by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
St. Kilda champion Robert Harvey announced that he would retire at the end of the season. Harvey, who said telling his teammates was the hardest thing he had ever done, said he believed it was the right time to step aside to give younger players a chance and also said he was looking forward to spending more time with his wife and children. Harvey, who started his career at the age of 16 in 1988 described the Saints as his second family and the club as his second home. He believes the club is in good hands and confident of future success. At one stage, he joked that he might put in an appearance or two at preseason training....."just to keep fit..."
Harvey thanked his family for their support and thanked the club and supporters. Of his family, he said they had put up with a lot, but were always supportive. Of the club he said he was honored to have stretched out his career as long as did and would like to be remembered as someone who gave his all for and loved the club. He praised the supporters as some of the most passionate around and described that passion as inspirational and a big factor in why he kept going for so long.
Coach Ross Lyon, who actually played against Harvey during his playing days with Fitzroy, praised Harvey as one of the most respected and admired players in the game and described him as a consummate professional. He went on to say that Harvey would be remembered as a "...selfless team player who did whatever it took for the Saints to be successful...". He said Harvey would be greatly missed but well remembered by all fans. Carlton Coach Brett Ratten was a contemporary of Harvey's during their junior days. He described Harvey as a great role model and absolute champion and went on to say, "The game will miss Robert Harvey." Coach Lyon urged all fans to come out to the last few games to pay tribute to Harvey.
AFL boss Andrew Demetriou also lauded Harvey, thanking him for his contribution to the game. He said watching Harvey play was a pleasure for all fans and further praised Harvey's commitment to club and teammates. He continued, "...Harvey has been an example of sportsmanship, skill and dedication and...one of the great ambassadors for our competition" He said Harvey would bow out as one of the game's great champions and described his consistency to that of Tiger and Hawthorn greats Kevin Bartlett and Michael Tuck.
Harvey, 36, will be listed third on the all-time games list after Round 21. Round 22, should Harvey play all the remaining games, will be his 380th, just behind Michael Tuck (426) and Kevin Bartlett (403). He is also the only player in league history to poll Brownlow votes in 100 games or more and, prior to Round 19, had a career total of 305 votes.
Draft: Recruited by St Kilda from its VCFL zone in 1988
Games: 376 (through Round 18)
Goals: 213 (through Round 18)
Honors: Brownlow Medal 1997, 1998; All-Australian 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003; Club Best and Fairest 1992, 1994, 1997, 1998; preseason premierships 1996, 2004, 2008; Michael Tuck Medal (best on ground in preseason premiership) 2004; EJ Whitten Medal (Victoria's best on ground in State of Origin games) 1992, 1993, 1996; AFLPA MVP 1997; International Rules Series 1998.
Source: Matt Schmidt, Club Media Release & Melbourne Age
Not unexpectedly, forward Fraser Gehrig announced his retirement after his comeback this season with the Saints was unsuccessful. Gehrig announced his retirement at the end of the 2007 season, but decided to give it one more shot after just one month. Gehrig, due to arthritis in his hands which was aggravated in wet and/or cold weather, played just five games this year and the club put him on the long-term injury list in May after he underwent hand surgery. Gehrig said he had no regrets about his attempted comeback, but does regret not having had the chance to play in a premiership team.
Gehrig debuted for West Coast in 1995 and played 115 games and kicked 159 goals before joining St. Kilda at the end of 2000. He was West Coast's leading goalkicker in 1998 and won a Rising Star nomination in 1995. Gehrig played 145 games with the Saints and kicked 390 goals for St. Kilda. He led the club's goalkicking 2003-2007 and won the Coleman Medal in 2004 and 2005. Gehrig won St. Kilda's best and fairest award in 2001 and was named All-Australian in 1997 and 2004. He played in St. Kilda's 2004 preseason premiership.
Fremantle's Heath Black, sidelined with a shoulder injury, announced his retirement ahead of the Round 19 game. Black, who has played just six games in 2008, said injuries had finally caught up with him. He also had an injury-interrupted preseason and had been considering the decision to retire all year.
Black was drafted by the Dockers in 1996 and played 15 games in his first season in 1997. That year, he earned a Rising Star nomination, but injuries restricted him to just one game in 1998. He bounced back and finished as runner-up to Peter Bell in the club's 2001 best and fairest award. He was then traded to St. Kilda where he spent three seasons before requesting a trade back to Fremantle at the end of 2004. He played every game in 2005 and missed just one game in 2006. He was an integral part of the team's two finals appearances. His start to 2007 was again disrupted by injury but he again came back to win the 2007 Best Clubman Award. Black said one of the things he would miss the most was the camaraderie with his teammates. He also said the highlight of his career was playing in the preliminary finals with the Saints and Fremantle.
Club CEO Steve Rosich acknowledged the contributions and sacrifices Black had made for the club. Black, who was contracted through the end of next season, came to an amicable agreement with the club through his management.
Games 192 (138 with Fremantle), 54 with St. Kilda)
Goals: 80 (61 with Fremantle, 19 with St. Kilda)
Honors: Runner-Up Doig Medal 2001; Best Clubman 2007; Rising Star nominee 1997; International Rules Series 2005; South Fremantle premiership team 1997
Fremantle Docker Luke Webster told the club he would not renew his contract next year. Webster, who underwent his fourth knee reconstruction in April, said he wanted to step aside to make room for younger players and was unsure if he would continue playing next year. Webster played 33 games for the Dockers since his debut in 2003 and won the Best Clubman Award in 2006. He was also one of the best on ground in Fremantle's historic first final against Essendon in 2003.
After discussions with Fremantle Coach Mark Harvey and Football Operations Manager Chris Bond, Jeff Farmer has decided to retire after a 14 year career which began with the Melbourne Demons. Farmer thanked both the Demons and the Dockers for giving him the opportunities he has had over the years as well as the loyalty of the fans.
Harvey and club CEO Steve Rosich both acknowledged Farmer's contribution to the club. Harvey said Farmer was the type of player fans came to see while Rosich described Farmer as an exciting player and a fan favorite. Rosich also said the club would help Farmer in any way they could to help him make the transition from playing into retirement. Farmer retires as the leading indigenous goalkicker of all time with 483 career goals. He is also second on Fremantle's goalkicking list with 224 since joining the club in 2002.
Farmer debuted in 1995 and played seven games. He was a Rising Star nominee in 1996 and was also a finalist contender for Goal of the Year. He won the Goal of the Year award in 1997 and was runner-up for Mark of the Year in 1997.He also represented Australia in the International Rules Series.
Ironically, Fremantle traded away their draft pick which would have secured Farmer to Melbourne.
Drafted by Melbourne 1994
Traded to Fremantle 2001
Finals Games: 10
Playing Honors: AFL Rising Star nominee 1996, International Rules series 1998, All-Australian 2000, Melbourne leading goalkicker 1997, WA State of Origin team 2005-2006
Source: Luke Morfesse, Club Media Release
North Melbourne Kangaroo Shannon Grant, who played his 300th game in Round 22, announced his retirement just before the first week of the Finals. Grant was taking longer and longer for him to recover after games. Coach Dean Laidley has already spoken to Grant about an off-field role with the club.
Originally drafted by Sydney, Grant was traded to the Kangaroos for Wayne Schwass. He quickly established himself as an effective midfielder with a knack for kicking goals. He won the club's best and fairest award in 2001, and placed second three other times (2003, '04, '05). He was also named in the All-Australian side in 2005. Grant played in the 1999 premiership and won the Norm Smith Medal as best on ground. He was also a member of the Kangaroos' 1998 preseason premiership team.
Source: Herald Sun
North Melbourne Kangaroo Jess Sinclair announced his retirement several days after the team lost to Sydney in a Qualifying Final. While the senior team is done for the year, Sinclair will have more chance playing for North's VFL affiliate Werribee in their finals series. He will then take some time off from football as he is getting married in January, but he would like to stay involved with the game at some level.
Sinclair was originally drafted by the Fremantle Dockers and played 50 games there before joining the Kangaroos via the trade for Peter Bell. He played 142 games for the Kangaroos as a hard-running defender. North Melbourne's football manager Donald McDonald acknowledged Sinclair's contribution to the club, praising his committment and work ethic and said Jess was one of the hardest trainers at the club, setting a great example for the younger players. McDonald also said Sinclair was a respected and popular player with the club and should be proud of his achievements.
Sinclair reciprocated and was equally effusive in his praise and gratitude to the Kangaroos for their support. He said the club was like a second family to him and that he was looking forward to seeing them succeed on the field.
AFL Rising Star Nominee 1998
Source: John Murphy, Club Media Release
Adelaide Crows' defender Nathan Bassett announced his retirement. Bassett was originally drafted by Melbourne in 1997 but traded to the Crows at the end of the year. He debuted for Adelaide in 1998 and, through Round 22 this year, played 209 games. He missed out on Adelaide's 1998 Grand Final triumph through injury, but did play in the club's 2003 preseason premiership. He played every game this year and just the eighth Crow to notch 200 games, joining Mark Ricciuto, Ben Hart, Andrew McLeod , Tyson Edwards, Nigel Smart, Mark Bickley and Simon Goodwin.
Bassett was runner-up for the club champion award in 2005 and the following year was named as a back pocket in the All Australian team. He has been a member of Adelaide’s leadership group since 2005. He is also a director on the Crows Foundation Board and a Life Member of the club.
Club CEO Steven Trigg paid tribute to Bassett for his leadership, onfield courage and contribution to the team and club.
Source: David Burtenshaw, Club Media Release
Geelong's Nathan Ablett, who walked out on the club after their premiership win last year, has informed the club he does not want to continue his AFL career. The club gave Ablett time off earlier this year to consider his options. He did return briefly to play for the Geelong Falcons in the VFL and the club was hoping he would return to senior football next year. He was later sidelined due to an ankle injury sustained while playing basketball.
The reclusive Ablett, the youngest of the Ablett clan, told the club he wants to head north to build a career in the building industry. Club president Frank Costa said that, while the club is disappointed as they believe he would be a great player, they respected his decision. Ablett played a total of 32 games for Geelong, including the 2007 premiership win.
On the eve of the finals, Sydney Swan Ben Matthews announced his retirement, saying he felt he was losing his passion and enthusiasm and did not wish to reach a point of letting his teammates down. He also said he felt he had given everything he could. Coach Paul Roos praised Matthews' contribution to the club and made special mention of his performance in the 2005 premiership win. Matthews, who debuted in 1997, played 198 games. He won a Rising Star nomination in 1999, was named the 2000 Most Improved Player and was a member of the leadership group.
Source: Tara White, Club Media Release
After the Swans lost their Semi-Final game against the Western Bulldogs, Peter "Spida" Everitt announced his retirement to his teammates. He had informed Coach Paul Roos about a month ago of his decision. Everitt said he was "honored" to play for Sydney for the past several years. In his prime, Everitt was a top ruckman and could also play up forward. A colorful character, in more ways than one with tattoos on his arms and shoulders, Everitt began his 291 game career with St. Kilda in 1993 and has the distinction of being the first player ever to be nominated for the Rising Star Award in Round 1 of that year. He played 180 games and kicked 299 goals for the Saints 1993-2002 before being traded to Hawthorn. He played 72 games and kicked 67 goals for the Hawks 2003-2006 and was then traded to Sydney. For several years, Everitt was also a regular panelist on The Footy Show.
Honors: St. Kilda best and fairest 2001; St. Kilda leading goalkicker 2000; Hawthorn best and fairest 2004; All-Australian 1997-98 and 2000; International Rules 1998; St. Kilda preseason premiership 1996.
Source: The Australian & 2008 AFL Record Season Guide
Article last changed on Friday, September 19, 2008 - 7:27 PM EDT