By the end of the 2019 season 12 current players featured in the AFL top 100 game players of all time.
Late in the home-and-away season Lance Franklin played his 300th game, Scott Pendlebury played his 300th during the finals and, as the cut-off number of games continued to rise towards the 300 mark, Joel Selwood played his 295th game and climbed into 93rd position on the games-played list.
The bar for entry to the top 100 now sits at 292 games, and the hot seat is occupied by three former champions who share 98th place on the list: Matthew Boyd (Western Bulldogs), Anthony Stevens (North Melbourne) and Darren Milburn (Geelong). In common with a lot of the top-100 game players, all three – whose careers overlapped, with Stevens starting in 1989 and Boyd retiring in 2017 – played in premierships, and Anthony and Darren Milburn are both being dual premiership winners. Both Stevens (1997 and 1999) and Boyd (2009, 2011 and 2012) were best and fairest winners.
The good news for these champions is that they will all still be members of the top 100 at the end of the 2020 season, albeit maybe in equal 99th position! That’s unlike the year just gone, when journeyman Peter Everitt (St Kilda, Hawthorn and Sydney), Bill Hutchinson (Essendon) and Dean Cox (West Coast) were all overtaken by new entrants to the top 100.
In 2020 the retirements of potential members of the elite – Jarryd Roughead (Hawthorn), Brett Deledio (Richmond and Greater Western Sydney) and Aaron Sandilands (Fremantle) – means only Melbourne’s Nathan Jones can chalk up enough games to pass the 292-game target.
That all means Boyd, Stevens and Milburn will still have the opportunity to rub shoulders with current-day greats Shaun Burgoyne, Gary Ablett, Kade Simpson, David Mundy, Eddie Betts, Heath Shaw, Scott Pendlebury and Lance Franklin at AFL top-100 functions held during 2020.
Although Jarryd Roughead missed out on making the top-100 list, of course he has an entitlement to attend the functions as a top-100 goalscorer. The Hawthorn champion is the only one of the current top-100 goalscorers to retire. He finished his career with 578 goals and in 38th position so is assured of a long reign in the top 100.
There are eight current top-100 goalscorers playing on in 2020 led by Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin, who sits in seventh position overall and will be looking to move further up the list as he is only 36 goals behind No. 6 on the list, Jack Titus, who was at Richmond for an extraordinary 18 years from 1926 until 1943.
The other seven top-100 goalscorers have all scored over 400 goals. Jeremy Cameron has the fewest among them, sitting in 96th position, but is the first single-club Giant to appear in either elite top-100 list.
The number of goals scored in a season is more unpredictable these days, but there is a good chance Hawk Luke Breust, Eagle Jack Darling and Crow-turned-Hawk Jack Gunston could all be at the top 100 party by the end of next season.