AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan may have resigned back in April, but the date of his actual departure is still up in the air. After almost 20 years in the AFL, he said he wanted to spend more time with his family. His line has changed now and he said recently there are several pending issues which he still has to oversee, not the least of which is the Hawthorn racism investigation. It's not clear why the next CEO can't handle them. He told The Melbourne Age, “The timeline is, I’m leaving, but I ... there are a few things going on that I feel it’s my responsibility to be settled down enough and on an even footing when I leave ... The priority is for the leadership to feel comfortable, that you feel stable so that when you handover it’s in a good spot. What that date is I can’t tell you, but it’s not going to be into late next year, but over the coming months ...".
Stories related to player retirements
Roster changes in the leadup to the AFL draft later this month continued at Gold Coast, Essendon, and Adelaide. In early November, inaugural Sun Rory Thompson announced his retirement citing ongoing knee issues as the reason. Thompson, 31, played 106 games for the Suns and leaves as the longest serving player in the club's short history. He was a local zone selection for the club and was one of only four players from the Gold Coast region selected for their inaugural 2011 season.
Two knee reconstructions disrupted his career, and he made a comeback early this season after almost four years on the sidelines. In making the announcement, Thompson said, “It’s been such a long journey with so many ups and downs and wonderful people ... I’m super grateful to the Suns for giving me that opportunity so many years ago as a young kid and having stuck with me all this time, it’s pretty hard to put into words what that means to me ... Towards the end of last year it was getting hard to back up games and keep my body moving and it just felt like the right time ... I ... didn’t think I would get drafted, so to go to where I am now after 14 years, I’m very proud of myself and the work I’ve put in and very grateful to the people that have helped me get this far.”
In mid-October, Port Adelaide, Adelaide, Essendon, Collingwood, and North Melbourne all made more list changes and two Western Bulldogs players announced their retirements.
Port Adelaide delisted forwards Martin Frederick and Dylan Williams but has committed to reselecting Williams in the rookie draft. Frederick, a product of the club’s Next Generation Academy, played 14 games after debuting against St Kilda in 2021. He played six games this season. against the Gold Coast in Round 15. Williams, 21, was drafted in 2019 but played just one game in 2021. He played every game for Port Adelaide in the SANFL this season, kicking 20 goals.
Adelaide delisted James Rowe, Ben Davis, and Brett Turner. Rowe was drafted in 2020 and kicked 27 goals in his 36 games as a small forward while Davis was drafted in 2016 and played 11 AFL games as both a forward and rebounding defender. Turner was picked up in the midseason draft this season but did not manage any senior games. The club is considering redrafting him as a rookie.
Following the end of the AFL season, roster changes affected West Coast, Geelong, Sydney, North Melbourne, Carlton, Port Adelaide, Essendon, and Gold Coast.
Eagle midfielder and Jack Redden has retired. He was originally drafted by Brisbane where he played 129 games in seven seasons before crossing the Eagles in 2016. He played 134 games for the Eagles including the 2018 premiership. He was a key to that winning side and was voted Player of the Finals that year as well as finishing second in the best and fairest. West Coast delisted Jackson Nelson, Hugh Dixon, Patrick Naish, and Tom Joyce. Nelson, 28, was drafted in 2014 and played 102 games mostly in defense but could take a turn in the midfield. Dixon and Joyce were supplemental selections during the club's injury crisis. Dixon was originally with the Dockers and played 10 games for the Eagles while Joyce was sidelined for the year with an ankle injury.
Just days after Geelong's Grand Final victory, Joel Selwood announced his retirement. In making the announcement at a press conference, he said he had decided six weeks prior and said "win, lose or draw" that would be it for him after 16 seasons. He kept the decision from almost everyone so the team could focus on the finals. He did speak with football manager Stephen Hocking, but did not inform Coach Chris Scott until the day of the Round 23 game against West Coast. He said telling Scott was one of the hardest things he had to do but said he did not "... want to be at 85 per cent (next year). I know that’s not good enough. I actually told him (Scott) that I was OK. I had to turn around and have another hug before I walked out.”
Just days after the Preliminary Finals concluded, there were a number of retirements and delistings. Players from several clubs including Adelaide, Brisbane, Collingwood, Fremantle, and Geelong were released or had veterans choose to retire. The exodus including three players surnamed Brown but only two of them were related.
Adelaide defender Luke Brown, 29, has retired after 189 games in 11 seasons. Brown was prelisted by GWS from his SANFL club Norwood ahead of the 2011 draft before being traded to Adelaide. He established himself as a very reliable defender, often lining up against the opposition's most dangerous forwards.
Sydney, Carlton, and North Melbourne saw more players move on. North Melbourne delisted Kyron Hayden, Matt McGuinness, and Patrick Walker. Hayden was drafted in 2017 and debuted in 2019. He played 17 games as a defender. In early 2020, injuries curtailed his season. He managed five games in 2022. McGuinness was an Academy selection in 2019 and Walker was selected in the 2020 rookie draft. Both played 17 games in the VFL in 2022. Neither managed any senior games.
Just after the conclusion of the season proper, Sydney ruckman Callum Sinclair and defender Colin O'Riordan announced their retirements. Sinclair, 32, was originally drafted by West Coast in 2012 and has played a total of 118 games. General Manager Charlie Gardiner said, "Callum has been a real warrior for us. He has played some really good senior football with us ... but in recent times his work with our VFL squad has been enormous. He has played a selfless role for the team and been a terrific leader amongst our developing players. Cal is a hugely popular player ... ".
Just ahead of the final round, Richmond wingman Shane Edwards and Port midfielder Robbie Gray announced they would retire at the end of the season. Michael Hurley, Devon Smith, and David Mundy joined them in retirement soon after.
Edwards recently reached the 300 game tally against Brisbane and was a key contributor in the 2017, 2018 and 2020 Grand Finals. He was named All-Australian in 2018 and has finished high up in the club's best and fairest numerous times. Edwards, 33, wanted to go out on his own terms and said, “It is time for me to step aside and move on just as players did for me when I started. I am trying to play to the best of my ability ... but it is pretty obvious ... I won’t be helping us move forward next year. The club has given me everything, it has changed my life forever and I will always be connected to the Richmond Football Club. My teammates are what I will miss the most, we have been through so much together and always had fun ... I have won premierships and a few wooden spoons and finished everywhere in between as well.”
Three more veteran players joined this year's group of retired players. Matt de Boer, Ben McEvoy, and Sydney's Josh Kennedy. Just ahead of Round 22, GWS midfielder Matt de Boer, 32, announced his immediate retirement due to the lingering effects of a concussion he suffered in mid-June. He ends his career on 223 games, 138 of which were played for the Dockers before he joined GWS. It was at GWS he cemented his reputation as one of the game's most effective taggers. He was a crucial part of the teams that made it to the finals, including the 2019 Grand Final loss to Richmond.
In making the announcement, de Boer said, The Giants ... and its people is truly a special place ... “My heart is unequivocally full of gratitude and love for the friendships, memories and opportunities that playing in the AFL has availed me. “I’d particularly like to thank Leon Cameron for believing in me and challenging me always to be the best version of myself. I’d also like to thank the Fremantle Dockers for first recruiting me...".
Eagle forward Josh Kennedy and Port forward Steven Motlop both announced their retirements ahead of Round 21. The game against the Crows was Kennedy's last while Motlop bowed out immediately. Kennedy, 34, was expected to retire at the end of the season, but a knee issue saw him decide to call time sooner. He was originally drafted by Carlton and played for the Blues for two seasons before being traded to the Eagles in exchange for Chris Judd. Many believe the Eagles got the better of the deal given Kennedy's longevity and goal scoring, in spite of Judd winning his second Brownlow Medal with the Blues.
In a club statement Kennedy said, “It’s been a privilege to play so many years at this great football club and I’ll forever be grateful for the opportunity to represent the West Coast Eagles and Carlton There are so many people to thank for helping me on the journey over 17 years. Obviously my wife Lauren and daughters Sage and Lottie, my family who always supported me, coaches John Worsfold and Adam Simpson, club staff and of course my teammates. Footy and the West Coast Eagles have given me so much and I’ve loved the journey. I’ve made lifelong friendships and learned so much from champions like Dean Cox, Darren Glass, Luke Shuey, Shannon Hurn and Mark LeCras ... My knee is a big reason ... my drive to play is still there, but I’m realistic my body is not going to be able to take me to another season. To be able to farewell West Coast supporters one last time at Optus Stadium and say thank you for the incredible support over the years will be the perfect way to finish my career.”