Bathurst Bushrangers’ most capped player, Brian Matheson, will notch up a incredible milestone in this Saturday’s Central West AFL derby, the Rebels veteran will make his 400th appearance when his side takes on the Outlaws.
Matheson’s 399 appearances to date are split almost evenly among Bathurst Eagles and Bushrangers colours, the first of those coming back in 2001.
The 400th game has arrived a little later than Matheson was expecting but he’s thrilled to see it come on derby day.
“The plan was to get up to 400 last year on grand final day. Retiring after that would have been the way to go, but with seven games to go I tore my bicep off the bone and had to get that screwed back on,” he said.
“It’s worked out well to fall on the day and it’s going to be a great atmosphere.
“That club spirit is what’s made it easy to play for such a long time. I just want to be around the guys all the time.
“When I first came here we’d won one game in around three years, and even before the merger the club went through some tough times.
“For the club to be so strong now comes down to not just that culture but also its focus on developing junior football and keeping people in the club.
“There’s so many I’ve coached in AusKick who are now among the best players in the league. It makes it easy to run around with other guys who you’ve had an influence on through the years.”
The all-time club record has belonged to Matheson since 2015 when he passed Chris Long’s mark of 359.
Matheson’s 400-game milestone has come not long after his son Sebastian’s 150th club game.
Being able to play alongside his son was another reason Matheson cited as important to keeping him motivated on the ground.
Outlaws captain Tim Hunter said Matheson has been an outstanding club man.
“It’s an amazing achievement. He’s there Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays coaching our juniors,” he said.
“Having this game fall on the derby is really special because there’s a lot of us on both Bushrangers teams who have either played with him or have been coached by him.
“It’s a special moment for him and it will be great to celebrate that after the game.”
Still, Hunter and his team are looking to spoil the party and spring an upset.
The Rebels have the edge on the ladder although Outlaws took the spoils in round one.
“This should be a really good game. These derbies are some of the best games in the competition and they’re always played in great spirit,” Hunter said.
“Both teams are hungry for a win given how close this season is. Orange, Giants and Dubbo are all around the mark.”
First bounce in Saturday’s sentimental derby is at 2.30pm at George Park.