Robbie O: Why I thought Matty was better than Andrew

When your brother is the eighth immortal, you can understand it would be easier to be overlook.

Often, it’s the case for the oldest Johns brother.

But like Andrew, Matthew Johns had a gift.

He was a talented player who came through the Newcastle lower grades.

That’s where he first met Robbie O’Davis.

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The speedy fullback always had a high opinion of the playmaker.

So talented, the pair would have ongoing battles with each other inside the game.

“Matt was always a bit of a character,” O’Davis told the Our Town Our Team podcast.

“Matt and I met in Reserve Grade and Joey came a year later.”

With O’Davis and Johns striking up a combination and Andrew yet to make his first-grade debut, the jokester’s antics often found their way onto the field.

One match in particular sticks out.

On this day, it was the battle for the $1000 Man of the Match cheque.

“Matty Johns said to me walking on the field against Gold Coast Seagulls one day, he goes; ‘I’ve got to get Man of the Match today because I’ve got to pay some bills’,” O’Davis recalled.

“And I’d already done a promo on 2HD (radio) saying; ‘I’m going to get Man of the Match today and I’m going to give the money to the Campbell family who lost their kids in Bulahdelah in a big car crash’ which if you blurt something like that out on radio, you’re going to get Man of the Match anyway.

“As we run out onto the field, Matty taps me on the shoulder and says; ‘mate, you’re not going to get Man of the Match today. I need the money.’

“From the kick-off, I’m just about to catch the ball and he’s pointed to his chest as if to say; ‘it’s me, I’m getting Man of the Match’. So, my own teammate is doing this as it’s about to kick-off.

“Every time there’s a tackle made, Matty will go; ‘that’s not good enough, that’s not good enough’. We’re having our own little personal battle on the field. We’re going at each other about who has the best runs and that sort of stuff.

“Just after halftime, we’re right down the family end (of the stadium) and the scrum packed in the corner and the halfback was Matt Rodwell and Matty looks to my left from the scrum and goes; ‘just stay on my left-hand side and I’ll give it to you at the halfway line’.

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“We’re packing the scrum, Rodwell gives it to Matty and he runs at a guy called Craig Weston and goes three-step, bang, bang, bang and runs to the halfway and I loom up outside of him and he passes the ball to me and I ran away and scored under the post.

“I come back and give him the big cuddle and said; ‘how’d you know?’

“He said; ‘I knew that guy couldn’t tackle and I also knew I couldn’t run 100 metres and you could. For him to visualise something like that and make it happen on the field, I always thought Matt was way better than Andrew.”

Matt left the Club at the conclusion of the 2000 season and Andrew led the team to their second premiership 12 months later.

“What Matty was doing, was he was educating Joey and when Matty left the club, Joey had learnt off Matt that much that he became the person he was,” O’Davis continued.

So, back to the story.

Who was awarded Man of the Match against the Gold Coast?

“The story goes, because I scored two tries that day and Matty set me up for one, I got man of the match. So, the Campbell family got the $1000,” he said.