COBDEN export Zach Merrett still can’t believe he is about to join a special club at Essendon this weekend.
The Bombers midfielder will become the 31st player to play 200 games for the Bombers, with his milestone game to come against reigning premiers Geelong at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday night.
It’s another achievement in Merrett’s career to date, which started with the AFL Auskick program and junior football at Cobden.
He then went on play in the APS for Melbourne Grammar, with breaks in the private school schedule allowing him to return to Cobden to make his senior debut for the Bombers at 16.
The following two years he played TAC Cup football for Sandringham Dragons and represented Vic Country, with those matches putting him in the sights of recruiting managers.
Ultimately in 2013 he was drafted to Essendon, where he joined older brother Jackson who had been picked by the same club only two years earlier.
Fast forward 10 years and 199 games later, and the Bombers will celebrate one of their most loyal players, with Merrett shunning free agency in 2021 to sign a six year deal to commit to being a one club player.
His chance to play 200 games at the one club is a feat he doesn’t take lightly, adding it was a special moment for him along with his family and friends.
“It hasn’t quite sunk in to be honest,” Merrett said.
“I did a bit of research into it and there’s only been 30 guys that have played 200 games for the footy club over 151 years so to be alongside those guys probably doesn’t feel right, but is extremely humbling.
“It’s an extremely exciting and proud moment, not only for me, but for my team-mates, past coaches, family and friends that have been a part of the journey.”
Since debuting in 2014, Merrett has enjoyed a sharp rise to becoming one of his club’s and competition’s premier midfielders.
A student of the game, his hunger to improve and develop has seen him rewarded with three Chrichton Medals and earn All-Australian selection on two occasions to date, while this year he was appointed captain of the Bombers at age 27.
It’s a role he is relishing, knowing all too well the extra responsibility the position carries, with the Bombers thriving under Merrett’s captaincy and the coaching of new mentor Brad Scott.
“To be captain of this football club means everything to me personally but also to my family and friends, they all see the time and energy and work I’ve put in behind the scenes to get into this position,” Merrett said.
“To be able to run out first, not just this week but every week, is super special to me and I still get butterflies and have to pinch myself doing the coin toss each week.”
Saturday night’s clash will be broadcast live on Channel 7 from 7.25pm (AEST).