REACHING 300 games is pretty rare in any football competition.
At Lockington-Bamawm United this weekend Dean Mitchell will enter this rarefied stratosphere.
But that’s just at LBU.
The rising 46 year-old veteran clocked a lazy 150 games at Echuca before making the switch back to LBU.
That’s because it was only five minutes down the road from his farm, and at his age those minutes count when you’re getting to a game.
And he gets a real kick out of the youngsters he plays with because he started playing with the fathers of most of them.
Mitchell started his footy career at age 11 for LBU and played there until 2001 when he played on the Gold Coast for a year before again jumping ship to the Murray Bombers where he remained for the next seven years.
From there he moved to Leitchville-Gunbower as a playing coach, before finally returning back to Locky.
‘‘It’s not quite 500 games,’’ Mitchell said.
‘‘I think if I play most of the year I’ll be around about 480 all up. I’m 46 now coming up 47 this year. I don’t know when I’ll stop.’’
For Mitchell, the camaraderie of the game, combined with health benefits of the regular exercise is what draws him back.
‘‘My biggest thing is the social aspect of footy,’’ he said.
‘‘You talk about men’s health, and for men, whether it’s football or cricket, local sport gives you a bit of an outlet, it certainly gives me an outlet, and I’ve been fortunate enough with good health to keep going with it.’’
There have been years where he’s taken a back seat and let young guns take his spot on the field.
‘‘I probably would have reached it before now if I hadn’t, but it’s a young man’s sport, not for old blokes like me,’’ Mitchell said.
Nearly going game for game with Mitchell is 44 year-old brother Corey.
‘‘We’ve played football together all those years, I think he’s well over 250 (games) as well, Corey. His wife told me when I retire he’ll retire,’’ he said.
When summing up his feelings about Saturday’s game, Mitchell said if his side get the win it will be all worth it.
‘‘I think it’s pretty special to play that many for one club, it’s an achievement but you don’t really think about making achievements. Your sense of achievement comes from getting premierships,’’ he said.
The best thing about playing for so long are the people beside him on the field, he said.
‘‘I play with some guys now who I’ve played with their dads. Full credit to Kahl (Oliver, LBU coach), he’s created that enthusiasm around the club, if a guy like that comes back to coach you want to be involved and he’s made that happen this year,’’ he said.
Mitchell said if it were not for his kids and wife, mum and dad, he would have stopped playing long ago.
‘‘Thanks for putting up with me and all these years of footy. And thanks to all the clubs and coaches I’ve played for in my time.’’