<I>First published: June 2016, on carltonfc.com.au </I>
Kade Simpson’s impending 256th game for Carlton on Saturday night – against arch rival Collingwood on the mighty MCG – doubles as a history-making moment for the little big man in the No.6 Guernsey. For game No.256 puts Simpson in equal ninth place with Alex Jesaulenko for most senior club matches played in 120 years of League competition.
At Spotless Stadium against Greater Western Sydney last Saturday, 'Simmo' drew level with Carlton premiership player and three-time club best and fairest Brett Ratten in the top 10 on 255.
Ratten was first to acknowledge Simpson’s achievement this week. “Given his size, ‘Simmo’s’ career has been one of courage really,” Ratten said.
“He was the skinny boy from the Yarra Valley who grew up just down the road from Damian Monkhorst, but they’re obviously chalk and cheese in terms of body shape.
“When you look at what ‘Simmo’ weighs and what he does in a physical situation, he defies logic. The fact that he is still putting his body on the line, has made it to 255 and is still going strong, is a real credit to him. He has the skill in the air and he can do it at ground level too.”
Ratten also regarded Simpson as extremely coachable. As he said: “He was always up for a challenge and he always tried to assist others. He was also open to change and was an easy player to coach”.
“The biggest thing for ‘Simmo’ is that his whole agenda has been to make Carlton better, and that’s his legacy – he’s true blue. He doesn’t chase the accolades, he just wants to do his bit . . . and I think he should go on.”
Game 256 also puts Simpson within reach of David McKay in eighth place on 263, and an uninterrupted run (through to and including the 2017 home and away season plus a ’16 or ’17 final) would see him overtake Geoff Southby (268) and Anthony Koutoufides (278), and draw level with Justin Madden on 287.
That would elevate the 2013 John Nicholls Medallist to fifth place for most Carlton games played - behind Stephen Silvagni (312), John Nicholls (328), Bruce Doull (356) and the games record holder Craig Bradley (375).
What a journey it’s been for Simpson, taken by Carlton at selection 45 after the club’s first and second-round selections were denied due to salary cap infractions. How grandly Emerald’s own has worn the No.6 into battle – just as Garry Crane, Ern Henfry and Bob Chitty did before him
Carlton's top 10 games record holders: