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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago 

Just ahead of Round 23, out of favor Docker defender Garrick Ibbotson and veteran Bomber midfielder Brent Stanton both announced their retirement.

Facing an uncertain future, Ibbotson to call it a day. Ibbotson, 29 , played the first 10 games of the season but was dropped to the WAFL after Fremantle's 100 point loss to Adelaide. However, as of Round 23, his season isn't over yet as he qualifies to play finals for WAFL team Peel Thunder. He said, "... as hard as it is to leave a football club, I think it’s the right time for me and I am happy with my decision.”

He missed out on Fremantle's only Grand Final appearance due to an Achilles injury and missed out on Peel's 2016 premiership win due to qualification requirements. He was short one game and is now excited by the prospect of helping Peel to another flag, Playing for Peel was always really high on my agenda, especially now that I have qualified for finals. I missed out last year ... and watched the boys win the premiership, which was good to see, but it would have been nice to be a part of it. I am keen to be a part of it this this year and, hopefully, we have some success.”

Ibbotson played 177 games and booted 22 goals for Freo since being drafted in 2005. A rangy half back, he was often asked to stand much larger opponents. He won't be the only defender to depart the Dockers with Coach Ross Lyon already indicating that Zac Dawson won't be at the club in 2018.

Brent Stanton has played 255 games and has been a consistent and prolific ballwinner. He averaged more than 20 games for 10 consecutive seasons between 2006-15, but spent the second half of this year in the VFL. Stanton, 31, cane to the club via the 2013 draft as a 17 year old. He said that he walked into the club and was surrounded by such stars as Jame Hird, Scott Lucas and Matthew Lloyd. When asked about his durability, he said he always tried to look after himself, but also saw how the champion trio went about their training and tried to emulate them.

Stanton said he thought 2017 would be his last season soon after playing in the Bombers' win over Hawthorn in Round One. That win made him glad he returned from his year long ban due to the supplements saga and said he often contemplated retirement, "I have thought of it [retiring] ever since that day [when Essendon beat Hawthorn]. "It has been a tough decision because you always want to play for as long as you can, but at some point you have got to give it away and move on ... ".

At the media conference, he said, “I’m extremely grateful the club gave me an opportunity to play at the elite level, and I leave with plenty of fond memories, a great group of mates and 255 games alongside my name. I’ve learnt a lot about myself over the course of this season ... while I haven’t played as much senior football (he played six of the first seven games) as I would have liked, I’ve really enjoyed my time guiding and mentoring the young players in the VFL this season. I’ve always had a passion for coaching, and I now look forward to exploring the opportunity ... I’d like to thank all my teammates, coaches and Essendon staff for their support, guidance and friendship over the journey. I’d like to thank my close mate and manager Adam Ramanauskas, as well as Susan Harper at TLA for help and support over the past five years. Thanks also to the club’s members and supporters for your passion and commitment.

A testament to his durability is the fact that he came third in the club best and fairest count in 2005, 2008 and 2009. He placed second in 2011. His other honors include a Rising Star nomination in 2004 and the International Rules Series in 2006. He also finishes as the third highest possession gatherer for the club.

CEO, Xavier Campbell said Stanton was a hugely respected player who would be remembered as a great Essendon person, “On behalf of the entire Essendon family, I’d like to congratulate Brent on an incredible career and thank him for his loyalty and commitment ... More than 250 games, four podium finishes in the Crichton Medal (best and fairest), a regular member of the leadership group places him in the top echelon of players to pull on the red and black. Stants embodies what it means to be an Essendon player. Consistent, selfless, and a ruthless competitor. He’s incredibly loyal and very popular member of the playing group, and played an integral role ... through the past five years."

Coach John Worsfold,said Stanton’s experience has been invaluable, “Brent is a highly respected member of the playing group with a great football mind, and to play 255 senior games of football is a fantastic achievement, which takes enormous sacrifice and resilience. Stants’ work ethic and attitude is super impressive ... I know he is extremely driven to see the AFL and VFL sides achieve the success we all hope they can ... He is a fantastic role model for our young players ... I know he has had a huge impact on the VFL players this season, and really enjoyed his time mentoring them.“

Stanton is a key part of Essendon's VFL team that has qualified for finals this year. His interest in coaching will take a back seas for now while he takes a bit of time off to spend with his family. He also wants to work on his golf game in an attempt to get an edge on teammate and fellow golf aficionado Brendan Goddard.

He also recollected how then coach Kevin Sheedy told him he, in just his fourth game, was assigned to run with Brisbane star Nigel Lappin. He said it was a real lesson in how fit he had to be to make it at AFL level, describing the experience as "exhausting". He said Lappin "ran him ragged and joked "... I slept for two days afterward.”


Article last changed on Thursday, August 31, 2017 - 12:26 PM EDT

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