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May 28 2015
The Red Sash
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28th May 2015
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The Red Sash

Rd 8 - Fletch you're a star..

The Red Sash weekly ramble  (Follow @The _Red_Sash on Twitter).

Round 8 - Essendon VS Brisbane Lions

Eithad   Sunday 24th May 2015

Fletch you’re a star…

As we count down to playing Richmond this weekend – I’d like to pay tribute to my good mate Dustin Fletcher who plays his 400th game this round. Yes 400! Only the 3rd player in VFL/AFL history to do so, he represents the pure soul & fabric of the Essendon Football Club, let’s hope the boys can get over the line against the Tigers – and maybe watch Fletch line up with one of his famous 50 metre torpedos – no one deserves it more than him.
Good on ya Fletch!
•    1 X Best & Fairest 2000
•    2 X Premierships 1993, 2000
•    2 x All Australian 
•    4 x Australian International Rules
•    400 games
•    4535 kicks
•    1749 marks
•    1387 handballs
•    5922 disposals
•    71 goals
•    450 tackles
•    Born 7 May 1975

He also holds the record of being the most watched AFL footballer of all time, with a cumulative attendance of 19,133,411 spectators at matches in which he has played from 1993 to present. 
Dustin was recruited by Essendon in the 1992 AFL Draft and played his first game for the Bombers against Carlton in his senior year of high school at Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School. He was a key member of Essendon's 1993 premiership team in his first AFL season, a team which is referred to as the "Baby Bombers".
He also played in the 2000 premiership win, a year in which he also won the club's best and fairest award.  Dustin and his father, Ken Fletcher, currently hold the record for the most VFL/AFL career games played by a father and son, with 661 games between them.
Fletcher holds the outright Essendon games record, having overtaken the previous record of 378 games held by Simon Madden in Round 1, 2014.
Consistency has been central to his durability, he hasn’t lost as speed either….to pick a favourite 'Fletch' memory is hard so here’s a few that I remember well since I watched him play against Ivanhoe Grammar as a year 12 student one week to the next playing against Carlton….in his first game back in 1993!

GAME ONE: The debut, round two, 1993 
Fletcher, then a year 12 student at Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School, where his father Ken coached, made his debut against Carlton at the MCG. He started in the ruck and finished with six disposals and five hit-outs. He was up against Carlton ruckman Justin Madden, a premiership player for the Blues. The game is best remembered for Carlton spearhead Stephen Kernahan's shot at goal after the siren, which sailed out of bounds on the full and left it as a draw. 

"I didn't think he was ready when he got in because I thought he was too skinny. I always thought he had a lot of ability, but I didn't naturally assume he would be a walk-up start. I was sort of hoping they'd wait until he was ready. But apparently he was." – Ken Fletcher 

GAME 17: The flag, Grand Final, 1993 
Fletcher's first season was full of tough asks after moving from the ruck to full-back. The Bombers didn't have a wealth of key defensive players. Fletcher took the main men. That included Adelaide's Tony Modra and Geelong's Gary Ablett. In the Grand Final, Fletcher took on Stephen Kernahan. The Carlton skipper kicked seven goals, but Fletcher won a premiership in his first AFL season. 

"We had to make some bold decisions that year and one was going to be Fletcher. He never let us down. If we didn't have him in that side, I don't think we would have won a premiership. That's how important he was. Not that he was a great player at the time, but he gave us an opportunity to balance the team." – Kevin Sheedy
GAME 151: The second flag, Grand Final, 2000
It is often said the most prestigious award in football is winning the best and fairest in a premiership season. Fletcher achieved that in 2000, in the best-ever season by a VFL/AFL team. Essendon lost only one game for the year and Fletcher was central to the Bombers' success. In the Grand Final he played on Melbourne captain David Neitz, who kicked two goals. The full-back trumped star teammates such as James Hird and Matthew Lloyd to be named club champion.

"I was so happy for him. To win it in a year like that was a real feather in his cap. When I see some of his highlights from that season, his attack on the ball and taking it at full speed was fantastic." – Ken Fletcher 

GAME 217: The missing teeth, round 16, 2004
It took bravery to play on opponents who were bigger, stronger and heavier than Fletcher, and he has often done it without any concerns for his safety. Against West Coast at Subiaco Oval in Perth, Fletcher's two front teeth were knocked out in a marking collision. Trainers had to search for his teeth on the ground after he left the field with a bloodied face.

"His courage was an underrated quality. He was never a loud moaner at Essendon. He was just the perfect player to coach. His best coaches were Mark Harvey and Dean Wallis in the back half, they were very good for his contesting in the air." – Kevin Sheedy
GAME 332: The tackle, round 4, 2011
The wiry Fletcher has always been as fleet of mind as foot. It was evident against the Blues in this famous encounter, when Fletcher chased down Carlton speedster Jeff Garlett with a match-saving tackle. Fletcher's ability to match-up on small forwards has been part of his art. It started with West Coast's Phil Matera almost a decade ago, and in between he has beaten St Kilda star Stephen Milne and earlier last year outplayed Carlton goalsneak Eddie Betts. 

"It gives you a great insight into the man. If you can play on a small player and then roll out the next week and play on a key forward, that's the flexibility great sportspeople have. He has that in his mental toughness." – Kevin Sheedy “He could be anything!”
As Hirdy said after the game – Joey Daniher could be anything! His 6 goals were the best return since he started his career for Essendon – as soon as he had those early 2 goals you could see his confidence grow, maybe finding it hard over the last few weeks with the bigger body defenders – Sunday he dined out, lead well and kicked straight. Eight shots on goal – it was at time “Lloydesque”  
Overall the pressure from the boys was great – right up on previous weeks – Zach Merrett was fantastic, and his brother Jackson although not getting many touches is tackling was outstanding. 

 Cooney’s return really helped us – his touch and ability to set up forward entries showed why Hirdy wanted him last year to come to Essendon – his footy smarts really help us kick goals and he snagged 3 of his own.
The pressure after half time in the middle was excellent and the small forwards of Brisbane couldn’t contend with our big boys down back – Hurls is All Australian at the moment with hooker not too far behind. 
Again Hibberd also in contention for All Australian was back to his best, his rebound off half back was great, he must be considered as one of our most important players behind Jobe and Heppell.
Baguely also was excellent in the second half, every week he plays he gets better and better.
Under an open roof and in bright sunshine, we played with an attacking flair that has been missing in 2015, kicking 12 goals in the second half to win 21.10 (136) to 12.6 (78).
We broke the game open in the third quarter with seven goals, going on to kick more than 100 points for the second time this season, squaring our ledger at 4-4.
We ramped up our attacking game in the third quarter, dominating possession (95-53) and uncontested marks (22-6), and playing on at every opportunity to create an open forward line.
By the final siren our forwards had taken 17 marks inside 50, nine more than their previous best this season of eight.
Good news for Jason Winderlich – training well and should be back in 2-3 weeks. Myers also progressing well.
See you at the footy...

Regards The Red Sash

The Red Sash Medal – Round 7 Votes 
Hurley again was terrific – and in All Australian form, good that we got the win without Watson and Heppell having to do all the work….
7 Hurley 
6 Daniher
5 Baguley
4 Hibberd
3 Hooker
2 Cooney
1 Stanton

The Red Sash Medal – Totals after Round 7
35 Heppell
29 Watson
28 Hurley
26 Hooker
15 Goddard
13 Howlett
12 Stanton
8 Melksham
8 Hibberd
8 Baguley
7 Fletcher
7 Z Merrett
6 Daniher
6 Carlisle
5 Cooney
4 Ambrose
2 Zaharakis
2 Gleeson
2 Dempsey
1 Coyler

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