Like most of you, I am going to badly miss the opportunity to follow my team (and other teams) live at the footy each week but will still enjoy – where possible – watching the champions in all teams of our game displaying their skills.
An added dimension for me is my love of statistics – both milestone and historical – but the timeline between team announcement and the start of the game is insufficient for me to research my statistics, submit the article and have it published so I have based my assumptions for Round 1 on the mock teams predicted elsewhere.
This year at AFL level we will be treated to the performances of nine of the greatest game players of all time with only one possible addition to the list during the 2020 season. Two of these AFL top 100 game players will miss the opening round. Another one and the possible elite player – if I am reading the mockers right – may also be on shaky ground.
The leading current game player, Shaun Burgoyne (Hawthorn), sits at number seven on the all-time AFL top 100 game players list and is already the leading two-club player and the Indigenous player who has played the most AFL games.
While he can possibly climb a further two places up the top 100 list, the mockers have picked him on the bench, which suggests to me either he is being managed or not in the best 18 at the Hawks. If this is the case, his future opportunities at the club may be limited.
I know the possible addition to the elite list, Melbourne’s Nathan Jones, is being managed, and this may also indicate that he may not manage the six games required to reach the bar for entry to the top 100 before season’s end and probable retirement.
The mockers have also selected him on the bench and we all know that nowadays there is no room for sentiment in AFL football.
Luke Hodge, after a stellar career at Hawthorn, played two years with the Brisbane Lions and was one of a number of players that lifted the Lions to a highly respected opponent to be feared. He played 41 games in his two years at the Lions and this lifted his game tally to 346 games and outright 17th place on the AFL top 100 game players list.
He was only able to bask in the glory of this (and the fact that he was the second most experienced player still playing), however, for the remainder of the 2019 season as this week he should be equalled by Geelong’s superstar Gary Ablett, who now also takes on the mantle of number two current player.
The two top 100 injured players will also miss out. Fremantle’s David Mundy will slip outside the top 50 as Carlton’s Eddie Betts will move one game ahead of him and claim 50th position outright.
Lance “Buddy” Franklin will remain in the pack of ten players who finished their AFL careers on exactly 300 games and – at Sydney – miss out on playing his 119th game and joining 1955 Brownlow medallist Fred Goldsmith and 1960s defender Paul Harrison in equal 99th position and thus join Gary Ablett as a player who has achieved top 100 game status and top 100 goal status at the AFL and two different clubs.
Among the others, Carlton’s Kade Simpson will leap-frog journeyman Jason Akermanis, Ian Nankervis (Geelong) and Sydney pair Jude Bolton and Jarrad McVeigh, Heath Shaw (Greater Western Sydney and ex-Collingwood) will pass Scott Thompson, and Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood) will equal Luke Power (Brisbane and Greater Western Sydney) and Don Scott (Hawthorn).