Dustin Andrew Fletcher
7 May 1975 (age 48)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 17y 331d
Last game: 40y 23d
Height and weight
Height: 198 cm
Weight: 92 kg
Best & fairest
Crichton Medal (Essendon B&F) 2000.
|Club||League||Career span||Games||Goals||Avg||Win %||AKI||AHB||AMK||BV|
|Australia||IR||2005-2006, 2010, 2014-2015||8||0||0.00||—||—||—||—||—|
When Dustin Fletcher made his AFL debut in round two, 1993, he was just 17 years of age and still at high school. Indeed Fletcher (the son of former Essendon captain Ken), who became an automatic selection in the senior team from very early on, missed several games for the Dons that year because school football took precedence.
Twenty-two years and two premierships later, Fletcher is still a defensive mainstay for the red and black and set to become the third player, behind Kevin Bartlett and Michael Tuck, to reach the exalted milestone of 400 V/AFL games. He is deservedly feted as not only one of Essendon’s greatest players, but one of the finest backmen in the history of the competition.
Fletcher’s debut season was the stuff of dreams, and in just his 17th game he was part of the ‘Baby Bombers’ premiership side that defeated Carlton in the 1993 Grand Final. Lean and lanky, some would even say gangly, with long arms and legs, Fletcher honed an amazing ability to get his fist to the ball just as it was about to be marked by an opposition forward. More often than not, he would then gather the loose ball and clear it with a long, raking kick. Though he spent the vast majority of his career in defence, Fletcher was certainly not averse to drifting forward a kicking a goal with one of his trademark torpedoes.
In 2000, Fletcher experienced premiership success again, with the Bombers easily defeating Melbourne in that year’s Grand Final, going on to win his club's best and fairest, the Crichton Medal, that year. There have been no flags since, but Fletcher is still an integral part of Essendon’s defence, notwithstanding being 'rested' from time to time. At age 40, he is currently the oldest player in the AFL, with 2015 being his 23rd season. Not since Vic Cumberland last appeared for St Kilda in 1920 has there been a V/AFL player aged over 40. Whether Fletcher’s career will extend beyond 2015 is a point of conjecture, but when he does finally hang up the boots, the dual All-Australian (2000 and 2007) and International Rules rep, will do so as an Essendon legend and future Australian Football Hall of famer.
Author - Andrew Gigacz