HOME is very much where the heart is for Maryborough's Jordan Macilwain.
The star goaler has been a tower of strength for the Magpies now for 16 seasons and is loyal to a tee.
The 30-year-old has often been the subject of offers from rival BFNL clubs and plenty in the Magpies' neighbouring Maryborough Castlemaine District league.
She has always resisted and remains a steady and much-loved presence under the goal ring and around the club for the Magpies.
Her fierce determination and devotion were rewarded last weekend when she celebrated her 250th game.
Macilwain, a dual club best and fairest and BFNL and North Central region representative, sits fourth on the Magpies' all-time games list, behind a trio of champions of the club and league in Alicia Cassidy, Alisha Chadwick and Laura Clarkson.
If not already, there's no doubt she'll be soon held in the same high esteem as her former champion team-mates.
While the Magpies were unable to escape with a win for Macilwain, going down 56-34 to Gisborne in a scoreline not befitting a much closer on-court contest, it was a joyous occasion for the club and a nice opportunity for reflection for the milestone player.
As the Magpies head into round five with a 1-3 record, their most experienced player is loving every minute of being back on court after playing only a handful of games last season before giving birth to her and partner Mitch McClure's first child Jimmy.
"It was nice to be celebrated, but it was nice to get it over and done with and get out of the spotlight," Macilwain said of her milestone.
"I don't really like the limelight, I'd rather just get out and there and play.
"I've been here since I was 14, but this year it's really been nice getting out on the court, especially after having Jimmy.
"We have a few new girls in the side and obviously under the guidance of Alicia (Cassidy) it's pretty special.
"I've obviously grown up watching her play and was lucky enough to play alongside her on the court, but more than that we are great friends off the court.
"Playing underneath her has been great. I reckon she'd still smash me on the court now, even though she's no longer playing."
Macilwain, who became a regular in A-grade at 17, wears the black, white and teal as a badge of honour and has never contemplated a future elsewhere.
"There's been a lot of messages from clubs in our league and away from the league, but it's just never been a question for me," she said.
"It's where all the family is and where I have really great friends.
"Nothing compares to that. The friendships I've made at the club have probably been the key thing for me."
While only early, Macilwain felt the 2022 season was shaping as a good one for Maryborough, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary.
"With some new faces and some other girls who have also come back from having a baby after a couple of seasons off, there's a really nice feeling around the club," she said.
"It's a fresh, new feel and the team is really starting to blend together, We do have our strengths, but there are some things we really need to work on.
"A couple of games we've been really competitive and on the weekend against Gisborne, we felt really competitive, although the end score blew out.
"We did manage to stay with them most of the way and they are one of the benchmark teams in our league.
"That was a nice feeling to walk off the court knowing that we did compete.
"It's been nice stepping back in goals with Keely (Hare) and seeing some of the younger girls take on some leadership."
The friendships I've made at the club have probably been the key thing for me.- Jordan Macilwain
A joy in recent seasons for Macilwain, who alongside Chloe Egan coached the Magpies' 17-and-under team to a grand final appearance in 2017, has been playing alongside some of the graduates of that team.
Three are currently playing A-grade, including Hare, Maggie Tranter, who won the league 17-and-under best and fairest that year, and Tori Chandler, who has returned to the club after a stint away, and is making her mark in the midcourt.
Macilwain said while 'the body hurts a bit more on Sundays since coming back', she plans to play for as long as she can.
"Managing little Jimmy has been pretty easy so far, so I still see plenty of time on the netball court," she said.
Quizzed on her toughest opponent across the years, Macilwain could not go past Gisborne star and 2018 Betty Thompson medallist Maddy Stewart.
Ironically, the pair lined up on each other again for part of last week's match.
"I thought Maddy was going to be kind to me on the weekend and play goals for the whole game, but that only lasted a half," Macilwain said.
"Unpredictable players like Maddy, who really hunt the ball, and who you don't know where they are at all times, are the biggest test.
"In saying that, I was glad to be able to share the milestone against the girls like Maddy and Tiana Newman that I am close with."
The Magpies are optimistic about notching up their second win of the season at home against Eaglehawk on Saturday.
"I really feel we are improving each week and the more and more we get to play with each other and bond the better we will get," Macilwain said.
"Having a stronger B-grade team this year (the Magpies don't have an A-reserve) has really helped and pushed a few of us at training.
"That can only be a good thing."
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