Glen Smith joins elite 400 club

Boolarra's Glen Smith played his 400th game for the club against Hill End at the weekend. photograph hayley mills

Boolarra's Glen Smith played his 400th game for the club against Hill End at the weekend. photograph hayley mills

FOOTBALL

To play 400 games of Australian rules football is a feat so uncommon that it's reserved for the absolute best.

Just four AFL players have racked up a quadruple century at the top level – Kevin Bartlett, Michael Tuck, Brent Harvey and Dustin Fletcher.

Glen Smith may not have the same renown as that crop of AFL royalty, but for the last two decades he has stuck fat with Boolarra for all 400 of his senior games and has certainly earned his status as a legend of the Mid Gippsland Football League.

Smith made his senior football debut for the Demons' reserves in 1998 as a 19-year-old and won the first of six best and fairest trophies in just his second season.

Now 39, he said he "isn't playing the best" – although last year's best and fairest gong a staggering 19 years after his first would suggest otherwise.

Game 400 came in the reserves against Hill End at the weekend, and while the Demons' on-field struggles are well documented, the "better days" at the club are not too distant a memory for Smith.

"The game has gone up and down a bit, but a few years ago we made finals and had a pretty good team in those years and that was the best the football has been," Smith said.

"We had two years undefeated in the reserves and were bundled out in straight sets both years 2010 and 2011 ... but those were definitely the better years."

Boolarra born and bred and a dairy farmer by trade, he has been "really lucky injury-wise" with the exception of some broken ribs a few years back.

"Broken ribs is a normal football thing but my body has held up pretty well on the whole," he said.

"I keep very fit on the farm but I don't go to training much to be honest ... I haven't been in two years."

If not for the gentle coaxing of Boolarra reserves coach and good friend Mark Carnes, Smith would have called time on his career last year.

"I sort of said I'd had enough and said 'surely we've got enough players', but we were struggling and my mates conned me into going around again," he said.

"We're sort of scratching every week at the moment. It's week by week."

Wiry, quick and full of smarts, Smith has filled most spots on field at some point in time but has spent the bulk of it through the midfield or, in his twilight years, in a forward pocket.

He admits he sometimes gets a kick out of putting younger, often overly confident players, back in their box.

"There is a lot of [opposition] players that think it's going to come easy because I'm older," he said.

"There's a lot of people that know who I am and I hear a lot of 'don't get away from him, he is quick' and 'he's a smart footballer'."

He said the 20 years of play had "taken their toll on the body", but the game certainly hasn't passed him by.

"I do get a bit cunning and drop off. It's about knowing where the ball is going to go which makes it easier," he said.

"Especially when they get the ball and I run them down and tackle them. It makes me laugh and a few others laugh at times."

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