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Team success, not records motivating factor for Notte

Friday, January 12, 2024 - 3:46 PM

Tony Notte is all set to make history when he undertakes the final season of his WAFL career in 2024 but all he is worried about is helping Swan Districts to be successful and he wants to go out winning finals more than anything.
No matter what happens in 2024, Notte is going to go down as one of the all-time greats of the Swan Districts Football Club and the history books are going to have his name written all of them.

Having come right through the ranks of the club and having a successful colts career that led to him being drafted by the West Coast Eagles, Notte made his league debut with Swan Districts in 2008 and has never looked back.
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing and Notte did miss the 2010 premiership heartbreakingly and he did suffer an ACL rupture back in 2022 that he fought back from in 2023, but along the way he has become one of the finest ever Swan Districts footballers.

He started out as a key forward but has turned himself into one of the standout centre half-backs the modern day WAFL has seen with his intercept marking ability along with the way he sets up play going back the other way becoming one of his great strengths.

Notte would go on to play 194 consecutive games as well until COVID snapped that streak in 2022, but now in 2024 he is on the verge of becoming just the second player in the club's history to reach 300 games.
Notte has currently played 292 matches and all things going well, not only will he join the legendary Bill Walker as a 300-game player, but he will also equal, and ultimately surpass his 305-game record during what will be his final season.

Decision to play one more season
Deciding to play one more season for Notte did require some thinking considering the challenges of still doing it while living in the state's south west and having to deal with that travel along with work and his young family.
While the games record is a bonus, ultimately Notte just didn’t want to miss out on the chance to have one more full season having fully recovered from the knee reconstruction and to be there for whatever success Swans are able to accomplish in 2024.

"I suppose it starts to get a little bit harder over time especially with living away and it definitely is that bit harder with the travel and having the family now as well," Notte said.

"There was a fair bit to weigh up but then again it seemed like a bit of an easy decision to give it one more year and that it was the right thing to do. 

"That's just in terms of coming back from last year from the ACL and I didn’t feel like I was at my best until the last part of the year so I just wanted to give it one more crack while I still think I can contribute to the team and perform. 

"I wanted to kind of leave nothing left in the tank so I can finish up and say that I did everything I could at the highest level of WAFL for as long as I could pretty much."

The lure of the games record
Legends of not only the Swan Districts Football Club but also WA football in general don't get much bigger than Bill Walker so it's somewhat of a humbling thought for Notte to consider he'll join him on 300 games, and potentially break his club record during 2024.

While that's something exciting and something he'll treasure forever should they eventuate this season, it's only a bonus and not the deciding factor in why he decided to play on for this one more season.

"Just knowing that there's only one great man who's ever reached that milestone for our great club, to sit up there alongside him would be a massive honour," Notte said.

"But a lot of people have said that you're so close to the milestone and that's the only reason I'm playing on, but it really isn’t the main reason. 

"I want to be there to win finals and finish off ending my career knowing that I did do everything possible at the highest level while hoping for that team success. 

"Let's just hope I can get close to the record first and then when it does come I'll make sure it's something me and my family can really enjoy."

Wanting to be part of success
It's team success that Notte wants more than anything as nice as the individual accolades he continues to rack up are.

Over his 292-game career, Notte has played in 13 finals for Swan Districts and only four of those have been victories with the last being the 2017 elimination final victory against West Perth.

Notte would love nothing more than to go out with the fairytale of becoming a premiership player with Swans, but for now it's just qualifying for finals that is the focus and what he hopes happens in 2024.

"It's also the fact that we didn’t play finals again last season so that really is the driving force," Notte said.

"With the group that we've got and the disappointment of last year missing out by that small margin only being a couple of games out, that's the key driving factor really. I really want to finish off with that chance to play finals but more than that, to try and play off in the big one with the group that we've got."

Hoping for a change in luck
The 2023 season was one of missed opportunities in the first year under new coach Andrew Pruyn for Swan Districts. There was a host of heartbreaking losses early on and at no point did the team get a fully heathy side out on the park, but still finals were within reach late in the piece.

Notte is now hoping that with a bit of luck both in close matches and health-wise and it can be a successful 2024 season for the black-and-whites.

"Obviously having been part of it now for a long period of time you know how hard it is to play finals, and to win them," he said.

"You need that little bit of luck and we kind of just missed out on that earlier in the season last year with so many close losses, and not having a full strength side on the park. It really does hurt you and if you don't capitalise in a competition that's so close you just don't play finals. 

"Hopefully we can get that little bit of luck where we have those close ones again this year and we have a full side that we win those games, and do play finals."

Challenges of living in the south west
Notte will continue to be living and working in Busselton in 2024 and while that does produce the challenges on a number of fronts, knowing that he and his family only have to get through it for this one more season make it easier to accept and find a way to make it work.

"I think the first year there was a bit of an unknown and there was more of a driving force for me because there was a lot of talk about me not being able to do it kind of thing," Notte said.

"There was all that work that I had put in just to prove that I could do it so it was a learning experience in that first year, and the drive to want to do it and the same with the second year to back up after having such a good first season living away. 

"I suppose it became a bit of a challenge getting back this year from the injury so that probably made it a little bit harder that I was putting in a lot more time and effort in the off-season to get back to play. 

"But it is very hard especially with a young family. My wife and I, we really rely on the support of her family down here and my family in the Swan Valley to make it all work. Without our family support there's no way that I would be able to still do what I'm doing. 

"It is a juggling act but when you look at it, it's just one more year now that we have to deal with and then I can peacefully just play some footy down here in the south west."

Plans for this pre-season
It's business as usual now for this pre-season building into the 2024 WAFL season for Notte where he'll keep himself in shape the best he can before joining in with Busselton locally, and getting whatever chances he can to pop up to Perth to train at Swan Districts.

"It's kind of a bit the same from since I've lived down here. I've kind of just had to train on my own until I'm able to join in the pre-season training with Busselton when they go back," Notte said.

"So it's really about being self-driven and I've had to do the work by myself pretty much down here. 

"If you don't do the right things, then you won't be able to perform so I will just get myself right again until I'm able to join in with Busselton and train with them when they return, and then get back up to get a couple of sessions in with the boys at the club with Swans when I can."