At 39-years-old, Dustin Fletcher is 384 AFL games down and shows no sign of stopping.
Fletcher is a still a force to be reckoned with, as he showed against the Western Bulldogs on the weekend.
He’s the oldest player in the AFL and the only Bomber remaining from their 1993 and 2000 premiership triumphs.
Celebrating his 39th birthday on Wednesday, he said he hoped to be around at the footy club for many more – and hopefully a few more wearing the boots.
“Hopefully I’ll be around,” he said.
“It probably will be my decision but I’m not stupid. If I’m battling injury or not getting a kick you walk away.”
“I’m not going to make the decision hard on Hirdy or the footy club.”
If his last quarter effort against the Bulldogs is anything to go by, he’ll be wearing the sash for a few years yet.
When other, younger bodies were flailing, Fletcher stood tall with five rebound 50s and five marks.
He’s seen his fair share of changes over his 22 seasons; four new teams, the bench doubling to four players, shortening of quarters.
But Tuesday night’s decision to suspend Jack Viney for rough conduct had him shaking his head.
Fletcher said 20 years ago, Viney’s bump wouldn’t have troubled the tribunal, despite Tom Lynch’s broken jaw.
“He’s a young kid and just going in for the footy… I’m not sure what you want him to do in that situation,” he said.
“That’s maybe the way footy’s going.”
“But I think I read somewhere he’s not going to change and that’s good for footy.”
Fletcher said there was no secret to his longevity but said a lack of junior footy might have helped his body endure.
“A lot of the boys think I’m pretty smart with my training,” he said.
“Maybe playing in the back line too, you’re not playing on ball and getting hit every week.”
He received a birthday cake from Tom Bellchambers and Jake Melksham at the club’s training base yesterday but won’t have time to eat it.
After a full day at Tullamarine he’ll take his kids to footy training.
“Until nine tonight it’ll be some type of football. It might have to wait until a day off to have a nice dinner and couple of beers.”