once again proved too great.
“There was a bit of that (playing under Blair again). I wanted some more opportunities for work,” he said.
“My partner was living up in Brisbane at the time, same with mum and dad and everyone else, so I just thought it was the right time to come back up to Brisbane.”
Allen is now almost finished his electrical apprenticeship and got engaged in August of last year.
Looking to the future, the Hornets end goal in 2019 is plain and simple to Allen.
“The dream is to go one game further and get the success. If you don’t try to set that as your goal, then you’re already setting yourself up for a failure,” he said.
Allen and the Hornets will take on the Lions at Voxson Oval at 1.30pm on Friday.
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