Collingwood defender Tom Langdon has been forced to retire due to a chronic knee injury. Langdon, 26, was drafted in 2013 and played 89 games for the Magpies. A mainstay of the backline, he was named one of the best on ground in the 2018 Grand Final against the Eagles. He suffered severe cartilage damage just two months into the 2019 season and has not played since. General manager of football Geoff Walsh paid tribute to Langdon, “Tom played some wonderful football ... and it was a sad day when the reality of his premature retirement arrived.
Stories related to player retirements
In mid-November, the AFL announced that club lists will be the following: 36 to 38 senior players, 4-6 Category A rookies and two Category B rookies. Rookie listed players will be allowed to play senior football without having to be elevated to the senior list. So many clubs have had to make hard calls on players, with some clubs even demoting senior players to rookie lists. Although there have already been some trades and free agent signings, the free agency period ran November 25 through November 29 with the first list lodgment due November 25 ahead of the free agency period.
It comes as no surprise that the 2020 Grand Final was Gary Ablett's last game. There was very little fanfare and no major announcement, most likely due to the fact that almost everyone knew it was to be his last. There is little that can be said about the "Little Master" that has not already been said or written. At the end of the game, all the Richmond players lined up with the Cats to form a guard of honor for Ablett. However, there was much more to it than that.
Just days after Travis Varcoe announced his retirement, Lynden Dunn did likewise. Collingwood also delisted midfielder Tim Broomhead and defender Matthew Harry Reynolds. All three have had injury setbacks during their careers and the trio made comebacks of sorts in 2020 but were unable to cement their places in the senior team. Dunn, 34, was drafted by Melbourne in 2004 and played 165 games. He played just four games in 2016 as the Demons opted for younger defenders and he was traded to the Magpies at the end of the year.
Hawthorn delisted Darren Minchington, Jackson Ross and Will Golds. Minchington, 26, was drafted by St Kilda in 2012 but injuries over the years restricted him to just 28 games. He was delisted at the end of 2018. He was signed by the Hawks as a delisted free agent for 2019 but never played a senior game. Two hamstring injuries bookended his season and he played just eight VFL games and was delisted once more However, the Hawks thrrew him a lifeline when Will Golds suffered a season-ending knee injury.
As the season nears to a close, more clubs not in contention have made cuts to their lists and a few more players have announced their retirements.
The Adelaide Crows have delisted Riley Knight, Patrick Wilson and Ayce Taylor. Knight, 25, was drafted in 2013 and played 55 games. Wilson, 25, was drafted in 2018 and played just two senior games but none this year. Taylor was added to the list during the preseason supplemental selection period but never played a senior game. Wilson, while playing in the SANFL, won two best and fairest awards.
Just days after Stratton, Puopolo and Simpson decided to bow out, so did Port forward Justin Westhoff. He will see out the season. Westhoff, 33 and the father of four, is in second spot for games played with the Power. After Round 18, his game tally is 281. He said of his retirement and career, “I’m not getting any younger ... and it just seems to be the right time ... Having a young family, I don’t want to miss much more of what my kids are doing, so it just felt like the right time.
At the end of Round 17, three more players announced their retirements- Hawks Ben Stratton and Paul Puopolo and Carlton defender Kade Simpson. Both Stratton and "Poppy" were selected as mature-age recruits in the 2009 and 2010 drafts respectively. Both quickly cemented their positions in the side and were part of the club/s incredible run of success, Stratton as a tough and clever defender, Puopolo as a reliable forward who could apply plenty of pressure on opposition defenders. Stratton, 31, assumed the captaincy in 2019 when Jarryd Roughead retired at the end of 2019.