SHAUN Higgins’ journey to 250 games has been a long and winding road.
It began as a ‘footy mad’ kid growing up in the Geelong region.
Shaun’s father Mick who played Geelong reserves was heavily involved in local footy and Shaun’s earliest memories include going along to watch Barwon Heads play where his father was the coach in the early 90’s.
He’d always have a footy in hand and spent his junior years split between St Joseph’s and Newtown playing junior football. All he’d talk about at school was football too and his dream was to one day become an AFL player.
That dream became a reality when the Western Bulldogs called out his name with the 11th overall selection in the 2005 national draft.
The talented midfielder from the Geelong Falcons finally got his chance on the big stage when he made his debut against Collingwood in his rookie season.
He’d go onto play five games before an elbow injury saw him miss the remainder of the season.
The following year was a breakout for the then 19-year-old Dog, playing 20 games and receiving a rising star nomination. He proved a dangerous asset in attack with 26 goals and started to build a reputation as one of the best field kicks in the game.
He’d go onto play 129 games for Bulldogs which included being named in the Bulldogs leadership group in 2009. He did have to overcome many setbacks with injury seeing him miss large chucks of football throughout his eight years at the club.
At the end of 2014 he moved to North Melbourne as a restricted free agent and made an immediate impact playing 24 games and kicking 39 goals in first season.
Higgins quickly established himself as one of North Melbourne’s star players winning two Syd Barker Medals and receiving an All-Australian blazer in 2018.
He went on to play 108 games between 2015 and 2020 before returning joining the Cats via a trade.
A move that would see him join his sister and AFLW Cat Danielle Higgins at the club.
After watching so many of his heroes play on the hallowed turf at GMHBA Stadium as a kid growing up, he was excited to be back in the town where it all began and finally have the chance to run out in the hoops at Kardinia Park.
"I am excited about playing and also being back here where in some ways it first began growing up being a Geelong supporter, and with family involved at the football club now and family living in Geelong as well, so it’s exciting for myself to be able to play, but also (for) our personal life as well,” Higgins said at the time of the trade.
Twelve games into his Geelong career and Higgins feels his football is in a good place as he’s settled into his forward half role.
“I’ve been feeling really good over the past couple of weeks,” Higgins said.
“A week off to freshen up was also something that’s contributed to that and also just understanding and executing the role from both my point of view and also the coaches.
The 33-year-old still feels he can improve, as he does everything he possibly can to give himself the best chance to win a premiership.
“I am always looking at ways to improve my game and become a more rounded player and person.”
“I think I’ve been able to do that this year through the help of being in a new environment and seeing how different guys and coaches go about it.”
“I haven’t yet been able to make Grand Final Day, that is front and centre of my motivation to get up and continue to do what I do and overcome those challenges.”
As he reflects on reaching another milestone this weekend, he’s proud of some of the challenges he’s had to overcome to reach 250 games.
“It’s always nice to achieve any milestone and as a player you sort of park it as much as you can, particularly in the lead up to a game.
“It is something you reflect on probably more post-game and maybe at the end of the year, with obviously a job at hand for us to get done this week as well.
“There are always obstacles along the journey and it’s probably why it makes it so special.”
Higgins’ journey to 250 games has had many twists and turns. He’s had to overcome many challenges to make it to this milestone and he’s hoping this moment brings joy to some of the people that’ve helped him along the way.
“Through some hard work and I know that I put in the hours to do it, combined with some good luck and some really good people around me to help me out, I get to 250 games this weekend.”
“I’ve never really been one to highlight milestones along the way, I’ve really just taken them as they come.
“I think it’s more for other people to celebrate and get the recognition and contribution that they’ve been able to make to my career and hopefully they get some enjoyment from that as well.”
From a kid with a big dream of playing for the Cats as a youngster growing up in Hamlyn Heights to reaching this moment. It’s been quite the journey for Shaun Higgins.
We wish you well against North Melbourne on Saturday.