Tocumwal Football Club veteran Scott Baldwin (pictured) will break the club record for the most senior matches when he takes to the field for his 386th game for the Bloods on Saturday.
Baldwin will surpass club legend Robert Crow’s 385 senior games when the siren sounds for round eight of the Picola League at Memorial Park in Deniliquin.
Even more impressive is that the 39 year-old has never been dropped from the senior side since he made his debut in 1995.
He played four reserves matches, two when filling in from the thirds in 1994 and two more at the start of 1995, before his promotion to the seniors early in the 1995 season at 16 years old.
Baldwin inherited his father’s (Ken) number 30 guernsey, with the pair having worn it for a combined total of 707 senior matches, with Ken having played 322 senior games for Tocumwal.
‘‘In my last reserves match I was cleaned up by my teammate Alan Trotman,’’ Baldwin said.
‘‘Trotty was a pretty tough footballer and he lined up an opponent who stepped out of the way.
‘‘I didn’t see it coming but it knocked me to the seniors so that worked out well.’’
The key defender is one of only two footballers to have played in two premierships for the Bloods, the other being Ken Chelew.
He played in the fourths 1991 premiership side, where he played on the wing and was named as one of the best players, before being a part of the 2009 Murray Football League premiership side 18 years later.
‘‘The fourths premiership coach John Jones had a big influence on my development,’’ he said.
‘‘I played through all of my thirds and then when I hit seniors we were struggling on the field.
‘‘We probably had five wins in my first 100 games in the seniors.’’
When the Bloods improved under the coaching of Darren Atkinson, Baldwin had established himself as a key player across halfback and was an integral part of the backline as Tocumwal reached the 2003 Grand Final.
The Bloods went down to the undefeated Deniliquin Rams but despite the disappointment of the loss, Baldwin still said it was an exciting time.
‘‘I still look back at the losing grand finals as highlights,’’ he said.
‘‘The 2005 season playing under Leon Higgins was one of the most exciting seasons I’ve been involved with.
‘‘We would’ve started the season with one win and eight losses and then we just kept on winning our way to a grand final.
‘‘We might’ve lost against Nathalia but the fact that we even made it was incredible. It was a bloody good ride.’’
The undoubted career highlight for the club veteran was the 2009 Murray League premiership victory in a nailbiting six point victory over Moama under the coaching of Stuart Roe.
Baldwin still remembers that day like it was yesterday.
‘‘Moama were coming at us late and I thought they were going to run over the top of us,’’ he said.
‘‘When the siren sounded it was a massive feeling of relief.
‘‘I’m still close to most of my premiership teammates like Anthony Mellington, Michael Hare and Lucas White.
‘‘But it’s even better that I can still play with some of the blokes that were a part of the side like David Farrell and Jeremy Cardillo.
‘‘We all play down in defence so we have a pretty tight bond with each other.’’
Baldwin has played in 252 senior games with Farrell and 223 with Cardillo, all in the seniors.
It was his mates he made at the club that caused him to play his whole career in Tocumwal.
He admitted having some tempting offers to go elsewhere but he just could not leave.
‘‘I’ve become great mates with nearly everyone I’ve played footy with,’’ he said.
‘‘My dad played 400 games for the club too so it wouldn’t feel right to play anywhere else.
‘‘If I were to guess, I’ve missed about 12 matches in my career.
‘‘I had two knee arthroscopes for a torn meniscus but I didn’t let that stop me.’’
Baldwin’s first arthroscope came in 2006 for his left knee, missing only two matches.
The second arthroscope came last year for his right knee, where he missed six matches.
Being a defender, Baldwin has never won a best and fairest, with his best finish being the runner-up in 2008 to Lee Warnett in the year Warnett won the O’Dwyer Medal.
While he isn’t sure when he will retire, the veteran said he knows it’s getting closer.
‘‘The body is slowly letting me know about it,’’ he said.
‘‘I think if we can get our best team on the ground then we’ll be good enough to beat any side in the Picola league.
‘‘Sean Logie is up there with the best players I’ve played with and if we can sneak into the finals we are in with a real chance to steal a flag.
‘‘Other than my mum and dad, my biggest supporters are my wife Kelly and my daughters Ella, Ruby and Lilly.
‘‘Without Kelly’s support I wouldn’t be anywhere near achieving this milestone so I’d like to thank her for that.’’