With Dustin Fletcher set to become only the third player in VFL/AFL history to play 400 games, we have a brief look at the players who have played the most career games in the history of the competition.
1. Michael Tuck (426 games 1972-991 – Hawthorn)
Tuck holds the record for the most career games with 426 matches for his beloved Hawks. Tuck was not only incredibly durable, playing until 38 years of age, but also had an incredibly decorated career. Tuck won a record seven premierships with the Hawks (1976, 78, 83, 86, 88, 89, 91) and played in 11 Grand Finals. He also captained the club from 1986 up until his retirement in 1991.
2. Kevin Bartlett (403 games 1965-1983 – Richmond)
Richmond’s Kevin Bartlett is widely regarded as one of the greatest players to ever play the game. Despite playing mostly as a rover, Bartlett managed to kick an amazing 778 goals. Bartlett won five premierships (1967, 69, 73, 74, 90) and five best and fairests (1967, 68, 73, 74, 77) for the Tigers. He won the Norm Smith Medal in 1980 for best afield in Richmond’s Grand Final defeat to Collingwood and was Richmond’s leading goal kicker on four occasions. Bartlett was inducted as a Legend of the AFL Hall of Fame in the year 2000 and he is a member of Richmond’s Team of the Century.
3. Dustin Fletcher (399 games – 1993-present – Essendon)
Fletcher will this week play his 400th game for the Bombers, becoming just the third man in VFL/AFL history to do so. The oldest player currently playing AFL turned 40 two weeks ago, highlighting just how well his body has held up during the rigours of AFL football. He is still as slender and nimble as his early days, with his long, skinny, outstretched arms still causing havoc for forwards. The key defender has won two premierships with the Bombers (1993 and 2000) and has been selecting in the All-Australian team on two occasions (2000 and 2007).
4. Brent Harvey (392 games – 1996-present – North Melbourne)
There are only two players who have currently played over 400 career games in the history of our great game, however, incredibly, barring any injuries or unforseen circumstances, two more will join the list this season. North Melbourne’s Brent Harvey seems to have lost none of his speed, and at 37 years-old can, still runs rings around the opposition. The midfielder was part of the 1999 premiership side with the Roos and is part of the North Melbourne Team of the Century.
5. Robert Harvey (383 games – 1988-2008 – St. Kilda)
The St. Kilda champion never tasted the ultimate success of a premiership win, but his credentials are outstanding none the less. The much revered figure of Australian football won two Brownlow medals (1997, 1998) and was named in the All-Australian team a whopping eight times during his illustrious career. Harvey captained the Saints in 2001 and 2002.
6. Simon Madden (378 games – 1974-1992 – Essendon)
Madden is one of the best ruckman to have ever played the game. The big man was a member of Essendon’s 1984 and 85 premiership teams, winning the Norm Smith medal in the 1985 Grand Final. He was the Essendon captain from 1980 to 81 and won four best and fairests for the club.
7. Craig Bradley (375 games – 1986-2002 – Carlton)
Bradley is one of the most decorated players in Carlton’s long and successful history. Bradley was part of the 1987 and 1995 premiership teams for the Blues. He won three best and fairests (1986, 88, 93) with the club and was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame in 2006.
8. Bernie Quinlan (366 games: Footscray [177 games – 1967-77] Fitzroy [189 games 1978-86])
Quinlan kicked 817 goals in 366 games, putting him 10th on the all-time leading goal kickers list. He remarkably kicked 576 of those goals in his 189 games at Fitzroy. Quinlan won the 1981 Brownlow Medal and the 1983 and 84 Coleman Medals. He is a member of the Brisbane Lions and AFL Hall of Fame.
9. Brad Johnson (364 games -1994-2010 – Western Bulldogs)
Johnson scored 558 goals in 364 games for the Bulldogs. He won three best and fairest awards for the club (1999, 2002, 2006) and led the goal kicking for the club from 2005-2007. He was Bulldogs captain from 2007 to 2010 and is a member of the Western Bulldogs Team of the Century.
10. John Blakey (359 games: Fitzroy [135 games- 1985-92] North Melbourne [224 games 1993-2002])
Blakey played in North Melbourne’s 1996 and 1999 premiership sides and was an essential part of their defence during that time. Blakey also played a variety of roles in North’s midfield, having the most success as a tagger. He was named as an emergency in North Melbourne’s Team of the Century.