The second part of the six-part series comprises the five players the Collingwood Magpies, Essendon Bombers and Fremantle Dockers can least afford to lose in 2021, plus each side gets one honourable pre-draft mention.
When Matthew Pavlich (who I rank in the top-ten players of all time) retired at the end of the 2016 season, he stood as a colossus at the Fremantle Football Club.
He had played over 100 games more than the next most experienced player, kicked over 500 goals more than the next highest goal scorer, and was ranked in the top 20 game players and top 25 goal-scorers of all time in the AFL.
Four years later, it is possible that by the end of the 2021 season he will be equalled or even passed in games played at the Dockers by one-time teammate David Mundy, who has been granted a one-year extension on his contract.
But it won’t be easy.
Over his career, Mundy has averaged 20.75 games per year. After three years where he played 65 games, Mundy’s total games dropped to 16 in the COVID-19 season, leaving him 21 games behind matching Pavlich’s record of 353.
It is likely that season 2021 will return to 22 home-and-away matches, so unless Mundy plays every game for the season (or Fremantle makes the finals) he will fall short of Pavlich’s record. If he misses only one game and the Dockers don’t make the finals, he will finish equal with the great man.
Already older than Pavlich was when he retired, Mundy will turn 36 in July and be the second oldest and second most-experienced player in the AFL, behind Hawthorn’s Shaun Burgoyne in both categories.
If form or fitness deserts him at any time during the season, Mundy may have to settle for being the all-time second greatest game player at Fremantle.
In total, four new players climbed into the Dockers’ top 100 game-players list in 2020, including Brandon Matera who last played in Round 9 against Collingwood – a game that enabled him to sneak into the crowded ‘hot’ seat at number 100 on the list. However, both Matera and fellow top 100 game player Cam McCarthy were farewelled by the club, leaving 13 members of the elite group still playing in 2021.
Of these, only Mundy and Stephen Hill have played more than 200 games but Nat Fyfe would be hoping to join them next year and then move on two games later to reach top-ten status all-time at the club.
After a break-out season in 2020, Matthew Tabener would be hoping to reach 100 games mid-season, but Darcy Tucker needs to play 22 games to reach the same milestone.
Nine of the top 100 goal scorers at Freo will play in the 2021 season, including number 2 on the list Michael Walters and fellow top-ten goal scorer Fyfe, who currently sits at ninth on the list.
One thing is certain however: Matthew Pavlich’s reign as the number one goal scorer at Fremantle will continue for a long, long time.