Dustin Fletcher’s 400th AFL match was supposed to be an Essendon celebration, but Richmond spoiled the party and the Bombers’ veteran was subbed out of the match.
The Tigers held sway for most of the night on their way to a 13-point win in front of 83,804 fans and Fletcher was given the red vest early in the final term after he suffered tightness in an adductor muscle.
“It was a bit disappointing but that’s the way it goes,” Fletcher told Channel Seven.
“The Tigers were too good.”
He said that the build up to his milestone game had been amazing, but admitted it may have worked against him on the night.
“It made me a little bit more anxious I suppose, it drained me a little bit,” he said.
“It’s a good achievement but obviously I’m disappointed we couldn’t come out with the win.”
Alternating on young Tiger talls Ben Griffiths and Liam McBean, he finished with 10 disposals and two marks, with Damien Hardwick admitting he had instructed his forwards to drag the veteran Bomber away from the play.
He didn’t touch the ball until the 18th minute and his first kick went straight to Griffiths, his second out on the full.
He out-pointed McBean nicely in a one-on-one contest in the second quarter, but had a modest four disposals at the main break.
The Bombers lifted in the third term with Fletcher more prominent, but still playing closer to goal rather than zoning off his opponent before he departed the match.
“It capped off an ordinary night in terms of our performance,” James Hird said of the move.
“We probably weren’t going to sub Fletch, we wanted to leave him on with his 400th game, but when he got that injury we pretty quickly made the decision to bring him off.”
Fletcher was given a guard of honour by both teams, with Jobe Watson and Brent Stanton chairing him from the ground to a huge ovation.