K rock Football

No end in sight for ‘Desi’

Derek Fitzsimmons will play game 250 for North Geelong in Saturday’s clash with Geelong West. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

AGELESS North Geelong great Derek Fitzsimmons has stopped short of putting a timeframe on when his glittering career will come to an end ahead of his 250th match for the Magpies.

The match also doubles as his 300th in GDFL competition following 50 games for Anakie before arriving at Keith Barclay Oval in 2006

Fitzsimmons, who turned 38 in May, is enjoying a renaissance as a small forward in North Geelong’s senior team after spending 2018 in the reserves.

“I don’t really see an end in sight,” the seven-time Magpie best-and-fairest said. “I’m enjoying training; I’m enjoying playing; I’m still getting a kick, which is always handy.

“I was a little bit worried after Round 1 because I really didn’t get near it. I thought maybe it has gone past me.

“But, I’m starting to get a few kicks, a few touches, becoming involved and not just being a passenger.

“I’m really enjoying myself.”

GDFL: CONCUSSION CONCERNS FOR MAGPIES COACH

Most thought they had seen the end of ‘Desi’ at GDFL senior level when he chose to spend 2018 in the Magpies’ reserves.

However, even at age 37, he proved to be a class above as he claimed a share of the Tansing Medal as reserve grade best-and-fairest and kicked 49 goals to help North Geelong reached the seconds’ grand final.

It was the form that convinced new coach Ayden George to ask Fitzsimmons about making a return to playing at 2 o’clock.

“I thought those days were over,” Fitzsimmons said. “I gave myself a pretty big break – I started training late.

“I got asked if I wanted to go away and think about it, and in the end, I just left the decision up to the coach.

“I’ll play where I get picked.”

Fitzsimmons admits his motivation to prepare to play at senior level had started to wane heading into 2018.

He says the arrival of George has been rejuvenating for the club.

“Ayden brings a new voice, new ideas, new gameplan, new structure and new things to learn, even as a 38-year-old,” Fitzsimmons said.

“You’re always doing something different.

“It’s really good.”

After five consecutive finals appearances between 2013-17, including the 2013 premiership, North Geelong dropped to eighth with just six wins last year.

They’ve started 2019 with four victories. However, they face arguably their biggest test on Saturday when they cross Melbourne Road for a meeting with Geelong West.

A win for the Magpies will keep them in touch with the top three, while a loss would see them drop out of the five.

“It’s probably worth double points,” Fitzsimmons said. “We know it’s going to be a really hard game, and we know they’re a very good side.

“They made the second week of the finals last year, so they’ve proven how good they are.

“They’ve had a pretty tough start to the year with who they’ve had to play.

“It’s a good test for us to see where we’re at, to make sure we are around the mark and see what we need to improve and what we have improved.

“It should be a good test for both sides.”

Twitter: @tom_king79

Email: [email protected]

DEREK FITZSIMMONS – A CAREER

Games: 299 – North Geelong: 249 (228 senior/21 reserves), Anakie: 50

North Geelong premiership player 2013

North Geelong captain

Seven-time North Geelong senior best-and-fairest

One-time North Geelong reserves best-and-fairest

Two-time Anakie senior best-and-fairest

Five-time GDFL representative

GDFL Life Member (to be conferred in October)