Hawthorn 300-gamer Sam Mitchell has won four premierships but none fill him with as much pride as the cultural change at the AFL club.
Mitchell will play his 300th match on Sunday, when the triple reigning premiers face Richmond at the MCG.
The 33-year-old is unsure when he will retire and says he’s most proud of the small part he has played in changing the Hawks’ culture under Alastair Clarkson.
Mitchell was drafted in 2001, while Clarkson was appointed coach three years later.
“The whole journey has been ups and downs, ups and downs. We’ve been up for a little while now,” the former skipper said of the ladder leaders.
“When you go back to when Clarko first came, we sort of completely changed the culture of the place.
“It took a long time and a lot of hard work and I guess when I leave, the legacy we’ll leave is an improved culture at the place.
“If my son ends up playing footy I’d be really proud if he came into a culture like what Hawthorn has now … whereas I maybe wouldn’t have been able to say that when I first got here.
“Having an influence on that change .. that’s probably the proudest big picture thing.”
Mitchell is completing an MBA and has an interest in coaching, setting him up well for life after football.
But the midfielder hasn’t given up hope of featuring in a few more flags just yet.
“I won’t say no,” Mitchell said, when asked about the prospect of breaking the 400-game barrier.
“I’ve got no idea. If you had of asked me at 200 if 300 was a possibility I wouldn’t have known. Because so many things can happen.”