Raft Of Retirements, Part One

Lisa Albergo's picture

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

MATTHEW BOYD
The 2017 season will be the last for highly decorated and respected veteran bulldog Matthew Boyd. He agreed to a new contract late last year but knew 2017 would be his last. Despite injuries restricting him to just nine games this year, he says he has no regrets about deciding to play one more season. He said after the Grand Final last year, he still felt his form was good and that he could still make contributions on and off the field.

Boyd will leave the game with three Charles Sutton Medals, three All-Australian awards, a premiership, captaincy of the Bulldogs and as one of the most respected players of the modern era. Boyd, 34, said the club felt like an extended family, “It has been an amazing journey ... for 16 years ... I am fortunate to have been given the opportunity to play for such an amazing club and to have met so many incredible people along the way. For me it’s those friendships and special bonds ... that mean the most to me, and are what make this club so special. I’m proud to finish my career as a one-club player, and I want to thank everyone ... for their support of me and my family over my career. The Bulldogs’ fans have been phenomenal. I thank you for embracing me, and it was truly an honor playing for you.”

On missing so many games through injury this year, Boyd said it was an opportunity to " ... to grow as a person and to deal with some adversity ... I'm proud of how I've gone ... I think my character has shone through and I've handled myself with integrity and I'm proud of that ... most importantly what this extra year has given me is that time to spend with the people in this room who mean so much to me – the players and the staff and the footy club as a whole. It's been a great place to work at and to explore a journey." Boyd, after Round 20, was on 291 games, the most ever by a player who started on the rookie list. Only seven other Bulldog players have recorded more games: Brad Johnson, Chris Grant, Doug Hawkins, Ted Whitten, Scott West, Rohan Smith and Bob Murphy.

Boyd said he still pinches himself over last year's premiership triumph, especially since club was in such a "dark space" at the end of 2014 when Brendan McCartmey was sacked as coach, CEO Simon Garlick quit, captain Ryan Griffen headed for the Gold Coast Suns, and Adam Cooney crossed to Essendon.

Boyd is "a little bit embarrassed" to be in the same company as fellow 2017 retirees Nick Riewoldt, Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell, Matt Priddis and Scott Thompson, who he described as "superstars and icons of our game", but Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said Boyd shared many of the qualities those five players possess, "All those retirees share that modesty and that humility ... He led by example on the field and led off the field ... He can walk away ... self-assured ... that he is adored and loved by everyone here and probably respected by the footy community and in particular our supporter base and our members."

Beveridge also said of Boyd, "Matthew has made an amazing contribution ... and he will be remembered as one of the most influential players in the club’s history ... His ... on-field achievements stack up among the greats of this club, and he is held in the highest regard through his outstanding leadership ... Matthew can be very proud of what he accomplished ... and we thank him for his passion, professionalism, strong work ethic and ability to make others better around him.” Boyd was selected as a rookie in 2001 and debuted early in 2003. By 2004, he has established himself as a regular in the senior team.

He forged a strong reputation as a hard-running, ball-winning midfielder, and he enjoyed a dominant period as one of the elite players in the competition. Perhaps his best seasons were 2009-2012, with best and fairest wins, All-Australian selections and captaining the team 2011-13. The past few seasons have seen Boyd playing in defense where his work was crucial to the 2016 premiership win.

Boyd has averaged 25 disposals per game in his career (the second most by a Bulldog player who has played over 100 games), and has kicked 85 goals.

He started his media conference by joking that it was a big turnout for a contract extension.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
Captain: 2011-2013
Premiership side: 2016
Charles Sutton Medal: 2009, 2011, 2012
All Australian team: 2009, 2011, 2016
International Rules Series: 2008, 2010

Source: Katie de Haer, Western Bulldogs Media Release, afl.com.au

DENNIS ARMFIELD
This season will be the last for Carlton's Dennis Armfield. He, too, made the announcement after Round 20. Armfield, 30, grew up playing rugby but switched to footy. A speedy forward, he has played 144 games (through RD 21) in 10 seasons and is a fan favorite. He said he believes the time is right, “Carlton has obviously been incredibly special to me ... This place has been my second home ... my second family ... it’s going to be pretty hard to leave, the friends and memories I have made here will stay with me for life. But, with the number of exciting young players now coming through, it feels right to call time. He thanked the fans for their support over the years, describing them as "the lifeblood" of the club and believes the club is on the right track

Off the field, Armfield has been involved in a number of charities. His work with Odyssey House Drug and Rehabilitation Center saw him win the 2015 Jim Stynes Community Service Award. He also has been a regular volunteer at the Royal Children's Hospital.

Armfield became a member of the club's leadership group at the start of this year and also worked part-time as a coach of the AFLW Blues team. Former player and current head of football Andrew McKay paid tribute to Armfield, "Dennis was the epitome of a team-first footballer and he has been a very loyal servant . for over 10 years. He has been a fantastic role model for our younger players and ... a passionate ambassador for a number of charities ... His recent integration into the Club’s AFLW program speaks volumes of his genuine passion in helping others.”

Armfield also wrote a letter to all the members in which he thanked all of his coaches for their faith in him and their guidance. In the letter, he said in part, "To my teammates and everyone I’ve played with over the years, thank you for the memories. I’ll miss being in at the club every day, and I’ll certainly miss all the laughs, but I’m determined to stay in touch. You won’t get rid of me that easily! The same goes with all the staff at the Club. To the medical personnel, trainers, fitness staff and weights coaches, thank you for keeping me going for all these years! I have also forged some fantastic relationships with the ... administration staff ... been involved with projects that I couldn’t have dreamed of before I started playing AFL.

To the Carlton Cheer Squad… Thank you for always being there for me. I have loved getting to know you all over the years . I’d also like to acknowledge Paul Ryan ... my player sponsor ... I truly appreciate your loyalty! Thanks also to my manager Colin Young for all that you have done for me.

My family means the world to me, and I wouldn’t have had such a long and enjoyable career had it not been for the support of some key individuals. To my dad, thank you for always being there for me and for driving me to live my dream to play AFL. To my beautiful wife Abby, thank you for being my rock ... Finally, to everyone who cheered me on throughout the years, thank you. You’ll never know how your support and energy drove me and motivated me.

Source: Alexandra Stewart, Carlton Media Release, carltonfc.com.au

JESSE WHITE
Collingwood forward Jesse White has announced his retirement from football after 127 games over 11 seasons. He had a chat to Coach Nathan Buckley about a week before making the announcement just before Round 20. Buckley said he noticed that White was very at ease with his decision, “In his mind it was time and it was clear to him, and me, that he was making the right call", Buckley said
White came from a basketball background and was originally drafted by the Sydney Swans in 2006 and debuted in 2008. He played 71 games with the Swans before being traded to the Magpies.White, 29, was a versatile player as he could play forward, ruck, wing and defense. He kicked 148 goals in his career.

White, a talented designer and photographer, was grateful to Collingwood and Sydney for the opportunity to play AFL and the opportunities afforded him. He said he was looking forward to spending more time with his family and his other interests. Buckley said of White, “Jesse has been a first class teammate and someone who was always prepared to do what was asked of him ... always willingly. There is a lot of respect and warmth for Jesse at Collingwood and we wish him, along with his family, the best for the future.”

Source: Stephen Rielly, Collingwood Media Release

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