A SELF-confessed “late bloomer” etched his name in the Singleton Roosters history books at Rose Point Park on Saturday.
Paul Tapper chalked up game number 200 against Black Diamond AFL rivals Newcastle City – and said it was a proud moment for him.
“I was a bit emotional when I ran onto the field,” he admitted.
“It’s terrific to be a part of the Roosters; they’re a great bunch of guys.”
But, his amazing feat almost didn’t eventuate.
“I played rugby league up until the age of 22,” Tapper explained.
“Then, one day, I thought I’d watch a local game of AFL.
“Ironically, Micky Dawe – who also has 200 matches to his name – kept harping on to my dad about me playing for the Roosters.
“I played half a season and, in my first full year, took out the club’s best and fairest award in 1989.
“I ended up playing plenty of footy with Micky, so this achievement means a lot to me.
“Now, I play alongside my son Jordan, while my daughter Kaylah (Jeffriess-Tapper) is a member of the women’s side, the Roosterettes.
“So, it’s a real family day [out] for us.”
After 100 appearances in reserves and as many matches in the top grade, Tapper still has one goal to fulfil – securing a flag with Singleton.
“I’d love to win one,” he said.
“We went close in 1995.
“I think we were a bit unlucky that day.
“A couple of guys from that team are still running around.
“But, I just love it.
“Plus, the Roosters are in great shape [after a few lean years].”
First grade coach Stephan Nester said Tapper was an important member of the club.
“Paul bleeds for the Roosters,” he admitted.
“And, he always puts everything on the line.
“Two-hundred games is a huge achievement – he’s only the second player in the club to do so [after Dawe].
“Paul lives in Tamworth [these days], so it’s a big effort by him to drive [down] every weekend to take the field for the ‘red and whites’.
“What makes the milestone even more rewarding is the fact he’s a top bloke, too.”
Meanwhile, the Roosters are preparing to welcome an AFL icon to town.
Kevin Sheedy will conduct a clinic at Rose Point Park on Saturday, July 8, from 3pm and then attend a Sportsman’s Dinner later that evening.
In just over a quarter of a century, the legendary mentor has achieved everything the game has to offer – overseeing four premierships and being selected as an All Australian coach on three occasions.
Tickets for the function, at the Singleton Civic Centre, are $85 (adults) and $50 (children under 12); and available through https://www.stickytickets.com.au/51622