Glenn Archer was nearing the end of his 15th season with North Melbourne, getting close to 300 games, but could feel his body betraying him. "I was uming and ahing about going on." He eventually bowed to coach Dean Laidley's urgings, signed for one more year, and took the unusual step of announcing his pending retirement before round one of 2007.

He knows he was fortunate - the Kangaroos, widely tipped to be cellar-dwellars, made the preliminary final. Archer became a deserving 300-game player, but more importantly to him, played 22 games and warranted his place in the side to the end.

Seven years on, he's still struggling to give it away. Now 41, he's trying to play enough games for Warrandyte in the Eastern Football League to qualify for the finals, but keeps hitting the same snag. "The last 10 games I've played I've torn a hammy every game. I do a hammy, have four weeks off, come back, do another one, have another four weeks off."

His explanation is that of every footballer who can't bear to let go. "My mates say, 'What are you playing fourth division EFL for?' Easy. Because I still can."