Liam 'Bones' Fleming will become the fourth Deni Rovers player to reach the rare 200-game milestone on Saturday.SHAUN CONNOR July 4, 2014 4:00am
Liam Fleming, one of the Deni Rovers’ most loyal servants, will be celebrated on Saturday when he runs out for his 200th senior game for the Roos.
The 32-year-old becomes just the fourth Rovers player - behind Craig McCulloch, Noel Buckley and Benji Hardman - to reach the rare milestone.
Having played his first senior game as a 17-year-old in 1999, the feat has been a long time coming for the man they call ‘Bones’.
‘‘If you stick around long enough you’re bound to get there (200 games), but I guess it has snuck up a little bit,’’ Fleming said.
‘‘I haven’t played much senior footy over the past few years, but I’ve snuck a few in this season.’’
Fleming has played under six senior coaches at the Rovers - Steve Charles, Brett Henderson, Gerard Robinson, Jeff Fehring, Josh Bode and Luke Moodie - and has experienced many ups and downs.
Following the departure of more than 30 of last year’s players, the Rovers are winless from 11 starts in 2014, but Fleming believes it won’t be long until things are back to normal.
‘‘The advantages of having a year like this is that you get games into young blokes, which bodes well down the track,’’ the strong-marking forward said.
‘‘With those players getting exposed to senior footy all it takes is a few recruits and then all of a sudden things turns around pretty quickly.’’
Fleming has experienced considerable success during his career, from being a leading goalkicker and a best and fairest in the fourths to being a runner-up best and fairest in the thirds and seniors.
While attending Charles Sturt University in Wagga, he played two seasons for the Bushpigs and was an integral part of the side’s 2001 premiership.
Starting on the wing, he kicked five goals and was christened with the nickname ‘The Gazelle’.
Fleming returned to Memorial Park in 2003 and tasted premiership success with the Roos’ reserves in 2011 and again in 2013, when he took out best-on-ground honours.
Those glory days in the reserves were led by playing-coach Stewart ‘Wally’ Bulmer, who handed down the coaching reins to Fleming this season.
‘‘This year we don’t have the pulses of numbers that Wally had, with 13 or 14 players on the bench, or the success that comes with that,’’ Fleming said.
‘‘But it has still been fun and I’m enjoying it a lot.’’
Even though he has lived in Moama since 2005, it’s a rare occurrence if Bones isn’t at training or a social function.
His loyalty to the Rovers, the club he has shared two decades of his life with, is unquestionable.
‘‘The flag in Wagga was probably the highlight of my career, but I’ve just loved being part of the Rovers in general,’’ Fleming said.
‘‘I’ll absolutely stay involved with the club after I retire. They’re stuck with me for life.’’
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