AARON Ison has had a number of setbacks since he made his debut for Wauchope Blues in 1998.
Subsequently, he would have thought on more than one occasion he was unlikely to reach 150 first grade games for the club.
The 37-year-old admits he has had to learn a few tough lessons along the way both on and off the field, but he was now focused on leading the Blues to the Group 3 premiership.
A broken neck suffered in a wrestling mishap put the five-eighth out of action for four years.
As fate would have it, Ison will run out for first grade game 150 for the Blues in Sunday’s highly-anticipated clash with Port Sharks – a club he spent four years with.
“I couldn’t state how much it means to bring up the milestone against the Sharks,” Ison said.
“I’ve got a lot of mates there and have the utmost respect for the club so I couldn’t pick a better team to play my 150th against, that’s for sure.
“I would have played 200 games for the Blues if I didn’t go to the Sharks – but I don’t regret going there at all.”
Ison conceded he was unlikely to reach the 200-game milestone for the club, but he was hopeful this milestone year would finish the same way as when he passed 100.
The Blues won the grand final in Ison’s 100th game in 2012 before they won the Clayton’s Cup a couple of years later.
While some players prefer to focus on playing the game rather than keep count of the number of games, Ison was different.
“I’ve always set myself goals like this,” he said.
“Some people don’t focus on it much, but I do because it’s a good thing for individuals to set.”
I would have played 200 games for the Blues if I didn’t go to the Sharks – but I don’t regret going there at all.Wauchope Blues five-eighth Aaron Ison
Wauchope will look to complete successive wins over Port Macquarie-based sides following their upset 26-18 victory over Port City Breakers a fortnight ago.
“Beating the Breakers is great, but we have to stay grounded and focus on being consistent over the next six weeks,” Ison said.
“If we come out this weekend play poorly and get belted by the Sharks, beating the Breakers means nothing.”
Victory over the fifth-placed Sharks will secure second spot for the Blues and a home semi-final, but Ison knows beating them will be a tough ask.
They have won their last four in a row while the Blues have won seven of their last eight with a 16-all draw at Wingham their only slip-up.
“Hopefully we can keep that form up,” Ison said.
“We’ve got Kempsey and Forster in the last two games of the round so hopefully it gives us a good run into the semis.”
The Blues have been the Group 3 surprise packet which Ison put down to strong off-season recruitment from coach Anthony Boyd.
“Last year we had a quiet year,” he said.
“Then Anthony said we needed to look around for a few new players to mould in with what we do have.
“It’s been a building process for the last six months, but it’s all coming together towards the back end of the season which is when you want it to.”