Rory Sloane knows that he owes Scott Thompson an apology in the week of game 300.
Thompson, who will bring up the milestone when he runs out for Adelaide against Collingwood on Saturday night, is one of only two footballers to have racked up more than 50 disposals in match during the AFL era. Gary Ablett had 53 against the Pies in 2012, surpassing the 51 Thompson had piled on against Gold Coast the previous year.
“Yeah, but the thing is it was actually my fault,’’ Sloane chuckled. “I left Thommo stuck on the bench for about eight minutes while the ball was over on the other side of the ground. He reminds me that he could have had a few more if it wasn’t for me. So sorry Scotty.’’
Sloane, who is one of this year’s Brownlow favourites, knows he owes a lot more to Thompson than a light-hearted apology.
“THOMMO’S GOT SO MUCH FOOTBALL KNOWLEDGE … AND HE UNDERSTANDS THE GAME BETTER THAN ANYONE. HE’LL MAKE AN UNBELIEVABLE COACH ONE DAY.” – RORY SLOANE
“It’s just great to play alongside him,” Sloane said. “I mean Scott Camporeale is our midfield coach, but Thommo has been his right-hand man in the way he’s helped developed the younger midfielders along the journey.
“For a fair few years now it’s been Scotty Thompson and then a range of younger midfielders who have been five or six years younger than him. His voice and direction on the ground is unbelievable and that’s why, over recent years, some of our younger guys have come along really quickly.
“He’s been a mentor to all of our guys who played in the midfield over the past few years. I’m sure if you asked Danger (Patrick Dangerfield) he’d say the same.
“Thommo’s got so much football knowledge and he’s been around for so long that he understands the game better than anyone. He’ll make an unbelievable coach one day.”
Sloane said part of what made Thompson such a great role model was his meticulous professionalism and work ethic.
“Everyone always gives him a bit of stick about working in the gym because he’s got the chiseled body and his guns are so big, but he knows that’s been the way to build up the strength and resilience needed for all of the training you need as an AFL footballer,” Sloane said.
“He’s been one of the most durable players that the Crows have ever had. He played 99 games in a row there at one stage, and that comes from all of that hard work he puts in. He backs up week in week out and not only that but he performs in every game. He’s been incredibly consistent.”
The Crows playing group was looking forward to watching a highlight package of Thompson’s career – which began with 39 games at Melbourne from 2001-04 – in the lead up to the Collingwood match.
Sloane knew their would plenty of the selfless grunt work, tackles and clearances that made Thompson a favourite among his teammates, but was also looking forward to any clips from the early days.
“He had long blond locks, he was rocking a different look back then,” Sloane laughed. “Maybe a few blond tips in there. I’m not sure when he decided to shave it. I constantly remind him to grow his hair again but he never wants to.”
And although Thompson is the quintessential football professional, Sloane said he was also a well-rounded person: “one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet”, a real family man with a good sense of humour.
“He’s been around footy clubs long enough to know how and when to have a bit of a laugh,” Sloane said. “He’s certainly one who enjoys the environment of a footy club.
He expected Thompson’s children, Harry and Ava, to be there to run through the banner at Adelaide Oval. “They follow him around everywhere,” Sloane said. “Little Harry’s going to be a star. He wears the footy boots and the No.5 jumper and he’s an absolute freak already – got very good skills like his old man.”
And how did he anticipate Thompson would reflect on his 300th after the final siren?
’’He loves a glass of red,” Sloane said. ”So we’ll be looking to share a few glasses with him on Saturday night after a nice win against the Pies.’’