Welcome mat out for Shir at Albury

WODONGA champion Matt Shir has joined arch enemy Albury.

In a huge boost to the Tigers’ chances of keeping pace with reigning premier Yarrawonga, the three-time Bulldog best and fairest winner put weeks of speculation about his playing future to rest by committing to the Tigers on Saturday morning.

Shir said yesterday he was excited by the prospect of playing at Albury under former Murray Bushranger teammates Chris Hyde and Daniel Maher.

“I have been weighing it up and talking to people and it wasn’t an easy decision, but at the end of the day I only have a couple of years left in footy and I want to make the most of it,” Shir said.

“Being away for 2½ to three years makes it a bit easier to go and play with Hydey and Mahery who I have had a fair bit to do with.

“Some people will be disappointed and I know I’ll cop a bit of flak and I’ll have to wear that.

“Albury has a senior group of players and there is a window of opportunity which I’m keen to try and take.”

Shir, 31, played five matches for Wodonga this year after returning to the Border from Queensland mid-season and joins Albury only weeks after former Richmond and St Kilda player Dean Polo signed with the Tigers.

The picture isn’t as rosy at John Flower Oval with Shir’s departure coming hot on the heels of star midfielder Brett Doswell signalling his intentions to break a contract and join Holbrook.

It remains unclear whether Wodonga will release him to the Hume Football League club.

Shir grew up with Maher at Benalla before being drafted by AFL club Adelaide where he played 11 AFL matches.

He was then put on Richmond’s rookie list.

Shir joined Wodonga in 2004 and tasted immediate success by playing in the Bulldogs’ premiership that season under Richard Bence and winning the Did Simpson Medal.

Matt Shir.

Matt Shir.