Just ahead or Round 22, giant Docker ruckman Aaron Sandilands, 36, announced that 2019 would be his final season. His farewell game to fans will be Round 22 against Essendon. He was drafted in 2002 and holds the record for hitouts with 8,466 in 270 games, averaging 28 per game. Sandilands has battled calf injuries this year and has played just five games ahead of Round 22. He will place third on the Dockers' games list behind Matthew Pavlich (353), and David Mundy (314 through Round 21).
A member of the club's leadership group for the past 10 years, he has also been a key driver behind the club's Starlight Foundation, which raises money for seriously ill children and their families. He has been an ambassador for Starlight Purple Haze Game since 2007. In that time, he has helped raise over $1.5 million for the foundation.
Although his form suggests he could go on, he decided to retire due to the calf injury which has hampered him this year, “It’s all over ... It’s ... been a good journey but it’s my time to hang up the boots ... It’s been a really frustrating year in terms of not being able to play enough footy. The body is at the point now where I can’t get enough kilometers in the legs to be fit enough.” Sandilands said part of his motivation to return for the second half of the season was to have the chance to show his appreciation to the fans and those who have supported him along the way. As he said, "fan support makes you feel alive". Of the Round 22 game, he said it was going to more about the fans and being able to thank them one more time for their support over the years.
Football Manager Peter Bell, who played along side Sandilands during his own career, said, "It’s safe to say that the AFL will never see another player like Aaron. Aaron has the uncanny ability to make the difficult look easy, but no one worked harder ... to be at his fittest and strongest ... He is the model of what it means to be a Fremantle Docker. His work off the field to mentor our younger players has been second-to-none. He is often the first to put his hand up to host our first-year players when they arrive ... and he was a key off-field mentor for Next Generation Academy signing Jason Carter, who recently made his debut for the club ... his contribution will be felt for many years to come.”
Sandilands was named All-Australian in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2014. He won two Doig Medals (club best and fairest) in 2009 and 2015. Earlier this year, Fremantle supporters voted for their best 25 since 1995 (when the club entered the AFL) and Sandilands earned more votes than any other player to be named in the ruck.
Source: Luke Morfesse, Fremantle Media Release
Article last changed on Thursday, August 15, 2019 - 12:42 AM EDT