Matthew Keith Boyd
27 August 1982 (age 40)
Place of birth
Melbourne, VIC (3000)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 20y 257d
Last game: 34y 363d
Height and weight
Height: 184 cm
Weight: 88 kg
Western Bulldogs: 42, 5
State of origin
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Something of a late bloomer in footballing terms, Matthew Boyd has spent 15 seasons making up for lost time in a career that has ultimately yielded just short of 300 AFL games.
A product of the Dandenong Stingrays in the Victorian under 18s competition, Boyd was overlooked in the AFL National Draft and joined VFA club Frankston before eventually coming under the notice of the Western Bulldogs. Even then Boyd was not seen as having the potential that led him to become a fine midfielder and AFL captain, and he when drafted by the Bulldogs in 2002, it was onto their rookie list.
But Boyd - whose skills were perhaps not as silky as others around him - had a hard-working ethic that soon paid off. As a rookie he managed to play eight games in 2003. With the club having a poor season, Boyd showed enough to earn an elevation to the Dogs' senior list in the 2004 season. He played 19 of 22 games that year and another 17 in the following season, doing solid work in the midfield, but it wasn't until late in 2005 that he started to become a prolific ball-winner.
As the Dogs emerged from the doldrums to become a relative force from 2006 to 2010, Boyd took his game to another level to become one of the first players selected each week. His uncompromising approach and unflinching attack on the ball made him a favourite of fans and selectors alike, and when skipper Brad Johnson retired at the end of the 2010 season, Boyd was a popular and deserved choice as his replacement.
Boyd's appointment coincided with a downturn in the Bulldogs' fortunes, but the two events were in no way related. Boyd captained a younger, developing side with aplomb and continued to show courage and display strong leadership skills, while gathering more possessions that ever before in his three years at the helm.
He handed the reins over to Ryan Griffen in 2014 and perhaps experienced a slight dip in form in that season but, when new coach Luke Beveridge came on board at the beginning of 2015, he suggested Boyd move from a midfield role to one on the half-back line and this reinvigorated the ageing star. If there had been any valid criticism of Boyd in his time as a midfielder, it could perhaps have been of his occasionally slightly sloppy use of the ball but, released of the shackles that often accompany an in-an-under role, Boyd displayed exquisite disposal skills throughout 2015, setting up many attacks with pinpoint passing as the Bulldogs surged back into the finals for the first time in five years.
Boyd then signed on for 2016, and an already decorated career (club best and fairest in 2009, 2011 and 2012, All Australian in 2009 and 2011) was elevated to new heights as the Dogs defied all odds to win four consecutive finals after finishing seventh to bring home that elusive, drought-breaking second flag. To cap off the fairytale season, Boyd claimed All Australian honours for a third time.
With a premiership under his belt, Boyd would have been entitled to hang up the boots and justifiably rest on his laurels, but he saddled up again in 2017 and despite a form lapse which saw him spend time in the Bulldogs' VFL side, his 10th match of the season took his AFL career games total to 291, the highest of any AFL player in history to come via the rookie draft.¹
In August 2017 Boyd announced he would call time on his career after the Bulldogs' season came to a close. While Boyd didn't quite get to the magical 300-game mark, his record (one premiership, three times All Australian, three Charles Sutton Medals) clearly reveals him to be one of the finest players to have pulled on the red, white and blue hooped jumper.
Author - Andrew Gigacz
1. Boyd eclipsed the previous record of 290, held by the West Coast Eagles' Dean Cox.