STEPH Goode might not be the biggest name or most flashiest player in a South Bendigo line-up laced with Victorian Netball League performers and quality emerging talent.
Then again, defenders seldom are, or earn the plaudits or spotlight of their team-mates further up the court.
But ask any of her team-mates or coach Jannelle Hobbs, who they could least do without, then the 28-year-old would likely be first cab off the rank.
Goode is the Bloods' Miss Reliable and has been for the past decade since joining from rival club Strathfieldsaye as a 17-year-old.
On Saturday, her dedication and commitment to the red and white cause will be rewarded when she lines up for her 150th game with South Bendigo.
As she has throughout her high-calibre BFNL career, Goode is approaching her milestone game with her trademark positive mindset.
"There's been some ups and downs along the way in those 150 games, but the thing I take out of it all is that I am privileged to play so many games for such a brilliant club," the Bloods' 2022 co-captain said.
Goode can't help but see the irony of her 150th game arriving in time for a clash against her original club.
"I started at Strath and then one day I got the call - from (former South coach) Debbie Symes it was at the time - to come across and play here, so I thought I'd give it a crack and see how I go," she said.
"And here we are 10 years later, still comfortable with my decision.
"This is definitely home. As I've said, there's been ups and downs, especially early.
"I remember when I started here, losing games by 30, 40 and 50 goals, but to see the growth in this club and where we are now, it's all made it worth it."
Goode, who stepped into A-grade from day one at South, has played all bar a handful of A-reserve games in the BFNL's top grade.
The athletic defender and respected club leader has taken plenty of positives from all her coaches - Symes, club legend Mel Dillon, Benita Swatton and now Hobbs.
Making the point she did not 'want to play favourites' with her coaches, Goode said the arrival of Hobbs - a two-time BFNL premiership coach with Kangaroo Flat and multiple premiership winner with YCW in the LVFNL - was an obvious turning point in the club's history.
The Bloods made finals for the first time in 19 years in Hobbs' second year at the helm in 2019, qualified fourth in last year's shortened season and are currently fourth following a stirring victory last weekend against powerhouse Gisborne.
"I've probably learnt the most the last couple of years - and that's no disrespect to anyone. It's been a pretty special time at the club, making finals for the first time," she said.
"It's a pretty good vibe around the place.
"This year's been a bit of a rollercoaster season, consistency has been the hardest thing for us, but a lot of that has been out of control in terms of injuries and COVID.
"But I feel we are just starting to hit our peak and the actions on court are starting to come about.
"That win last week finally proved what we are capable of, so hopefully we can give some of these top teams a bit of a scare from here."
I remember when I started here, losing games by 30, 40 and 50 goals, but to see the growth in this club and where we are now, it's all made it worth it.- Steph Goode
The linchpin in defence for so long, Goode has embraced with welcome arms the arrival this season of former Kangaroo Flat six-time A-grade premiership defender Alicia McGlashan.
While McGlashan was sidelined for a chunk of games in the middle of the season through injury, the Bloods' A-grade mainstay volunteered that no one had probably benefited or learned more from the former Roos star than her.
"In terms of her history, she is one of the most successful players we've ever had here," she said.
"To have been on court with Alicia has been very special.
"In the short time she has been here I have learned a lot from her."
Goode's co-captain Keiarah Brooks said there was no under-estimating her team-mates' importance to the Bloods' on-court structure and on and off-court culture.
"She is what I would call very methodical, you can always guarantee she is going to stick to a certain set-up, a certain structure or a certain plan, so she is very reliable like that," the star midcourter said.
"Which is good for me because I am less so.
"Steph is always the one getting the girls up and about and always the one sticking to time and things.
"They're definitely skills I need to pick up on with my captaincy.
"She's been in this A-grade side the longest of anyone, so she is definitely our core and our base. She's the glue for our team.
"You always get what you expect from Steph, she is just so reliable."
Brooks, who crossed to South Bendigo ahead of the cancelled 2020 season after winning Ballarat's best and fairest in 2019, said she gained an ever greater appreciation for Goode during her own surprise stint in defence in the latter stages of last season.
"Poor Steph, I had no idea what I was doing back there," she said with a laugh.
"But she was so easy to play alongside.
"Again, her maturity and her experience in that role really helped me as I lacked a lot of experience down that end, whereas she provided the calm.
"She settled me down a lot and taught me so much. It's definitely taught me to be a better attacker too."
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