FORGET about Michael Tuck. While the VFL/AFL games record holder has 426 games to his name, he's got nothing on Andrew Hamer.
The former only played for 20 seasons. Hamer made his debut in 1983 and in round nine this season played his 500th match for the Bundoora Football Club against Montmorency.
From his first nine games of the year he booted 16 goals, including two in the opening game against West Preston Lakeside.
Hamer's 500 games is a Diamond Valley Football League/Northern Football League record. But it's more than numbers that are impressive – it's the honours that go with it.
Hamer is an eight-time premiership player, 15-time grand finalist, three-time club best-and-fairest, one-time league B&F, four-time club leading goalkicker, two-time league leading goalkicker, a Bundoora life member and is part of the club's team of the century.
Not shabby for a bloke aged 47 and in the 30th year of his career.
"Over the past 10 years, every year I've said 'this will be my last year'," he says. "You get to the end of the season and you're tired and worn out. But then you have a break, pre-season comes along and you're up and running again."
Hamer still remembers his first game well. "I was 17, still playing under-18s. We played against Heidelberg and they started me on the ball. They said 'we'll throw ya in amongst it'. At the first ball-up our ruckman tapped it straight to me and three blokes jumped on top of me and smashed me. 'Welcome to senior footy', they said, and off I went."
Of course, the game is much different now than it did in 1983.
"Back when I started it was a lot more physical in terms of one-on-one contests," Hamer says. "But today the game is much more professional and a lot quicker."
Hamer has witnessed Bundoora change from a ground with "small clubrooms" to a "fantastic footy club", saying the old suburban footy mentality of "boys' club" is a thing of the past.
"People come to Bundoora now and stay there," he says. "About five years ago the dynamic of the club changed and now we are known as a family club. We get stronger each year and it helps with the calibre of people and players we attract."
We could talk all day about the innumerable highlights from Hamer's career but he cherry-picks the back-to-back 1995-96 senior premierships as the pinnacle, the club's first Division 1 victory.
Inevitably, he has slowed down since then. He hasn't played a senior game for more than a decade, but coached the reserves for five years in the noughties and is still happily lacing up the boots for the twos each weekend.
"At the end of the season I'll sit back and look at it all but I'd be quite content to say that's enough now," he says, before adding with a laugh, "but I feel this way every year!"