NEVER mind taking Huddersfield out of the man – you can’t take Dwayne Mattis out of the town!
Walsall’s midweek match-winner still lives at Brackenhall, and his 88th-minute strike at the Bescot on Tuesday will no doubt have made his journey back up the M6 more pleasant than that of Town’s players and management and their 589 travelling fans in a crowd of 3,419.
“I’ll be keeping my head down, because almost all my mates are still keen Town fans,” quipped the 28-year-old former player, who was born in Huddersfield and came through the Town academy before figuring 81 times for the first team.
“To be honest, I still go and watch Town when we don’t have a game, and I’d really like it if both teams could win promotion.
“It was a dream for me to score and we might have won (2-1), but Town are a good team and I think they will be up there come the end of the season.”
Released in 1994, Mattis, who won Republic of Ireland Under 21 honours while at Town, initially moved to Bury before joining Barnsley for £50,000 in January 2007.
He was unable to make an Oakwell impression, and after a loan spell at Walsall, moved there permanently the close-season before last.
“I was settled at my house in Huddersfield, and that’s even more the case now that I have a little boy, Leo (aged five months),” explained Mattis.
“It’s about 100 miles from my house to the Walsall training ground, so it’s just a case of getting some music on and getting my head around having to make that journey.”
Mattis says he’s not bitter about being released by Town, but admits he uses the memory as a motivation.
“It was painful at the time, but on reflection, I think it’s what I needed, because I’d probably got into a bit of an easy mode,” added Mattis, whose last Town appearance was under Peter Jackson in the 3-1 home win over Walsall in the March of the 2003-04 League II play-off winning season..
“It made me sit up and think that I needed to pull my socks up and get my head down and work hard if I wanted to carve out a career.
“I’ve enjoyed myself at all my clubs, and Walsall’s a good place to be.”
The goal which clinched a 2-1 win which left Town sixth and Walsall 11th in League I was a first goal of the season for Mattis, whose manager Chris Hutchings also lives in Huddersfield, and he explained: “The boss has been asking me to go for goals more often.
“I had what was probably an easier chance in the first half and missed it, so it was great to see my shot go in.
“That was our first home win since March so it was an important one for us, and hopefully we can kick on.
“We didn’t play the way we can, but we worked hard and to come from behind was a boost.”
Walsall are back in action at the Bescot today, when Carlisle United visit, and Mattis added: “We’ve got players coming back from injury, and we’re looking up rather than down.”