Tom Wilson kicks the ball forward for Collingwood during the Smithy's VFL Round 10 match against North Melbourne. Photo: Collingwood Football Club

149 matches, long-time club captain, five-time best and fairest winner and a Big V representative. It’s a resume that makes Tom Wilson one of the most popular and respected players in the Smithy’s VFL – not to mention one of the best.

After a storied 140-match, 87-goal career across 11 seasons with the Northern Bullants/Blues, Wilson made the switch to Collingwood in the most recent off-season to reunite with Josh Fraser, his former coach at Preston City Oval.

This weekend Wilson will play 150th VFL game when the Magpies host the Sydney Swans at AIA Centre on Saturday morning.

In typical Tom Wilson fashion, he sought to deflect the credit for his wonderful career.

“It’s probably an outcome of all the hard work that people have been willing to put into me and my footy career over the time. From my coaches, support personnel, family and friends as well and then obviously my teammates along the way,” he told the State of Play: VFL/W Podcast this week.

“When I started the umpires were running around in orange fluoro Buffalo outfits and ABC were recording one game a week.

“I just wanted to earn the respect of my teammates first and foremost. Gain the trust and respect of my coaches and over a period of time I guess I was able to do that.”

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 22: Tom Wilson of the Bullants handballs during the round nine VFL match between the Northern Bullants and Geelong Cats at Preston City Oval on May 22, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/AFL Photos)

For all his many individual accolades, team success has eluded the star midfielder to this point of his playing journey.

Wilson has the Bob Skilton-like record of just one finals appearance in a journey that has netted 54 wins across 149 games. However, unlike the legendary Swan, Wilson played in a winning team in his final – a 28-point triumph over Bendigo in the 2011 elimination final.

A long-awaited second final could be on the agenda later this season, with Collingwood sitting just a game outside the top 10 with a 5-5 record, ahead of a clash with struggling Swans in Wilson’s milestone 150th VFL appearance.

His excitement at what could be ahead for the Magpies can’t hide a deep-seated love for the for his former clubs.

“It was a great honour (to play for the Bullants). It was just a special time and the footy club were outstanding to me and showed a lot of faith and trust,” Wilson said.

“It was really enjoyable in those early days with the likes of Jarrod McCorkell and Ahmed Saad and Andre Gianfagna, who have all gone on and done wonderful things post footy.

“It was a terrific learning experience and you just tried to soak it up as much as you could.

“It's terrific this season that the Bullants have been able to have a couple of wins already.”

The switch to Collingwood could be put down to wanting to again play for one man – Fraser – who Wilson could not speak higher of.

“I’ve got a lot of admiration and respect for Frase. It’s fair to say I wouldn’t have had the footy career or the opportunities if I didn’t have him in my corner,” he said.

“He’s been a power of support for me. One thing that’s probably resonated with me is not only is he a great coach and his players love him but he’s also a terrific role model for young men.

“He probably did things (to save the Bullants) that anyone is unaware of other than his wife Kylie. The hours Frase would have put in to get that footy club up and running along with Stevie Papal and Darren Bassett – they worked extremely hard to get the club up and going.”

Collingwood is coming off a bye following an upset win over Casey Demons at Casey Fields in Round 12 – where the Magpies overcame an early five-goal deficit to beat the Demons for the first time in seven years.

“It was a super impressive performance. Casey are super strong down there and to get the four points probably evens us up a bit,” Wilson said.

“We went into the bye 5-5 and we can look optimistically towards the end of the season.

“Obviously the supporters are very passionate and very vocal so hopefully we’ll kick a few more goals than Sydney on the weekend and you’ll be able to hear the noise.”

Having been on the end of defeats in his 50th and 100th games there are not many who would begrudge Wilson finally having a milestone victory and going on to that long-awaited second final.