It’s a question often asked in football … does a major milestone have any effect on performance?

Statistical evidence at least in the Lions camp says it’s largely irrelevant given Brisbane has a 10-9 win/loss record when a player is playing his 200th game.

Logic then says, while in reality so much depends on specific circumstances, like who plays who, where and when, a player heading into a milestone game can reasonably expect a 50-50 chance.

Sadly, not Kevin Murray. The Fitzroy games record-holder and AFL Hall of Famer had to be content with a loss at every major milestone throughout his stellar career … 100-150-200-250-300.

Still, his 200th game in Round 16 1968, the subject of this week’s “Fitzroy Flashback” was one to remember. And it was so nearly one of the great upset and comeback wins.

Fitzroy, 10th on the 12-team ladder, played Essendon at Princes Park as Murray became the club’s 5th 200-gamer after Frank Curcio (1946), Alan Ruthven (1953), Norm Johnstone (1956) and Alan Gale (1961).

It was a twin celebration for the Lions under coach Bill Stephen, with Norm Brown playing his 100th game, but Murray and the Brown were the only players with 100 games’ experience, and 14 had played less than 50.

Still, they led at every change, were as many as 25 points up at halftime and 11 points up at three-quarter time as Fitzroy found an unlikely strike weapon at full-forward in a 21-year-old Doug Searl, playing his fourth game for Fitzroy after a mid-season switch from Collingwood.

Despite playing much of his later football at centre half back Searl finished with 170 goals from 131 games with Fitzroy before coaching the Fitzroy Under 19s to a premiership in 1982.

But not even Searl’s heroics could help the Lions in Murray’s 200th game, and in a heart-stopper, they went down 93 - 94. John Murphy, with 28 possessions and two goals, was Fitzroy’s leading possession-winner and only other multiple goal-kicker, while Murray had 25 possessions and David Rhodes 22 possessions.

Just as Garry Wilson and Paul Roos each played their 200th games in Round 15 matches 10 years apart, Murray and Warwick Irwin did likewise in Round 16 matches 13 years apart.

Irwin posted his double century in Round 16 1980 with Fitzroy playing North Melbourne at Waverley. And he, too, had to be satisfied with a spirited loss as the Lions went down 86 - 115.

Irwin was the club’s 7th 200-gamer after John Murphy had reached the same milestone in 1977, and was later followed by Wilson (1981), David McMahon (1983), Mick Conlan (1988) and Roos (1991).

Like Murray, Irwin was among his side’s better players in his milestone game, collecting 25 possessions as Wilson had 33, Bob Beecroft kicked four goals and Robert Walls three goals.

The only Fitzroy players to enjoy a win in their 200th game were Ruthven, Johnstone and Conlan.


Fitzroy played their fifth AFL game at Collingwood’s Victoria Park headquarters back in 1897 and used it as their home base in 1985-86. It was the closest of opposition venues to suburban Fitzroy, and despite a 34-78 aggregate record at the ground was the scene of many memorable occasions.

But in Round 16 1996 Fitzroy made their 113th and last visit in the home of the black and white army.

It was Sunday 21 July – 17 days after the merger with Brisbane had been confirmed – and they were coming off losses to Essendon and West Coast in the previous fortnight.

Alan McConnell, in his fifth game as caretaker coach and the second game of his second stint, called up Simon Hawking and Peter Doyle after losing captain Brad Boyd and Matthew Dent to injury.

For a half the Lions matched a Magpies outfit that sat 12th on the ladder at 5-10 but was coming off a 61-point win over third-placed North Melbourne in Round 15. It was 5-9 to 7-4 at the long break, and if they’d kicked a little more accurately Fitzroy could have been in front.

But not for the first time they fell away in the second half and went down 76 - 118.

Chris Johnson topped the Fitzroy goal-kicking sheet with three, while Danny Morton (25 possessions) and Simon Atkins (24 possessions) were strong contributors in what was Trent Cummings’ 27th and last game for the club.

But the hero was Martin Pike. With 31 possessions the former Melbourne draftee, later to win the last Fitzroy B&F award, earned Fitzroy’s very last three-vote rating in the Brownlow Medal.