Reece Toye Reaches 150 NEAFL Games

Despite being a lifelong Aspley Hornet, Reece Toye still flies under the radar at Graham Road, with his higher-profile teammates often grabbing the limelight.

On the eve of one of the biggest games in Hornets history, Toye perhaps thought he might be able to continue to avoid the headlines, but joining a group only two other players to reach 150 NEAFL games is worth all the recognition it gets.

“I was told about the write-up yesterday,” Toye said sheepishly, almost as if he were in some sort of trouble to be receiving this sort of attention.

Eventually, however, we got him to admit what had been painful obvious this season.

“I’m flying under the radar a bit, but I am playing the best footy of my career,” he said.

Almost as soon as it was out of his mouth, Toye was equally as quick to handpass the overdue credit elsewhere.

“However having some of the guys I’ve had over the years, like Jake Spencer, Matt Payne, a good coaching outfit that has developed me as a player throughout my 20s (has got me) not playing too badly,” he said.

“I wasn’t a gun through my junior days, it came to me a bit late, but I guess I’ll just keep going, no reason to stop now.”

Toye is one of two players who is still at the club after being there for their first NEAFL game in Round 1, 2011, and fittingly, he was also named among his team’s best that week.

“It’s been an extreme development,” Toye said of the progress the NEAFL has made since that day.

“I’ve seen my teammates develop through this program, the level itself (has developed), more and more guys seem to be playing better and being picked up, the growth is very real.

“It’s good to see young guys coming through, it’s a great opportunity.”

Having been with Aspley the past eight seasons, Toye was there for the ultimate jubilation of their premiership year in 2014, as well as the heartbreak of a one point loss in the same game the season following.

Asked whether there were parallels he was noticing between the success of their victorious 2014 and this season, the 29-year-old was quick to agree there was.

“It is quite similar,“ he said.

“The biggest thing is buy-in from the players, we had a large squad turnover this year like a few other teams, but buying into what the team’s about, your structures and how you want to go about things, it goes a long way to playing well.

“We had good buy-in from ’13 to ’16, and it’s very much similar, so I hope we can keep these guys around for a few more years, it’ll be easier to stick around if that’s the case.

“As long as everyone’s playing their role we should be fine.”

This week sees Aspley travel to Fankhauser Reserve to play the Southport Sharks for a trip to their first Grand Final since 2015, and Toye and the Hornets are intensely focused, having proved so with a win over the Brisbane Lions last week.

“Finals is always another level, the pressure seems to build, there’s a faster pace, everything’s pretty full on, and you don’t want to fall at the wrong time,” Toye said.

“You don’t want to cost yourself so you can’t afford to not show up and want it.

“We know how it feels, so knowing what’s required, you’ve got to apply yourself completely.

“We can see an end goal, we’re a good consistent side, we know we have to do the small things well, and it goes a long way, so hopefully we get the result, but I don’t want to give too much away!”

It’s easy to imagine if Aspley do make their way to the Grand Final, Toye will be heavily involved, even though it might not always be apparent.

However, that’s how most of his career has played out, and he’s just fine with it.

What won’t be easy to avoid is if, and when, Toye passes retiring stars Darren Ewing and current NEAFL game record holder Cameron Ilett next season, he will stand alone as the man to have played the most games in the NEAFL’s history – a feat that most certainly won’t go unnoticed.

Article by Myles Stedman – Also available on the NEAFL Website