Farewell to AFL Coast legend Mick Matson
HE BATTLED against the odds so many times those who knew and loved Mick Matson started to think he was immortal.
About 450 people gathered at the Maroochydore Baptist Church on Thursday to celebrate the life of "Maddog" who died, aged 64, from a cardiac arrest.
It's his family and his other family - the Sunshine Coast AFL community - who will be hit the hardest by the loss of the community champion.
Ahead of the funeral, close friend Jeff Smith said Mr Matson was the type of person who gave so much and asked very little in return.
"He was a jack of all trades," Mr Smith said.
"He did everything from washing jumpers, preparing the first aid kits, making dim sims for the boys.
"He was a larger than life character who did all those thankless jobs."
Known to many as Matso, or the Grumpy Tasmanian, Mr Matson was involved with local footy from the 1980s, originally with the Maroochydore Roos and more recently with AFLQ Masters and Sunshine Coast Rayners.
Mr Matson was born in Hobart on July 5, 1950 but left when he was 16 years old, and according to his ex-wife Robyn, spent time in Sydney and Shepparton before arriving on the Coast in 1975 where he started his long association with the local AFL scene.
As well as playing senior and reserves football with the Roos for eight years before retiring as a player, he became a coach of both senior and junior teams, leading the reserves and under-13s to premierships. He became an integral member of both senior football teams in the Sunshine Coast Super Rules (35-40) and the Sunshine Coast Masters (40+), which would later become his beloved Rayners.
His nickname Maddog came because of his larger than life personality.
Mr Matson worked for the council as a labourer and helped raise a family.
He was involved in a horrific car crash on October 10, 1986, when his son Michael ("his number one") was just three months old.
An ambulance was on its way to another crash when they happened upon Mr Matson who had died.
"They resuscitated him and he was taken to intensive care," Robyn said.
"He was out of hospital in a month then it took him 12 months to recuperate."
As to how Robyn coped with the accident while nursing her baby: "I'm pretty strong, apparently," she laughed.
"We separated in 1990 but we've stayed close ever since."
According to a eulogy poem recited at the funeral, Mr Matson's daughter Lauren was the apple of his eye.
"When she was 21, Mick was back at the hospital gate.
"Nine months he was there - and tough months they were too.
"He was 'immortal' - the stories they flew," the poem went, referring to an event in September 2009 in which Mr Matson was told there was little chance he would survive complications during a pancreas operation.
"I wasn't supposed to make it," Mr Matson told the Daily in 2012 after his miracle recovery.
He had to learn to walk again and spent months in Nambour General Hospital in rehabilitation.
"It was an extremely stressful time especially because the rest of his family is in Tasmania," Robyn said.
But somehow Mr Matson recovered so well he even ended up playing a Masters game of rules at the "ripe old age of 62".
Daily columnist Ashley Robinson wrote: "he kicked a goal from outside the 50 - well, the goal square, which is a massive effort and I am sure the staff at the Nambour hospital would be proud".
Robyn had another child Kaitlyn, who Mr Matson treated "like gold".
"Kaitlyn, although not his own
"Was treated as gold, as if on a throne
"He'd phone her often - even built her a fence
"A relationship of the heart - that's what made sense."
And as for Mr Matson's ex-wife Robyn:
"And what about Rob, I hear you say
"Always there for him night and day
"Well that's a woman of strength - we all know that's true
"Without her Mick would be sad and blue."
Robyn said Mr Matson had an absolute "heart of gold".
"He was really friendly, he helped everyone and just went out of his way to help people.
"He was a real survivor."