With a gap appearing in the frenzied AFL season, I have time to assess the historical milestones achieved by the elite players in the competition.
Despite the truncated season and heavy workload, all of the AFL’s top 100 game players have improved their ranking on the list.
The most senior top 100 game player both in age and number of games played, Shaun Burgoyne, has played nine games so far this season.
He has moved up the list past Essendon’s champion ruckman Simon Madden and St Kilda legend Robert Harvey to now sit in fifth place.
But there will be no more advancement this season, even in the extremely unlikely event of Hawthorn making the finals.
The four players now ahead of him reached the 400-game mark, and for him to reach this traditional milestone, Burgoyne would need to play 15 more games.
So the question is: does he have at least one more season in him?
While still a handy player – particularly when it comes to scoring goals – his disposals are significantly fewer than his average over his career and the ruthless Hawks appear to be on the verge of a team build if they miss the finals for the third time in four years.
The number two player on the current list is Geelong champion Gary Ablett, who after a promising start to the year, opted out of the game to spend time with his partner and family.
In the seven games he did play, he too managed to score a reasonable number of goals (six) and prove to be a valuable member of the team.
He equalled the recently retired Luke Hodge in Round 1 and then passed 350 games and Footscray star Doug Hawkins to sit in 16th position on the AFL all-time top 100 game players list.
If and when he returns to the field, he should move ahead of Matthew Pavlich, and possibly Paul Roos and Bruce Doull.
Carlton’s Kade Simpson is one of the two evergreens to have played 11 games already this season, and he is a strong possibility of moving into the top 20 game players of all time.
The other 11-game player is Heath Shaw, who ironically would now been the highest game player for his old club Collingwood if there had not been a parting of the ways in 2013. The record at Collingwood is currently held by Heath’s uncle, Tony Shaw, at 313 games.
However, this record may fall this season if Magpie Scott Pendlebury remains fit and in-form for the remainder of the season.
Pendlebury is currently four games behind Tony Shaw so even without the benefit of finals matches (which are looking less and less likely) he could reach the mantle of number one at Collingwood as well as climbing into the upper echelon of the top 60 AFL players of all time.
Another captain achieving high status at his club as well as the AFL is Geelong’s Joel Selwood. If he plays next week he will join a cluster of six players on 306 games.
That group includes one of Collingwood’s greatest champions Gordon Coventry, who started his playing career 100 years ago, and Eagles coach Adam Simpson, who retired as a player at North Melbourne in 2009.
A pleasing addition to the AFL top 100 game players list last week was the only player capable of joining this august group in season 2020, Melbourne stalwart Nathan Jones.
Jones played his 292nd game last week and now sits in equal 98th position along with Matthew Boyd (Western Bulldogs), Anthony Stevens (North Melbourne) and Darren Milburn (Geelong).
While his 2020 average of 13 disposals per game is well below his career average, it may be sufficient to see him climb further up the ladder and ensure a longer stay in the AFL top 100 game players.