CADE Webb now has a better understanding of why, as a precocious 15-year-old playing senior football, older, battle-scarred warriors would often resort to sledging.
He says he’s now one of those warriors.
Webb joined Albury United as a 12-year-old and played his first game of senior football three years later in 1995.
It coincided with a golden era for the green machine — league titles in 1997, 98, 99, 2005, 07, 08, 09 and 11.
At the same time, seven cup wins and, for the man himself, two star player awards in back-to-back years.
Tomorrow Webb will take to the pitch for his 400th game in a green and white strip, against the Savoys at Myrtleford.
“When I started, we were struggling but we came together as a group and the rest is history,” he said.
“Every trophy is special, the individual awards great, but you don’t get them without your team-mates — that is what makes team sports so great.
“I missed out on last year’s Cup win with a broken arm, so that was pretty tough.
“But the 2004 Cup at Diamond Park where it was basically the last kick of the game that we won the game and in 2007 scoring the winner, a header, here at Jelbart Park against Myrtleford are two games that stick in my mind.”
Webb said he had been lucky with injuries — two knee operations and a broken arm last year that required two surgeries after they found the ligament to his thumb halfway between his wrist and elbow.
He said the game had changed for the better with younger players better developed and more skilled.
“When I started, it was always with a sweeper. It was get it out of the backline and they can’t score,” he said.
“Now it is all about possession, frustrating the opposition, starving them of the ball. The kids who come into the competition now are just so much more developed — in the past there were some younger players but plenty of older heads.
“But there are 16 and 17-year-olds now who hold down a senior spot no trouble at all — skill wise, they are much more talented, as a group.
“They are silky, it frustrates me no end.”
Webb said his longevity was in no small part due to the support of wife, Sally.
“When we first got together I was 20, training two and three days a week and now, 14 years later and two young kids, I’m still walking in the door after work on a Tuesday and Thursday at 5.30pm and heading straight out to training,” he said.
“Her understanding and support have been incredible.”