Author(s): Jim Main
When James Stewart shed his substitute's vest and ran onto the ground for Greater Western Sydney in the Round 23, 2013 game against Gold Coast he would have felt the same sense of enthusiasm and uncertainty as the long list of footballers who have gone before him. Young James became the 12232nd man to appear in League football since the competition began way back in May 1897. As the last debutante for 2013 he faced a vastly different scenario in so many ways to those pioneers of 1897. The warriors who slogged it out on four suburban Melbourne ovals would never have dreamed that this would grow into Australia's biggest national sporting competition with 18 teams spanning the continent. For James Stewart and all those before him, those thoughts were non-existent. The age-old dilemma of how to get his hands on the ball and get a kick was first and foremost. James Stewart is one of 1092 footballers who have just the one game next to their names. He and 14 others are currently listed AFL players who enter the 2014 campaign in the quest for a second match. Surprisingly 20 per cent of all players will have careers that don't extend beyond three games. The turnover is such that since the last edition of this book a total of 311 players have debuted in the AFL. Footy is an ever-evolving game, and so too is this Encyclopedia as new facts constantly emerge about players old and new. Young James Stewart can check out his contemporaries, or look back to the days his father Craig spent with Collingwood and Richmond. But he can do so knowing that he is a League footballer and as such is the envy of every one of us who has battled for a kick on a suburban or country oval throughout this land.