The two matches shown last week both involved milestone performances by two longtime champion footballers: North Melbourne/St. Kilda and Sydney at Fremantle.
We'll start with Kangaroos champion Brent Harvey who set the AFL record for career games played with 427. He is listed at 167 cm/77kg, or about 5 feet 8 inches tall, 170 pounds and plays on the forward line. Being that size, speed and accuracy are important parts of his game. He debuted in 1996 and has played in two Grand Finals, winning in 1999. Hawthorn's Michael Tuck held the previous record of 426 games before his retirement in 1991.
Harvey, at age 38, seems to think he can still play and contribute-- he sees 450 games as a possibility. Watching him zip through the middle of the field makes me think sure, why not? However Harvey is aware of the needs of the club and is loyal to the club when he understands it's not about him.
North defeated the Saints 85-62. Harvey kicked his only goal near the end of the game. The Saints needed to win to keep their hopes alive of finishing in the top 8.
Freo's Matthew Pavlich is 6'3" and 220 lbs (192 cm/99 kg) and is a center half-forward. He reached milestone game number 350 this past week. Matty Pavs was the Dockers' captain from 2007-15, and he's played in one Grand Final, falling to Hawthorn in 2013. His height is a major advantage when taking marks within range of goal. He's one of only 15 men in the history of the league (which dates back to 1897) to reach 350 games.
Pavlich's milestone was overshadowed by Harvey's. Didn't really matter much-- Freo stayed within shouting distance in the first half, but Sydney blew it wide open in the second, winning by 90 points. In listening to the commentators, it sounds like the retirement writing is on the wall for Matthew. It's weird, since at age 34 you'd think he's got a few more years left. Also a little sad that such a fine and versatile player has not hoisted a premiership trophy.
An individual player's milestone games seem to be more of a thing down under than they do here in the states. My thought is that we place a higher value on it when a coach does it, and more likely if it's a round (and big) number win. Maybe it has something to do with the number of games that are played. Here it's 82 (NBA), 162 (MLB), 16 (NFL), and 80 (NHL). These just don't seem to be numbers that lend themselves to milestone games, with the exception of the NFL, but that's slightly misleading, as the nature of the NFL leads to more injuries, missed games, and subsequent retirements.
So it's nice to see the AFL honor two of their all-time greats.
On the DVR this week: four weeks left in the 2016 home-and-away season. Collingwood/Richmond and North Melbourne is at the Western Bulldogs. The hot-and cold Magpies are in 12th position on the ladder, and Richmond laid an egg last week in a big loss to GWS.
North is in 8th position, three games clear of ninth place with four games to play. The Bulldogs are in 7th place with the same number of wins, but ahead of NMFC by virtue of a higher percentage. That ought to be a fun one.
This means the eight playoff sides are already in place, barring some unusual occurrences. First-place Hawthorn leads the field by two games. After that it's a mess. four teams are tied at 13 wins and three are knotted a game behind at 12 victories. So it'll be a wild ride, but it seems as though we know who the eight will be.