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Melbourne Football Club

Garland pays tribute to 200-gamer Jones

Colin Garland (L) and Nathan Jones of the Demons celebrate the win of the Demons during the 2015 AFL Round 04 match between the Richmond Tigers and the Melbourne Demons at the MCG, Melbourne on April 24, 2015. (Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images via AFL Media)
Colin Garland (L) and Nathan Jones of the Demons celebrate the win of the Demons during the 2015 AFL Round 04 match between the Richmond Tigers and the Melbourne Demons at the MCG, Melbourne on April 24, 2015. (Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images via AFL Media)
All that's left now is to get success, and he will get it, because that's Nathan Jones
Colin Garland

THIS week Nathan Jones becomes just the 25th player to play 200 games for the Melbourne Football Club. 

Being only the 25th player to get to 200 games for a club that is 157 years old is a great achievement, but the manner in how he's played the 199 so far is even more impressive.

My first memories of ‘Chunk’, ‘Nath’ or ‘Jonesy’ – whatever you want to call him (although a few other names aren't printable) – were of a bloke who was brash and headstrong with an incredible will to become not just good, but great.

I think it's fair to say that in Dean Bailey’s first couple of years as coach, Jonesy was up-and-down, even finding himself out of the team at one stage.

I know Jonesy was frustrated at this time, especially after finishing second in the best and fairest in just his second season.

It's hard to think about this time now; it just seems ridiculous to think that there would even be question marks over someone like Nathan Jones.

I believe though, these years really helped shape Nath as not only a player, but a person as well.

I remember Dean telling him once that he would drop him if didn't go and see the physios every now and then.

In these years, in my opinion, he also worked out what type of footballer he wanted to be: an inside mid. He was at a good AFL level at the end of 2011, when we got a new coach, but he went to a new level over that summer.

He came back different. I'm not sure exactly what it was, but you could see it in things he did around the place.

From memory, he formulated a plan: extra boxing, a focus on leg strength and worked on his football deficiencies (he went from a bomb-it-long all the time kick to our best kick).

He just simply exploded as a player.

Unfortunately this coincided with a terrible time in the history of our club, which has tarnished his perception by the outside football community to a degree.

He's still very much respected by the AFL industry – you just have to see how much he is tagged, but I still don't believe people realise how good he has been on a consistent basis.

He stood up when the club needed someone too and he became the figurehead of hope for our players and supporters.

How often have you heard or read "oh, but they have Nathan Jones" or "geez that Nathan Jones goes hard".

As a fellow player over this period, it’s not easy to admit that. I wish it wasn't the case, but it has been a reality.

Jonesy has typified what we want to be as a club – and what our supporters want to see.

I said once in a Martin Flanagan article that Nath was quite spiritual. What I meant was that he was the Melbourne Football Club spirit. He has been the beating heart of our club and has been the sign that the club can't be all that bad.

Jonesy keeps getting better and better as captain. He isn’t and hasn't been perfect – he knows that – but he has on occasion struggled being so self-driven.

He has to remind himself of how other people are going and how he can positively impact others. There has been no better example than how he has taken Angus Brayshaw under his wing since he came to the club.

Nath now realises that if we are going to get better he has to make people around him better as well – not just himself.

Chrisitan Petracca, Brayshaw, James Harmes and Alex Neal-Bullen – just to name a few – are players that Nath has already had a big impact on their careers.

Speaking of making an impact on others, seeing how he has taken to fatherhood has been amazing. Jonesy is such a great dad, a great husband and family man.

All that's left now is to get success, and he will get it, because that's Nathan Jones.