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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Port Adelaide has announced a number of initiatives to honor the memory of the late John McCarthy, who died tragically while on vacation in Las Vegas in early September. The club's welfare department has worked with the players, coaches and McCarthy's family to develop the program which has been endorsed by the club board. McCarthy, who played 21 games with the Power after four seasons with Collingwood, will be remembered through the following:

The number 35 he wore, and his locker which bears the same number, will be retired for the 2013 season.

Both will be assigned in 2014 to a player (as deemed by the club and players) who represents John's values and attributes.

Port's first 2013 home game against GWS in Round 2 will be a tribute match.

An award in McCarthy's name will be introduced in 2013 to the club's Best and Fairest event. The award will go to a player for his off-field contribution. The criteria are yet to be finalized.

The Round 14 match against Collingwood will raise funds for a charity or cause linked to John's name. Port will work with Collingwood to finalize the details, including selecting the charity which will benefit.

Port Adelaide CEO Keith Thomas said the club wanted to honor John’s memory and life in an appropriate, lasting fashion and in a way that respected his family’s wishes. He again reiterated the "immediate and remarkable impact" McCarthy made in his short time with the club, saying "that is what we will acknowledge, celebrate and never forget."

Thomas said there had been numerous suggestions, including some from supporters, but the club decided upon what he said the club and John's family felt were "fitting and meaningful tributes to a much-loved and admired friend and footballer." His family had "made it clear, most significantly at his funeral, that they want his teammates to play with John’s spirit and his love of life more than be driven by his memory or their grief ... They want everyone to share that attitude and we thank and admire them ... and are grateful that they have endorsed our proposed tributes.”

In commenting on the proposed tributes, Thomas said the combination would allow opportunities for all concerned - the club, players and supporters - to pay their respects. He said the retirement of McCarthy's number and locker for the season would acknowledge his contribution to the team and wearing the number with distinction. “By bringing it back for 2014 and presenting it to a player whose values are in keeping with John’s, we allow the number 35 - and importantly what it meant to John - to be a part of Port Adelaide in the years ahead.”

The tribute match will allow supporters a "shared tribute" with the players and football community. Thomas again acknowledged the outpouring of emotions at the time of McCarthy's death and said his absence would be deeply felt, especially at the start of the season. The match will provide the chance to celebrate "J-Mac's" life and achievements. His family will be in attendance at the tribute matches. They will also be invited to the Best and Fairest awards. Thomas said McCarthy had contributed not only on the field but through his approach to training and preparation and his off-field work. Thomas concluded "John had a great social conscience and we will identify a cause that he would approve of helping and one we can all support in his name."

Source: Andrew Rutter, Port Adelaide Media Release

Article last changed on Friday, February 01, 2013 - 8:37 PM EST

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