Games record broken with the substitute vest on, lap around the oval for the fans.

He will break record next year. Better than pick 142.

Future player / coach?

He will break record next year. Better than pick 142.

So we know what the negotiating was then - "OK, if you're going to do all this to us, at least take us out of the draft as well so we can pressure Fletch to stay!"




Thursday, September 12, 2013 - 10:45 AM 
Source: SportsFan
By Eamon Evans

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Dustin Fletcher may keep playing forever, or perhaps he'll turn his hand to coaching, like his dad.

Photo: Getty Images

French researchers recently found that athletes peak at 26.1. Not long afterwards comes the physiological tipping point, which sees our bodies irreversibly decline.

Clearly, no-one's told Dustin Fletcher. The Grand Old Man of the AFL celebrated his 38th birthday this year, and still seems as good as new. Or, indeed, better than new. A spindly schoolboy weighing something around 70kg, Fletcher just didn't look like an AFL footballer when he first arrived at Windy Hill, and he didn't always play like one either.

"He was thrown to the wolves a bit in '93," recalls father Ken of that fateful first season, when Dustin conceded bags to the likes of John Longmire, Gary Ablett and Allen Jackovich, and strength and weight to just about everyone else. "(Wife) Rosemary and I used to sit in the grandstand, wondering if he'd get broken in two. I would have hoped he could have eased into it on the wing, or at half-back, but (the coaching staff) ended up being smarter than I was."

Maybe. Being a smarter coach than Ken takes some doing. While he was no slouch as a footballer himself – Dustin's dad clocked up 264 games for Essendon, and a few for Victoria, during the 1970s, mostly as a running half-back – his biggest legacy to the game is as a coach. Since Ken took the reins at Essendon Grammar in 1989, the school has won nine Associated Grammar Schools titles, come second a further nine times, and seen no less than 24 students go on to play AFL.

Scott West and Trent Cotchin are among those students - but Ken's proudest product is, of course, Dustin. A fullback who, despite his fears, is still in one piece. "Physically, he's well put together," says Essendon doctor Bruce Reid, who hasn't had to do too much during the defender's 376 games. "He's lanky and wiry, just like (Michael) Tuck and (Kevin) Bartlett. He's not hyper-mobile, which means he doesn't dislocate fingers or rupture ligaments ... The amazing thing is that his joints just keep on going, and he hasn't lost any of his speed. He's still under three seconds for 20 metres."

Set to become only the third player in history to play 400 games – he and Ken already hold the record for most father-son games – Dustin's durability puts him alongside Stephen Silvagni and Matthew Scarlett as the best fullback of the modern era. Some would say that those long limbs put him an inch or two ahead.

And it's worth noting Dustin could have played even more games if, back in 1993, he hadn't chosen to line up for his dad's side a few times, instead of a slightly more prestigious one coached by one Kevin Sheedy.

"I'd been at Essendon Grammar ever since I was pretty young and to play with mates was important ... I thought 'I'm going to play a lot of AFL footy so one game with my school mates wouldn't hurt. I thought that was what it came down to'," Fletcher said.

And he was right. Dustin has done it all in his time – two premierships, two All Australians, even a stint as Australia's goalkeeper against Ireland – but what matters is still the thrill of playing with mates, and it's that that will see him play on.

"To tell you the truth what I get out of it now ... (is) seeing these young kids coming along," says the AFL's oldest player.  "I know what (success) feels like and to now see the joy and excitement on the young kids' faces after big wins has been the best bit for me. If I can help them out in any way, then I'm going to do that."

As it happens, Ken retired as coach of Essendon Grammar this year. Maybe that's Dustin's next job?


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What's he on? 378? The 400 looks difficult. :huh: He's just the player that deserves it though.









hope he stays at the club another year  , would good too see him coach in some form , talks like a daniher , never gets overly flustered  yeh , nah , sure ;-)

Has anyone mentioned him for interim coach?


I can't wait to see him line up along side his kids.

I reckon they should put him in the forward line nextr season



too much body contact at ff, ecspecially the way we deliver it, let him play loose between the flanks, can kick them from 60 and can drop back and sweep if needed.


fark I love seeing him kick a goal but.

Dustin can play wherever he wants! He is an Essendon FC Legend in my opinion!

I like this kind of logic. It got me named as FF in the upcoming forum footy match.

Fletch has had lots of soft tissue injuries the last couple, denying the team much needed continuity

When he plays he’s brilliant

That’s the problem … when

Would be nice to break the record but think it’s time …

If it comes down to the romance of 400 games for Fletch or another 8 years for Pears what do people think?

Pears might wake up and find himself again you never know?

If it comes down to the romance of 400 games for Fletch or another 8 years for Pears what do people think?

It won't

If it comes down to the romance of 400 games for Fletch or another 8 years for Pears what do people think?

I just answered this in the other thread.