Shane Edwards will become just the fifth Richmond player and eighth Indigenous man to play 300 V/AFL games in Sunday’s big clash with Brisbane.
The three-time premiership player joins Kevin Bartlett (403 games), Jack Riewoldt (321), Jack Dyer (311) and Francis Bourke (an even 300) on the milestone.
The softly spoken Edwards said it had been a long, “surreal” journey to the mark.
“It doesn’t sound right or sit well with me at the moment. They’re legends of the game and people I’ve looked up to for so long,” Edwards said.
“It’s probably one of those things where I’ll look back and see my name on the list and smile, I’m honestly lost for words.”
Edwards has vivid memories of his first game, which came in round four, 2007 against the Western Bulldogs, playing under Terry Wallace.
“I started on the bench and came onto the wing, playing on Brad Johnson. He took me straight to the goal-square, obviously smelling some weakness. I played out the rest of the game and I thought it was the biggest day of my life. life up to that point,” he said.
“I always look back on the tough times to make me appreciate the last five years and how hard it is to get there. It’s really been an incredible climb from where we came from when I got here. The club’s in a different position, everything looks different, it’s pretty mind-blowing how things can change over time.
“From some of those dark times, we got some of our best players like ‘Cotch’ and ‘Dusty’ (Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin), you can’t look back too badly on those times.”
Despite having 299 games under his belt, the dynamic Edwards still hasn’t settled on a preferred position, having played across all three lines and even captaining the club at one point in 2019.
“I’ve had a few chats with Dimma in end-of-season and mid-year reviews, and we’re still trying to figure out where I play my best footy. It’s something we’ll probably never figure out.
“All I knew coming through juniors and playing here, is if I can be a really good teammate, then it probably takes me pretty far. That’s what I’ve been trying to do since day one, trying to be someone my teammates want to play with every week, and add to the unselfish culture we have here.”
Club CEO Brendon Gale spoke glowingly on the impact Edwards has had on all aspects of the club.
“Shane’s been a wonderful player. He’s been in the thick of some of the biggest moments in the biggest games over the last 10 to 12 years,” Gale said.
“We often say the true test of a player’s worth is his or her ability to make the players around them better. If that’s the case, there’s none better than Shane Edwards. He’s been remarkable in making the players around him better.
“Secondly, I can make a really strong case of perhaps him being our most influential player. His journey and his growth through that journey has really coincided with our growth and journey as a footy club, and particularly as we’ve opened our minds and hearts to our First Nations people. It’s made us a better football club, and a better team.”