Is he the greatest AFL player of the modern era?

There are football statistics and there are AMAZING football statistics. Even if you’re not into footy (which planet are you from?), the career stats for Essendon’s Dustin Fletcher make for great reading.

Fletcher recently became only the second AFL/VFL footballer to play aged 40 and tonight at the MCG, he’ll enter a very exclusive club becoming only the third player to reach the milestone of 400 games.

The Bomber will make history when he runs out for Essendon against Richmond in the Dreamtime game at the MCG.

Dustin Fletcher’s 400th game will put him up there with Hawthorn great Michael Tuck who played 426 games and Richmond legend Kevin Bartlett who played 403 matches.

Tuck, the current AFL/VFL games record holder with 426 games, played until he was 38 told Dustin Fletcher’s upcoming 400-game milestone is a testament to the veteran Bomber’s love of Australia’s indigenous football code.

“When you really analyse it, with all the cold nights at training and the hard pre-seasons, Dustin’s been going for 23 years, so he’s done a very good job to stay focused and keep playing.

“He’s had a fair bit of success and won a couple of flags, so that makes it a bit easier to keep going.

“But basically it’s just about enjoying the game and enjoying being part of a team.

“The younger blokes at the club help keep you feeling a bit younger than you are too”.

To commemorate Dustin Fletcher’s 40th birthday recently, listed 40 reasons to celebrate the Essendon player’s longevity. Here we share some of Fletcher’s amazing statistics with you:

  1. He made his debut in 1993 as a skinny 17-year-old, the same year Paul Keating became Prime Minister
  2. In 1993 he chose to play school footy with his mates for Penleigh and Essendon Grammar over a Friday night game for Essendon at the MCG.
  3. He was a member of the 1993 ‘Baby Bombers’ premiership side.
  4. Fletcher has had 165 different teammates.
  5. He made his debut the year after his current coach James Hird.
  6. He’s played alongside both Tim and Jobe Watson.
  7. He’s played on Gary Ablett Snr and Gary Ablett Jnr.
  8. He’s Australia’s first choice International Rules goalkeeper.
  9. He drops his eldest son off at high school before training.
  10. He was thrown into the ruck in his first match and the result was a draw.
  11. Ten players on the Essendon list weren’t born in the year Fletcher made his debut.
  12. He’s played his whole career at the club his father played 264 games with.
  13. He’s a dual All Australian, two time premiership player and best and fairest in a premiership side.
  14. He’s seen the birth of four (if you include Brisbane Lions) new clubs and the death of one.
  15. He’s only the second to play AFL/VFL football in his 40s.
  16. He’s worn No. 31 for his entire career.
  17. He played his first game in a woollen jumper with stitched on numbers.
  18. He’s played AFL matches at Princes Park, Waverley and Whitten Oval.
  19. He’s played in 23 finals.
  20. He played in the very first ANZAC DAY match between Collingwood and Essendon in 1995.

As Dustin Fletcher lines up to run out with the Bombers for his 400th game tonight,  you tell us – is he the greatest AFL player of the modern era?

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