Defensive dynamo Michael Johnson to play 200th

Michael Johnson to become the ninth Docker to play 200 games
Michael Johnson to become the ninth Docker to play 200 games

FREMANTLE defender Michael Johnson says reaching 200 games for the club he supported as a kid will be something special, but has described off-field issues in 2010 as a dent in his career.

Johnson will become just the ninth Docker to reach the milestone when he lines up in tonight�s clash with Richmond, joining the likes of Shane Parker, Shaun McManus and current skipper Mathew Pavlich.

�Two hundred games is a lot of football in the AFL so it�s going to be a big night not only for myself but for my friends and family and to run out through the banner with my kids,� he said.

�There have been a few hiccups along the way � injury, off-field and a few other things, and form as well � but that�s part of the AFL system these days and you do have some bumps along the way.

�Fremantle is the team that I supported as a youngster and to be named along with those other players that have played over 200 games will be something special.�

The defender recruited from Perth Football Club in the 2004 pre-season draft, going on to debut in Round 4 of the 2005 season against the Tigers.

He has become a mainstay of the Fremantle defence, but also proved handy at times up forward.

But his career was at the crossroads in 2010 after being caught by police in possession of cocaine.

�It was a massive dent in my career,� he said.

�It did set me back a bit but I believe it made me a better person, a better father and a better footy player.

�It did take me a while to earn the trust back from the players and the staff but I knew it was going to be a long road but all I could do was put my head down and work hard for the club and I think I�ve done that.�

Since his return he has barely put a foot wrong.

In 2013, he was one of the Dockers best players in the grand final loss to Hawthorn and was named in the all-Australian side in the back-pocket.

He is one of the premier defenders in the competition thanks to his ability to read the play and zone off opponents to win the ball back for his side.

The Dockers will need all of his class at Domain stadium when they tackle the Tigers, a side on a three-win run.

�Richmond had a really good win on the weekend against a quality team, Essendon, so we know they�ll come over and give it a fair crack,� Johnson said.

�We�ve got to make sure we stick to our own game plan and keep chipping away the way we have been playing this year.�

If the Dockers triumph, they will extend their run to a club record 10 straight wins.

Johnson was in the side that won nine straight to finish the 2006 home and away season and said the Dockers were every chance to eclipse the record.

�We�ve got a real good balance along each zone on the field � forwards, mids, backs � and what makes us strong is players playing WAFL that are consistent performers down there so it�s making us play a lot better and perform,� he said

�As a whole group and as a team we�re a lot stronger and more experienced I think.�

The Dockers will tackle the Tigers at Domain Stadium from 6.10pm.