After weeks of speculation, it is now official that Dustin Fletcher has retired. Fletcher was subbed out of his 400th game due to an abdominal injury and never played again. The club was hopeful he would be recovered for a send-off game, but it was not to be. Fletcher, 40, expressed disappointment that he could not get up for one more game. He pushed himself in the past few weeks to get back and interim coach Matthew Egan also lamented that one more game for the veteran defender had not proven possible. Egan said the Dons gave Fletcher every chance to play on Sunday but he ruled himself out.
Fletcher walks away from the game as one of only four players to have played 400 games, a dual premiership player (1993 and 2000) and two time Crichton medalist (club best and fairest). In a 23 year career, he managed to adapt to the constant changes in the game. He was one of the "Baby Bombers" of 1993 and played in an era of some of the greatest forwards in League history - Jason Dunstall, Tony Lockett and Wayne Carey. Egan, who played alongside Matthew Scarlett at Geelong, described Fletcher as one of the best defenders he had seen and compared him to his former teammates, saying Fletcher wasn't one to talk much but still commanded enormous respect and that when he did speak, others listened. Egan described Fletcher's work saying "he ... would pull players aside and talk to them about one-on-one things. Often on the track you would see him having a quiet conversation with a young player and trying to educate him."
Egan has ruled himself out of contention for the senior coaching job at Essendon, saying he didn't feel he was ready and adding that he could learn from the new coach. The club expects to announce the new coaching appointment in October.
Honors: All-Australian 2000, 2007; AFL Rising Star nominee 1993; International Rules Series 2005, 2006, 2010, 2014; Best and fairest: 2000; Premierships 1993, 2000; Preseason premierships 1994, 2000; Club Record Game Holder: 2014
At Essendon for two seasons, former Cat star Paul Chapman, announced that the Bombers' game against Richmond in Round 22 would be his last.
Chapman was one of many stars at Geelong during the Cats' dominant era and played in the 2007, 2009 and 2011 Premierships. He won the Norm Smith Medal in 2009 as best on ground in the Cats' win over St Kilda. Geelong coach Chris Scott paid tribute to Chapman, saying he would go down as a legend for the club. "He was a privilege to coach and his contribution ... will never be forgotten. Paul's playing record speaks for itself, but it doesn't show the fierce competitor and the determination that he displayed in every game ... You only had to watch the intensity he brings to know how much football means to him."
Chapman's other honors include Geelong's best and fairest award in 2006, All-Australian selection in 2009 and 2010 and preseason premierships in 2006 and 2009.
Veteran Jason Winderlich has retired, this time for good. Winderlich, 38, had announced his retirement at the end of 2014, but did an about face.
Winderlich was drafted in 2002 and debuted in 2003. He struggled with injuries throughout his career, not the least of which was a persistent back injury. He managed 129 games with his best season in 2010 when he ran third in the club's best and fairest count.
Source: afl.com.au, essendonfc.com.au
Article last changed on Sunday, September 27, 2015 - 6:34 AM EDT