Wycombe Wanderers' Matt Bloomfield: 'I knocked the ref's front teeth out'
Matt Bloomfield made his 400th appearance for Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday in the latest chapter of a Chairboys career which has included a League Cup semi-final, two promotions, three relegations and two play-off campaigns.
Four hundred games at one football club, spanning 12 and a half years.
It's not something that I set out to achieve. It's not something that I ever really thought might happen up until last season. And it's something that rarely happens in football, let alone in League Two.
My first Wycombe game wasn't very memorable. We lost 2-0 at home against Rushden and Diamonds. We were poor, they were better, I was average. Welcome to the real world.
I was 19 but had played for Ipswich and lived at home up until that point. I hadn't experienced the world and my mind was very narrow about lower-league football.
I entered a dressing room that was in transition. Unbeknown to myself several of the squad were on their way out of the club and I was the new kid from Ipswich that had come to take their place.
I was used to changing with my mates, trying to get into a team that was full of extremely rich footballers.
I was now part of a first team of players on normal earnings with mortgages to pay and kids to feed. Most of these were out of contract and told that they could leave. It was something of a culture shock to me.
Most memorable game
That has to be Torquay away in May 2014.
To all intents and purposes we were destined to be relegated from League Two, and the repercussions of relegation for the club into non-league could have been huge. I'm certain that I wouldn't be writing this now if that had been the case.
Changes and cuts would have had to be made and for those reasons alone the fact that we avoided relegation by a single goal makes it the stand-out game. The relief and elation was massive.
Rushden and Diamonds away at Nene Park.
Steve Claridge laid the ball off onto my left foot, 25 yards out. Head down and strike through the ball. Top corner! I know it doesn't really sound like me but I can assure you that there is video footage to prove that it is true!
One funny moment that isn't very well known is the day I knocked the referee's front teeth out at Leyton Orient.
About 10 years ago a long ball was played over my head in central midfield and I'm running back towards my goal... our defender clears the ball and as I turn I collide with the referee with the side of my head hitting his mouth.
Orient's youth team players were out on the pitch after the game looking for his teeth and I felt absolutely awful. Apart from apologising profusely after the game I feel bad that to this day I haven't ever spoken to that referee again.
Why don't more players reach 400?
Contract length, budget cuts, managers changing more often, the opportunity to earn more money elsewhere or just the feeling of 'what if the grass is greener at another club?'.
I have seen all of these reasons and many more for why a player has moved clubs. It is a very volatile business and even if a player wants to remain at a club that wants to keep him, it doesn't necessarily mean that they will reach an agreement for a contract.
There are just so many variables to consider.
What do they say about Bloomfield?
Former Chairboys manager Tony Adams, who brought Bloomfield to Adams Park, said: "He reminded me of a young Nobby Stiles; neat and tidy with good feet, but the main thing that stood out for me was his aggression.
"He was technically very good as well - he was like a Didier Deschamps or a Lassana Diarra.
"He took a little while to find his feet but his attitude was first class and I think that is what has allowed him to have such a long and successful career."
Former Wycombe team-mate and coach Keith Ryan: "I'm pretty sure I played in Blooms' debut - it was very forgettable but Matt's contribution to WWFC certainly hasn't been.
"Four hundred games - what an achievement; some injury lows but lots of highs with promotions and cup success along the way. Well done Blooms - your attitude and intelligence has made you a vital part of the Wycombe team under many managers."
And Bloomfield himself? "I'm feeling great and loving my football as much as I ever have done. I hope that there are many more to add on to the 400."