It is Darcy Wilmot’s birthday… Not his actual birthday, but the first anniversary of the birth of his AFL career.

It was 1 September 2022 when Wilmot, then an untried, ambitious 18-year-old in his first season in the AFL, was catapulted into the country’s hottest sporting arena.

It was no ordinary debut. He was the first and still only Brisbane player among now 346 over 37 years to debut in a final. And only the 34th among what was then 13,026 AFL players all-time, and the third since 1987.

He hasn’t missed a beat since. Or a game. And will play his 27th game in a row on Saturday week in the qualifying final against Port Adelaide at the Gabba.

Wilmot got his chance last year in the Gabba qualifying final against Richmond, when Cam Rayner and Noah Answerth were suspended, and Jarryd Lyons was injured. He joined Deven Robertson and Callum AhChee as reinforcements, and hasn’t looked like losing his spot since.


So impressive has he been that he ranked 5th overall in the 2023 AFL Rising Star Award in which Will Ashcroft was controversially – and many will say wrongly – overlooked for the top prize due to injury.

It’s all been part of a meteoric rise for the dynamic defender from the Northern Knights, who is only the fifth Brisbane player to wear #44.

Already he has climbed to second spot on the #44 games list behind champion Nigel Lappin (279), who is fourth all-time in the AFL at 279 behind Corey Enright (332), Justin Madden (332) and ex-Fitzroy favourite Richard Osborne (283), after quickly passing Archie Smith (16) and going past Aaron Cornelius (25) and Darren Carlson (25) in Round 24.

Still only 19, Wilmot boasts a 19-7 win/loss record – second-best all-time for the club after 26 games.

Only dual premiership player Robert Copeland was better. He was 23-3, having started his career with a loss before 16 wins in a row saw him win the 2001 flag in his 17th game. And four more wins to start 2002 stretched his streak to 20.


Keidean Coleman (18-8), Ash McGrath (17-1-8), Brandon Starcevich (17-9), Jonathan Brown (17-9) and Daniel Rich (16-1-9) are next best, but Wilmot’s early win ratio will be the envy of many of his teammates. Like Hugh McCluggage and Jarrod Berry, who started 4-22, and Harris Andrews and Eric Hipwood, who were 5-21.

Of the current Lions in contention to play against Port, only Jaspa Fletcher, Kai Lohman, James Tunstill and Harry Sharp have yet to experience finals football. Darcy Fort played has first and only final last year, while Jaxon Prior has played in the last final in each of the last two years.

Conor McKenna will play his third final and his first in Brisbane colours against Port. He had his first taste of September football in an elimination final loss with Essendon in 2017, and ended his 2019 season with the Bombers in the same fashion.

Lachie Neale and Charlie Cameron are the Lions most experienced finals players, having each played nine finals with Brisbane after seven finals with Fremantle and Adelaide respectively. The injured Jack Gunston (14) is next from Lincoln McCarthy (12), Josh Dunkley (11) and the injured Rich (11).

Lappin and Justin Leppitsch hold the record for most finals for Brisbane at 23, from Jason Akermanis and Shaun Hart (22), Darryl White (21), Simon Black and Alastair Lynch (20).

For the record, two Fitzroy players debuted in a final. Graham Osborne did so in 1984 to begin a 37-game career with the club, while in 1924 Fitzroy 104-gamer Charles Chapman played his only two finals in a season in which the top four sides played a round-robin finals series to decide the premiers.