OVER 21 years, Perth Wildcat great Tony Ronaldson played 665 games of NBL basketball, while Fremantle Dockers superstar Matthew Pavlich just signed off on a 353-game, 17 year AFL career.
Big names with big statistics, but they do not come close to the career of the lesser-known Keith Smith, who on Saturday suited up in the black and white of the Fremantle Hockey Club for the 950th time in his 60th year at the club.
Smith first picked up a hockey stick at age seven, playing with and against kids twice his age in the club’s Under-16s team because it was the youngest age group at the time.
“My older brother had a season of footy and didn’t enjoy it,” he said.
“Club founding member Jack Lee was a family friend and suggested he tried hockey, we both went along, liked it and the rest is history.”
Smith’s career has had plenty of highlights, including state junior and Under-21 representation, winning the Porter Lee Trophy for junior contribution in 1965, the Hudson Memorial Trophy for services to the club in 1973, and becoming a life member in 1980, but he said it was the lifelong friendships that kept him coming back to play year after year.
Running on the field for the 950th time on Saturday was a big occasion not just for him, but for his whole Over 50s team, who took on the Old Guildfordians Mundaring Hockey Club in a massive semi final showdown.
“I’m very lucky that the game has developed as an older person’s game with invention of Masters hockey,” he said.
“When I was young most players would play to 35 and that would be it, now we’ve guys playing in to their late 70s.
“I would obviously love to hit the 1000 mark, which would take another four seasons, but we’ll wait and see how the body goes.”