WHEN Lachie Crawford made his senior debut as a 17-year-old, he figured he would join his father David as a 200-plus-game player at Hamilton.
But a year out of the game with a bulging disc in his back in 2007, a broken hand in 2010 and broken collarbone in a pre-season game in 2012 changed all that.
Tomorrow, 15 years after his first match, Crawford makes his 200th appearance when Hamilton Kangaroos host North Warrnambool Eagles at Melville Oval.
The 32-year-old is the first player wearing Kangaroos colours to reach the milestone, having played 175 senior matches with Hamilton in the Western Border league before it and Hamilton Imperials merged to join the Hampden league last year.
“For a few years there I didn’t think I would get there because of the injuries,” Crawford said.
“It’s good to get there.”
Not many have during Crawford’s career. He remembers only Brian McGinley and Greg Stevens achieving the feat at Hamilton in his time.
“I’m pretty pleased to get there and do it with one club,” he said.
Crawford, having grown up in a family steeped in Hamilton Magpies tradition, said he reluctantly supported the merger.
“I knew it was for the betterment of the town and football. It needed to happen. I was for it. But I was a bit sceptical how it would happen with players from both clubs but it’s been good, there hasn’t been any issues.
“The merger sparked me up a bit. The last few years at Hamilton we had really tough seasons in the Western Border league and they would bring you down. The merger has been great, pushing you to a higher standard of footy. It’s brought out the best in some blokes.”
He said the style of play in the Hampden league was significantly different to the Western Border league … quicker, more skilful.
“It’s more exciting footy and that’s shown with our home crowds, there’s a lot more support.”
Football has played a big part in his life. He met his wife Clare, a netballer with the then-Magpies. She is a versatile goalie with the Kangaroos’ A grade side and together they have a young son Connor. They will be at tomorrow’s match, along with his parents.
The carpenter is keen to extend his career next season.
“The body is holding up pretty well. I don’t do as much training as I used to. I still like to run a bit, that’s my game.”
He developed his game with two years in the TAC Cup competition with North Ballarat Rebels, playing most positions. But he has spent most of his senior career either in the midfield or dashing off half-back. After brother Gareth joined the Kangaroos last year, they have spent time onball together.