Dustin Fletcher at St Kilda Sea Baths this year. Photo: Wayne Taylor
Evergreen Bomber Dustin Fletcher will play on for a 22nd AFL season with Essendon, the veteran Bomber virtually assured of passing Simon Madden as the club's games record holder.
It was revealed at the club's best-and-fairest count on Wednesday night that the 38-year-old had signed on for yet another season at Windy Hill. His announcement was met with loud applause.
"I'm pleased to tell you I will be having a crack next year," he said.
Fletcher will turn 39 next May and currently shares the Essendon games record of 378 with Madden.
They are equal-fourth on the AFL games record behind Hawthorn's Michael Tuck (426), Richmond’s Kevin Bartlett (403) and St Kilda’s two-time Brownlow Medallist Robert Harvey (383).
Fletcher played 13 senior games this season and is on track to overtake Harvey next year. He was suspended for the last two games of this season and then Essendon were kicked out of the finals because of their supplements scandal.
Function host Tim Watson joked with Fletcher that he had not mentioned he had signed a 10-year deal like Lance Franklin with the Swans.
Fletcher made his AFL debut in 1993 at the age of 17, when he was still in school, and has been remarkable for his durability.The Bombers backman referred to Franklin’s controversial deal with Sydney when he spoke about his new contract.
‘‘It would be nice if it was nine or $10 million, but ... I’m just happy with the loose change they have left over,’’ he said.
Earlier, Fletcher said his late-season suspension had given him motivation to play again.
"To be honest missing the last couple of games this year made me really hungry to play again in 2014," Fletcher told the club's website.
"I've said it before, but to be able to come to the club and work with 40 of your mates and play footy for a living is a great job.
"Breaking the club's games record wasn't a motivating factor for me. The body is feeling good, I've still got my speed and we've got a great group of players here."
"While I can still contribute and play my role for the team I want to keep playing."
Scott Spits and AAP