LIKE a fine wine, good old Brent "Boomer" Harvey seems to be getting better with age.
Well, there probably could be a more apt description than fine wine for a guy who grew up around Preston, in Melbourne's northern suburbs. He's more like a full-strength beer - in a stubby, of course.
At 172cm but built like an absolute tank, Boomer is the consummate pocket dynamo.
And despite being 34, and the third-oldest player in the AFL, Boomer shows no signs of slowing down.
Few would train harder than the former skipper - the last remaining member of North Melbourne's 1999 premiership team still running around.
And, boy, is he still running.
Boomer was the driving force behind the Kangaroos' crucial win over Essendon last Sunday night, a result that lifted the side to sixth on the ladder.
As the Bombers threatened in the third term, he kicked three goals in three minutes, again proving his status as one of the ultimate burst players.
There were calls for him to be eased into retirement early in the season - but before he gets that tap on the shoulder, they've got to catch him first.
Highlighting his desire to keep taking the game on, Boomer is fifth on the season's list of "most bounces", with 44, just behind much younger men such as Carlton's Chris Yarran and Port Adelaide's Danyle Pearce.
Glenn Archer, Boomer's predecessor as the games record-holder at North, reckons his old teammate can go for another three seasons after this one and become just the third player to reach 400 games.
Boomer is some chance. He has played 342 games since debuting as an 18-year-old in 1996 and sits 13th on the all-time games list, with Doug Hawkins (350), Bruce Doull (356), Paul Roos (359) and John Blakey (359) in his sights.
While he is still an integral member of the Roos' midfield rotation, he could easily slot into more of a permanent forward-pocket role in his twilight. He's certainly dangerous around the big sticks, booting 404 goals throughout the journey.
Boomer - a winner of five best-and-fairest awards - is enjoying as good a year as any of his 17, averaging 23.1 disposals and booting 29 goals, which is comparable to his stats of 2007 - the year of his runner-up finish in the Brownlow Medal. In that season he averaged 23.8 touches and slotted 36 goals.
North's rise to prominence in the past two months has been matched by Essendon's demise.
The Roos have won their past five and eight of their past nine. The Bombers have lost four of their past five and seven of their past 10. After round 10 the Roos sat 12th on four wins and six losses, the Bombers second on eight and two.
Of course, the Kangaroos' momentum may be about to come to a halt when they play Collingwood tomorrow night.
The Roos' form since being smashed by 115 points by Hawthorn in round 10 has been incredible - with scalps including Adelaide, St Kilda, Carlton, Richmond and Essendon - but the Pies will present a real gauge of just how far they have come.
Giant gets big number
A CLASH between 18th and 16th doesn't do a lot to excite, but there will be some interest when GWS hosts Melbourne in the nation's capital tomorrow.
For one, Giants co-captain Luke Power will become the 66th player to notch 300 games. One of the real "top blokes" of the AFL, Power played 282 games for the Lions.
James McDonald, who came out of retirement this year to become a player-assistant coach with the Giants, looks set to hang up the boots again. He will play his final game, suitably against the club with which he played 251 games.
Pavlich to take record
FREMANTLE skipper Matthew Pavlich will equal Glen Jakovich's record for most games by a West Australian-based player when he plays his 276th match tomorrow.
The 30-year-old, drafted as a forward before spending time in defence and then the midfield, looks set to claim his first Coleman Medal in his 13th season.
He has 57 majors for the year, just ahead of Tiger Jack Riewoldt (54), Roo Drew Petrie (52) and Hawk Lance Franklin (51).
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