By Pat Kerin While the Cootamundra Blues will not play finals this season, three of their senior footballers will celebrate milestones this Saturday as the Blues host Eastlake.

Joel Pearson and good mate Mick Knagge reached the major milestone of 200 matches in the last two weeks; Sandy Maskell Knight will play his 100th match on Saturday.

Joel was one of the Blues best two weeks ago when the Blues were beaten by Belconnen by a goal.

The boys chaired Joel off the ground, but he was shattered that they lost another close match. Joel Pearson debuted as a 16 year old in 2008.

While he only played one match in his first year, he has been a big part of the Blues line up for the past 14 seasons. Joel’s best season was in 2010, while Blues finished out the finals in fifth spot, Joel came third in the best and fairest.

A highlight for Joel in 2013 was being named at full back in the Blues team of the decade [2004-2013]. In 2014, Joel was a very proud a member of Blues premiership side that defeated Yass in the grand final.

In a team chock full of talent, Joel was well pleased to finish fifth in the Blues best and fairest. Two players that finished ahead of Joel were league best & fairest Luke Webb in 2014 and Dylan McDermott in 2013.

Another highlight for Joel was in 2015 when he was named best on ground playing for AFL Canberra Division four and Regional Grade against the Sapphire Coast with the AFL Canberra running out big winners by 53 pts.

Joel revels in playing down back.

A strong mark and ability to break through tackles and with his long raking kicks, he is able to quickly drive the Blue’s into attack.

In recent seasons, Joel has played up forward, booting his fair share of goals, while this season, he shown his versatility by playing in the ruck.

Joel Pearson is a dedicated footballer for the Blues and for most of his career, has juggled shift work on the railway with Pacific National as an engine driver and on more than a few occasions has come straight from work to play footy.

Mick Knagge celebrated his 200th match last Saturday at Stirling where the Blues were soundly beaten by Batesman’s Bay.

Coming from humble beginnings, as a Cootamundra Auskicker on Sunday mornings Michael debuted for the Blues in 2007.

Michael is now in his 15th season with the club.

Most of Michael’s early days, he was an on baller, the latter part of his career, he has been as a halfback flanker. In 2013, the champion on baller Michael Knagge played his 100th match for the Blues, in doing so he joined his father Rod who would have played his 100th match in the mid 1980’s.

An obviously highlight for any footballer is playing in a premiership side.

Michael loved being a part of the Blues premiership side in 2014 that thrashed Yass in the grand final. In 2017, Michael had a change of scenery playing a season in the Riverina Football League with Ganmain Grong Grong Matong.

Soon after arriving back to Clarke Oval in 2018, Michael played his 150th match, for the Blues. By playing his 200th match, Michael joins only 18 other players who have donned the Navy Blue to achieve this rare milestone.

Joel beat Mick to the 200 club by a week.

Michael becomes only the second Blues footballer to play 200 matches for the club, all from playing in the AFL Canberra competition.

The Blues have been playing in AFL Canberra since 2004; so this is our 19th season of playing football in the nation’s capital competition.

Six time Blues best & fairest Stephen Chant played 198 matches, all in AFL Canberra. However, just as important Michael joins a very elite group of footballers as father and sons who have played 200 matches for the club.

With last Saturday’s match against Bateman’s Bay, only two father and sons have achieved this honour.

Ron and Brent Milthorpe were the first to achieve this milestone. Ron played 207 matches for the Blues. This included being captain/coach of the Blues guiding them to their inaugural first grade flags in 1973 and 1974.

Later as a player he played in the Blues premiership sides in 1977 and 1980. Coming out of retirement, he was member of 1985 reserve grade flag. Brent played 257 matches for the Blues. He coached the club in 2002 and was the 1998 first grade Best & Fairest winner.

Brent was a member of the Blue’s premiership side of 1992. Michael’s father Rod played 221 matches. Highlighted by winning the first grade best & fairest in 1985. He was a member of the Blues first grade premiership sides of 1989 and 1992.

Sandy Maskell-Knight debuted for the Blues in 2013 while he still lived in Cootamundra. In 2014, Sandy was a big part of the Blues Premiership side that trounced Yass in the grand final by 40 pts. For Sandy, 2014 was by far his best season for the Blues.

Apart from playing in the Blues premiership, Sandy as a full forward was the League’s leading goal kicker with 76 goals. In 2015, Sandy moved to Canberra, he played for Belconnen and during that season played ten matches in first grade.

Sandy was a member of the Blues side that was undefeated in 2019, but fell in the decider against Belconnen by eight points.

Two weeks ago against Belconnen, Sandy using his huge frame of 155kgs, booted five of the Blues eight goals. In booting five goals, he has now kicked 252 goals for the club.

Saturday’s match and last match Googong on Saturday week will see Sandy hang up his boots.

Therefore, when Joel, Mick and Sandy run out onto Clarke Oval on Saturday against Eastlake, the trio will have played 503 matches for the Blues.

The 200 gamers after the match against Batemans Bay 16 July 291- Todd Basham 289- David Harris 287- John Walton 271- Rod Bradley 269- Garrie Cooper 257- Brent Milthorpe 254- Greg Rudd 254- Dennis Bradbury 250- John Connell 230- Peter Delaney 221- Rod Knagge 210- Ron Dallas 207- Ron Milthorpe 207- Wayne Be Britt 201- Leon Reid 200- David Crowe 200- Gary McPherson 201- Joel Pearson 200- Mick Knagge.