ACCOLADES CONTINUE TO RACK UP FOR CENTURION NELSON
SHANE Nelson is 23 years of age. Let that sink in for a minute before considering that this Good Friday he will play his 100th game for West Perth after what must be considered among the best first century in the history of the Falcons.
The prolific ball-winning midfielder, who is every bit as courageous as he is talented in racking up possessions, has had a stunning first 99 games with West Perth as he approaches his 100-match milestone on Good Friday against Peel Thunder at Bendigo Bank Stadium.
If you don't believe that Nelson is a remarkable ball winner, in his 96 WAFL matches for West Perth he is averaging an almost impossible to believe 29.2 possessions a game.
That over nearly 100 games needs to be acknowledged.
His other three appearances for West Perth came in the Foxtel Cup where he averaged almost 19 touches despite the shortened format.
It's not just the amount of ball that Nelson wins that makes him a remarkable player though, his accolades make him a great of West Perth already even at only 23.
Nelson is a premiership player from 2013 and his efforts in the grand final win over East Perth with 36 disposals and a goal put him right in the running for the Simpson Medal.
On top of that, Nelson is a dual Breckler Medal winner as West Perth's fairest and best in both the premiership year of 2013 sharing it with Andrew Strijk and winning it outright the next year when he also finished runner-up in the Sandover Medal to great mate Aaron Black.
Nelson has also played state football representing the WAFL on two occasions.
A premiership, two fairest and best awards, two times representing WA and averaging almost 30 possessions over the course of what will become a 100-game career on Friday in Mandurah is remarkable.
Nelson is understandably proud of what he has achieved since making his debut in Round 7, 2012 but nothing will top the premiership.
"I've been lucky enough to achieve what I've achieved in the time that I've been around. The thing that sticks out the most is that premiership," Nelson said.
"I have achieved some individual success as well, but having achieved that team success it's definitely the best thing that's happened over the 100 games.
"I definitely feel lucky to have achieved that knowing that a lot of guys never get to or someone like Rory O'Brien had to wait until near the end of his career to finally get that premiership.
"I'm now starting to realise just how hard it is to win one having won one so early in my career. Now it's starting to sink in that it doesn’t always come around so easily or quickly. That makes you appreciate it even more."
Growing up, Nelson always wanted to play with West Perth so to get that chance in the first place was always a big honour.
To now have reached 100 games to book his name on the No. 14 locker is something he is extra proud of.
"It's obviously an honour and a privilege to represent the West Perth footy club at all, let alone for 100 games," he said.
"It is something that I wanted to achieve when I was younger and watching the Falcons as I was growing up, and to get my name on the locker and be put up there with a lot of the other great names at the club is a massive honour."
Nelson might have preferred for his milestone game to a bit closer to home than Mandurah, but that's out of his control.
He is looking forward to the chance to not only celebrate, but hopefully to take part in a win to help West Perth bounce back from a heavy defeat to South Fremantle on Saturday.
"It would have been better to play it at home and getting down to Mandurah is probably not the greatest thing for your 100th game with the long road trip, but it really doesn’t matter," Nelson said.
"It's just another game we need to focus on and we hope to go down there to play well as a team and I will aim to do my part in helping us get over the line and put in a good performance.
"Not much will change this week for me. It's just another game really and one that we hope to use to rectify last week's dismal performance.
"Hopefully it gives the boys a bit more of an incentive to get up for the game and try to get the win whether it's a milestone for me or not. My family will be down there so that will be good but they come to every game anyway so I don’t think there will be too much different about it."
As for his natural ball-winning ability that has made him a dominant force in-tight and at stoppages in the WAFL since 2012, Nelson has no explanation for it.
Sometimes it's luck according him, but somehow the ball just keeps finding him.
"I think I've always had that natural ball-winning ability, that's never been really a problem for me going through the juniors and moving into seniors," he said.
"People ask me a fair bit about how I find the footy so much, but I just don’t know if I do anything different to anyone else. The ball just seems to bounce my way at times when it shouldn’t and I get a fair bit of it. I just put it down to a bit of luck as well which always helps."
Nelson did have a couple of injury problems in 2016, one self-inflicted early in the season after an off-field incident and then another on the field when he copped a heavy and high hit against Subiaco.
But aside from that, his body has been sound throughout his career and he's looking forward to a few more pain-free years yet.
"My body is feeling great and I'm still reasonably young so I'm not expecting it to get too tough for a while yet. My body's certainly not like someone like Andrew Strijk's who complains about how sore he is every week," he said.
"Last year I had a couple of injuries for the first time really. That did set me back a little bit, but to get on the park and for Bill to show faith in me when I was only really young and to be able to develop at league level was great for me. Hopefully I've still got plenty more games ahead as well.
"I'm not looking forward to heading down to that older path and seeing how my body is then, but right now I'm feeling good. I do cop a bit of attention at times off the ball so that can take its toll but apart from that as long as I stay away from the nightclubs and that sort of thing I should be in for a longer career."
Another thing that Nelson has been waiting for the chance to accomplish and that the start to this season has provided is to play alongside younger brother Scott.
Scott has settled into a role as a small defender early in 2017 and Shane is proud to be about to celebrate his milestone alongside him on Friday, and he has no doubt their late father will be looking on full of pride as well.
"He has been a massive part of my life obviously and I'm sure I have been for his too so to play my 100th game with him in the team will be a special moment that I'll remember for the rest of my life. I'm looking forward to it and hopefully Bill gives him at least one more game," Nelson said.
"We only played a little footy together when we were growing up. There's a fair bit of an age gap between us so when we used to play on the front lawn at the front of the old house it used to end up pretty competitive and generally he ended up crying.
"The tables have turned now that we're a bit older and he has put on a bit of size over the summer and everyone gives me a bit of flak because he's bigger than me now.
"He is growing into his body now and getting more confident in what he's doing. I'm proud of him and what's he achieved. I'm sure my old man is as well. I'm sure he is looking down on him which is great for us and the whole family."