Swans legend Tallan Ames reaches 250-game markThursday, April 13, 2017 - 2:18 AM - by Chris Pike

TALLAN Ames' place in history as a great of Swan Districts reaches another highlight with the remarkably loyal, dedicated and passionate servant to become just the fifth player at the club to play 250 games.

Ames already will go down as a great of the black-and-whites and that is something that means the world to him considering he grew up dreaming of playing for the club and has always lived in close proximity to Bassendean's Steel Blue Oval.

His official 250th game for Swan Districts will take place this Saturday against East Fremantle at East Fremantle Oval with his team aiming to keep their unbeaten start to 2017 going up against the winless Sharks.

By playing his 250th game, Ames joins Bill Walker, Stan Nowotny, Travis Edmonds and Keith Narkle as Swan Districts players to reach the milestone.

While Ames will admit to having a tough time on and off the field in 2016 where it did appear at times his career might have been winding down, his form to start 2017 in wins over Perth, South Fremantle and East Perth has been tremendous.

He has proved he is still among the best lockdown defenders in the competition and highlighting that was him being named in the wafl.com.au Team of the Round following the wins over the Demons and Bulldogs.

Ames appears on track to at least finish his career in third spot on Swans' all-time games played list as he chases down Narkle (254) and former teammate Edmonds (262).

If all goes well and he plays on in 2018, then Ames should overtake Nowotny (278) as well and then there would only be the legendary Walker (305) ahead of him.

Ames already is a premiership player, Swan Medal winner, state representative, long-time captain and a life member of Swan Districts. That is everything and more than he ever dreamed of achieving with the club that means the world to him.

Now to reach 250 games is another achievement Ames is proud of and deservedly so.

"The last person that did it at our club was Trav but to be really honest I'm really enjoying playing footy this year and I don’t think it's really going to set in until you finally hang the boots up about what the milestone actually means not only to me but those who have been involved," Ames said.

"To be honest it has crept up on me but I was in a questionable mindset at times last year about kicking on for another season. But I did know that I really wanted to tick that milestone because not many players nowadays in the WAFL are going to get the chance.

"It's a fantastic achievement for myself and I feel very privileged to be able to keep on kicking for the time that I have because we all know that footy careers are only a very short lifespan.

"I must have been doing something right physically or mentally, or a combination of both, to get to where I am now.

"I am going to enjoy playing in a milestone like this whether we are celebrating it this week or next week, or whenever we do it at home. It's just a testament for how I go about my football to be able to play 250 games now."

Ames is fully aware of the history of Swan Districts and his place in it. He is also full of respect for those before him including the last player to reach 250 games, Edmonds.

Ames was there to play in his 250th game back in 2005 and while it's difficult to specifically remember one of 249 matches, he has no doubt such a moment always lifts a team.

"To be blatantly honest I don’t remember the game that many years ago, but I do remember his achievement of reaching 250 games. We held individuals like Trav in very high regard and especially on a special day like that for one of our legends," he said.

"I know guys who haven’t had the opportunity to play 10 games let alone 100 or 250, so even though you shouldn’t play any different than any other week for a milestone game, you definitely do find something extra.

"You just don’t want to lose because you know how much that individual has given to the football club and I 100 per cent would have played that little bit harder for Trav on that day out of due respect for him.

"Obviously him hanging around the football club past his playing days too is great and he is just a legend of a bloke. It's great to play with those guys but then continue to see them afterwards. I would like to aspire to be like that once I finish whether it's next year or in five years' time."

Considering the dearth of players reaching a milestone like 250 games in the modern day WAFL, Ames isn’t surprised that he keeps getting asked how he is still playing after making his debut in 2002.

But for him, it just hasn’t been that hard. He hasn’t known any different, he's always lived close to the Bassendean ground and he can't imagine not playing with Swans.

"I have been asked what has got me to play so many games at Swans and my answer is always an easy one because I just live around the corner from the club so it's not much to go down to training, games and anything else at the club," Ames said.

"I definitely take my hat off to some of the guys who have travelled from other parts of the town like Shaun Hildebrandt, Ben Colreavy and Kyle Hams because it would add a lot of extra time into the commitment required.

"It's going to be fantastic to come back to the club in years to come and say that I was able to stick it out for long enough to get to 250 games and hopefully I'll have some memorabilia that might have my name etched on it.

"It might not mean that much right now, but in years to come when I can point to this or that and say that I was involved in that period and I achieved that in my career, and won a premiership that's when it will really hit home.

"The club does mean a hell of a lot to me and it has been a huge part of my life. They've supported me as well and having that strong support network with partners, family and friends has also enabled me to do what I do."

One person that helps illustrate Ames' passion for the club and football is Percy Johnson remaining involved in a coaching role at Swan Districts.

"The bloke's 84 years old and he still comes down to every training session and still has the most aggressive manner of trying to get the most out of young players," he said.

"He told me that he keeps hanging around footy clubs to keep feeling young and to still enjoy what life has to offer."

While Ames has started 2017 with three tremendous performances with the team recording strong wins after a disastrous 2-18 wooden spoon claiming 2016, last year was one he would like to forget for the way it went on and off the field.

He saw the signs that things could improve quickly in 2017. That's why he decided he didn’t want things to end on that note.

"Last year was extremely tough for me off the field. Not to say that it affected my football or that's why I got injured, but obviously when you've got distractions outside your playing career it can affect you in some ways, which or form," Ames said.

"I've been lucky in my years playing football that I haven’t had any off-field dramas but last year was tough for me and made me understand that playing football gives you that extra release. You can go to the footy club, have a good time and forget about what's happening in your private life.

"I also knew that there was a chance we would have a bit of a recruiting drive so we would be a lot more competitive. That made me think that having my experience down back could help and that I might enjoy the ball not coming down my way quite as much if we were a better team. So I decided I wanted to keep going and so far it's paying off."

Despite how difficult 2016 was, Ames takes the positive out of it that the young players received opportunities that they might otherwise not have and that all led into a pre-season that he has no doubt has set up the way 2017 has begun.

"The good thing about last year even though we weren’t performing well on the park was that we had a really good bunch of boys that we knew we had to develop moving into future seasons," he said.

"Obviously over the last few years we've had a mass exodus with different players going to other clubs or players walking out or retiring, but with that comes some solidarity with players who still remain at the football club.

"Stiff (coach Greg Harding) and our football department have backed those players in and we might not be the most talented group, but we are genuine blokes who want to go out and have a crack. Stiff said that some of what happened might have been because of how he coached or delivered the message, but our pre-season was fantastic.

"It was well-drilled, disciplined and our assistant coaches Steve Malaxos, Steven Armstrong and Johnny Laurito are fantastic along with Percy. We've had more hands on deck to specialise what we had to do on the park and it is working out really well so far."

While Ames' form is tremendous, his body is feeling every bit of the 249 games he has played.

The 33-year-old, however, works at the Australian Institute of Fitness and that combined with the club's staff has ensured that he is able to work the program best suited to make sure he can get up to play each week.

"Sunday mornings are worse than ever so I am feeling my age. I geed myself up for a really big game a couple of weeks ago when I was playing on three-time Bernie Naylor Medallist Saundo. We have a great relationship on and off the field and I set myself up for a big game against him," Ames said.

"Luckily enough the cards fell in our favour but I felt it afterwards. To be honest, my body doesn’t get up anymore until Thursday afternoon so I really have to manage myself throughout the week.

"But working with our strength and conditioning team, and football department it has enabled me to play the best footy that I can week in and week out. It's working to date and hopefully we continue that methodology to ensure every weekend I've got the ability to put my best foot forward."