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With each milestone reached, it is natural to reflect on ones that have passed. But they are not so much numbers but moments.

Signing that first $25,000 contract; making your first-grade debut; representing your state at the pinnacle of the sport and the pain of finals heartbreaks.

When Michael Gordon runs out for his 250th NRL game representing the region where he grew up against the team that gave him his chance, there will be two moments that stand out.

Close to 500 friends and family will populate the southern end of Gold Coast’s Cbus Super Stadium to see Gordon and the Titans face the Panthers on Friday night, many of whom have been integral in turning a boyhood dream into a 14-year Telstra Premiership career.

There will be the guys he played with in the Queensland Cup at Tweed Heads who were on the field the day he tore Easts Tigers to shreds and caught the eye of then Panthers coach John Lang.

Also in the crowd will be Gordon’s seven-year-old son Cruz, whose mere arrival in 2011 convinced his dad not to quit.

His 1670 points for the Panthers, Sharks, Eels, Roosters and Titans places "Flash" 14th all-time in the NRL’s scoring record books but the truth is he never imagined playing his first game for Penrith against Cronulla in round eight, 2006.

Roberts set to face Panthers

"I was working in a nursery during the day and at Galileo’s pizza shop at Banora Point four nights a week and playing footy with my mates on the weekend," Gordon tells

"I never really thought about playing footy professionally. When you're young you want to but as I got older – there was no Titans team or anything – I was actually pretty comfortable with my life and happy doing what I was doing.

"All my mates were tradies and I was just into that life.

"I didn't have your traditional pathway coming through the grades. I didn't play 20s or Jersey Flegg or anything like that. I was playing Q Cup for Tweed and didn't go down to Penrith until I was 21.

"I dreamed of playing one game and to get to this many is something that I am really proud of because I've had almost 10 surgeries and missed a lot of footy in my career.

"Even though I'm pushing 50 I'm really proud of being able to make it this far," added Gordon, at 35 years and 171 days the third-oldest player in the NRL in 2019.

The culture shock of moving from Cabarita to Penrith came with issues of budgeting on his $25,000 deal.

"I thought I was a millionaire but I'd never been paid monthly before. After two weeks I could barely afford rent and I was eating bread and rice."

He played his 100th game for Penrith in round nine, 2011 and a week later suffered a season-ending ACL injury 10 minutes from full-time in a 33-10 win over the Broncos.

He fought back, rejected a new contract offer following some impressive form in the 2012 trials and broke his leg 20 minutes into the round-one clash with the Bulldogs.

Titans v Panthers - Round 5

"That was horrible. I was in hospital for four days and missed 20 weeks,” Gordon recalls.

"I played the last four or five games that season but I had another two surgeries on the same leg after to try and fix it. I'm pretty sure I've got to have another cleanout at the end of this year.

"I was off contract, had a really good deal put in front of me from Penrith that I said no to because I wanted to go on the market.

"By the time I got out of hospital that contract was no longer there, which is understandable. I would have done the same thing if I was the club."

Waiting for him at home when he did get out of hospital – and not long out of hospital himself – was baby son Cruz, his "couch buddy" who perhaps only now will realise the significance of his own impeccable timing.

"That 20 weeks was really lonely. That's when I contemplated giving it up and moving back home," Gordon reveals.

"The only thing that probably saved me was when I did my knee my son was born not long before it.

"I pretty much spent a year sitting next to him on the couch playing video games and watching TV together.

"In 2012 it was the same thing. He was my couch buddy for a while there. That's probably the only thing I could take out of it because I was isolated, doing rehab by myself.

"I was in a boot for 12 weeks, crutches for six weeks, just a shitty injury. He was barely one so that was probably the best thing for me, spending his first year with him all the time."

Perhaps in time Cruz will become a Titan himself and play 250 games for his hometown team; it’s certainly the vision coach Garth Brennan has for the club.

"It was the club that he always wanted to play at but the planets never aligned for him," Brennan says of Gordon’s milestone occasion.

Michael Gordon with son Cruz after a Sharks win in 2015.
Michael Gordon with son Cruz after a Sharks win in 2015. ©NRL Photos

"To come back and finish his career here, to play his 250th, to have nearly 500 people come and support him is fantastic for the club.

"That's the vision I have for the Titans, to have local products who bring their fans and their relatives and their mates along to the game and that way the fans get a little bit more connected to the team.

"He's had a terrific career. To play one game is a massive milestone but to play 250 is a testament to his professionalism and work ethic."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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