ClubMulwala members with 30 years of continuous membership enjoyed a cocktail function last Thursday evening and heard special guest, Essendon great, Dustin Fletcher tell of his football journey.
“It’s a great opportunity to celebrate our great club and catch up with old friends,” ClubMulwala Chief Executive Officer Alan Rowe said.
“Congratulations to those members breaking into the 30-year membership. On behalf of the board, welcome, and thank you for coming along. We have AFL royalty here, the 400-gamer and Essendon great, Dustin Fletcher.”
ClubMulwala President Des O’Meara ESM OAM added his welcome. Mr O’Meara said it was good to see 23 members with 50 years plus membership and was proud to advise the 180 attendees of the club’s much healthier financial position.
“The club recorded a $1.24 million trading profit for 2016/17 and in May this year we became debt-free having paid $3.1 million off,” the president said.
ClubMulwala’s 30-year and plus members loved hearing Dustin Fletcher who has played the fourth most VFL/AFL games in history with exactly 400. He delivered a most interesting address.
The now 42-year-old Bombers defender played in Essendon’s premierships sides of 1993 and 2000, was named All-Australian in 2000 and 2007, moved quickly on the footy oval for a 1.98cm (6’6”) and often kicked a booming torpedo to send the Bombers into attack.
“It’s nice to be here,” he said. “Everything’s on the table!” Dustin’s invitation was immediately snapped up regarding the drugs scandal which rocked the Bombers and the football world.
“James wanted bigger bodies. I don’t really blame James Hird or Bomber Thompson. I think the biggest mistake was getting Dank and Robinson (who implemented the program),” Dustin said.
“I never got tested. I didn’t feel any effect. I don’t classify myself as a drug cheat.”
Best players Dustin played with were James Hird, Gavin Wanganeen, Mark Mercuri and Jobe Watson. “Tim (Jobe’s Dad) was my idol.” Toughest opponent was Hawthorn’s Jason Dunstall and the most goals kicked on him was nine, by Melbourne’s Allan Jacovich.
“ ‘Plugger’ was scary, 140kg and Gary Ablett senior was an absolute champion. It was a different style of game back then. I like the old game when a full-back played on a full-forward in or near the goal square, centre-half-back on a centre-half forward, wingmen on wingmen the whole game. Now anyone can have 25 to 30 touches a game.” Loud applause followed.
Fletcher recalled, as a 17-year-old, how he received $7,500 signing-on payment and then $1,000 per game.
For Bombers’ fans, Fletcher believes the ultimate prize may be a year of two away, “But the Bulldogs and Richmond (premiers over last two years) have given hope to other sides like Essendon,” he said.
ClubMulwala members loved the night. “He was extremely good,” longest ClubMulwla member in attendance with fast approaching 56 years, Tony Browning, 76, commented about Dustin Fletcher. “The club did a real good job. A great night.”
Mr Rowe summed up the night: “It was terrific. We’re very privileged to have so many 30-year plus members who are still actively involved in the club.
“It was our pleasure to host a function for our members who are so supportive of ClubMulwala.”