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150 up in the derby for Falcon GuadagninWednesday, May 29, 2013 - 4:00 PM - by Chris Pike

MATT Guadagnin has been the ultimate warrior for West Perth over the past decade and now the tough and courageous midfielder becomes a life member of the club when he plays his 150th game for the Falcons in Monday's derby against East Perth at Leederville's Medibank Stadium.

It hasn’t always been an easy road for the farmer from Southern Cross who endured a knee reconstruction during the premiership year of 2003 and a badly broken leg in 2011 that he has only now just gotten on top of, but when on the field there has been no more respected West Perth player.

Guadagnin made his league debut with the Falcons in 2002, missed all of 2003 and ever since has been a mainstay of the Falcons' midfield brigade as one of the best in and under ball winners in the competition but also a skilful user of the ball when he's out in some space.

Now his terrific career reaches a significant milestone in Monday's Foundation (WA) Day derby against East Perth.

The 29-year-old also played his 100th game on the same day in a loss in 2010 so he hopes for a different result this time around, but even more so he's tremendously proud to now become a life member of the West Perth Football Club.

"I got to play my 100th against them as well and we went down that day so to get to play my 150th against them is a massive day, and hopefully we can get over them," Guadagnin said.

"It's something that I will definitely treasure and from a personal standpoint it will be the highlight of my career at this stage."

While finals success is the one thing left for Guadagnin to accomplish given he missed the 2003 premiership win meaning he is yet to play in a winning final in his career, his passion for West Perth is obvious with the way he plays and that's why life membership means so much to him.

"You just imagine the names who are amongst the life member group at the club and to now be a part of that is a massive honour. It's taken me a fair while to get there, but that makes it even more worthwhile. I can't wait to get out there," he said.

"It's always something in the back of your mind, but I never really thought about finishing up just yet.

"I just love it at the club and seeing young guys coming through makes it worthwhile to keep playing because they keep you enthused, and you get a different mix of players. I'm loving football and can't wait for next week now."

Right throughout his career Guadagnin has seen neither West Perth nor East Perth be able to gain an ascendancy over the other for any period of time so that's why he is fully aware that the Royals will again provide stiff opposition on Monday despite the Falcons having beaten them by 75 points in Round 1 at Arena Joondalup.

"We did get over them in Round 1 and it was a bit of a surprise how much we beat them by, but my gut feel is that the longer the year goes the better they will get and the better they will gel," he said.

"No matter what, though, when it's a derby it's on for young and old and like most games the start is going to be very important. Whoever settles first will get a big advantage so we will be ready, but I'm sure they will be as well."

Guadagnin's form is building nicely this season as well. He struggled throughout most of 2012 with complications continuing from his broken leg of 2011 and as a result had a limited pre-season.

That helped his body freshen up and allowed the stress fractures in his leg to go away, and now his form is showing the benefits including his 22-possession effort in last Saturday's 36-point win over Perth at Arena Joondalup.

"I definitely had a slow start to the year and that was to be expected because I didn’t really do a big pre-season so I could get my body right," Guadagnin said.

"After breaking my leg a few years ago I've had a few niggling problems so I really didn’t start running until February so I thought I would have a slow start. It was a little frustrating, but now I'm building momentum and hopefully I can have an even bigger impact come the business end."

Following that win over Perth following a three-week break since beating East Fremantle at East Fremantle Oval, the Falcons moved a game clear in second place on the ladder with a 6-2 record, and Guadagnin is delighted with the first half of the campaign so far.

"We couldn’t really be happier with the season so far. In the Claremont game we did a lot of things right and didn’t quite have the polish, and against Swans we controlled the game but again our foot skills let us down and then in the last 10 or 15 minutes we let them run over the top," he said.

"That was very disappointing but overall if you could have told me we'd be 6-2 at this stage of the year you would take it every time. We are fit. Last year we had a bit of interruption with our fitness guys and had two or three different ones, which didn’t help but this year we are fit and strong, and had a really good pre-season.

"We are thinking about the way we defend a lot more as well and we are doing well turning the ball over, which can make you look a bit quicker on the counterattack when you have more space to use the ball in. it's a good feeling amongst the boys at the moment that's for sure."

With exciting youngsters like Aaron Black, Shane Nelson, Nick Rodda and Matt Johnson continuing to emerge and experienced campaigners like himself, Jason Salecic, Ray Bartholomew, Anthony Tsalikis, Dan Hunt, Michael Pettigrew, Chris Keunen and Andrew Strijk still leading the way, Guadagnin is happy with the mix at the club at the moment and is excited about the future as well as 2013.

"We do have a healthy list, which we probably haven’t had the last couple of years. The depth we have is good too and we have six or seven young blokes coming through who probably deserve to play, so that holds us in good stead for the future," Guadagnin said.

"The depth is there and that's why everyone keeps playing well so they hold onto their spot. Those middle tier of players have really stepped up and Blacky has been outstanding, and Nelly has been really good and they have taken on leadership roles as well. You can't ask for much more than that from guys who are only 20 or 21. Over the next couple of years they are going to be dynamite."