Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
Ashley McGrath, the last Brisbane premiership player currently playing, announced his retirement ahead of the Lions' Round 22 match against Fremantle. Drafted in 2000, McGrath played 214 games in 14 seasons and kicked 170 goals. Perhaps his most memorable goal came in Round 13 last year in his 200th game and with the Lions 52 points down against Geelong in the third term. In what is the greatest comeback in the club's history, the Lions roared into life to cut the deficit. McGrath had the ball 50 meters (55 yards) from goal as the siren sounded. He coolly slotted the goal to give Brisbane an incredible victory.
McGrath is in an elite category among the 1400 plus players who played for Fitzroy and Brisbane as he is only the 26th person to play 200 games or more in the clubs' combined history. McGrath, 31, has been battling a calf injury for much of the season and said it was an easy decision. "I've been thinking about it all year, but it wasn't until the last month that I sat down with Leppa (Coach Justin Leppitsch) ... the group's moving forward and I was just finding it a bit tough to back up week to week. The game's sped up a bit. It's going to be pretty hard to knock out the 'Mozzie Squad', (with) Squizzy Taylor, Josh Green, (Dayne) Zorko and Crispy (Jack Crisp) coming through and then the big talls down forward - it's going to be hard to get a spot."
Lions' General Manager Football Operations, Dean Warren, said “Ash has been part of the fabric of our ... club for 14 years. He came ... as a 17-year-old and has grown up here. Ash’s longevity in the game is a testament to him as both a player and a person ... To have someone with that sort of experience ... is invaluable, and there is no doubt our young list has benefited immensely from having Ash around".
Coach Justin Leppitsch, who played alongside McGrath for six seasons, said the veteran had the ability to turn a game singlehandedly. "It is a sad day for the club in a lot of ways. He's been a terrific servant - 14 years at the club is amazing. Ash's ability to change direction, his goal sense, natural football ability, he's one of the best I've played with ... Ash could always turn a game. I think it's a great compliment for anyone that can go down (forward) and win a game for your team, and Ash had the ability to do that."
Source: afl.com.au, Clare Pettyfor, Brisbane Media Release
Fremantle utility player Kepler Bradley, who has spend the entire season playing in the WAFL, will retire at the end of the season. Bradley has not played a senior game since rupturing is ACL early last year. Bradley, 28, said his body could no longer cope with the rigors of AFL football. Following a full reconstruction, Bradley signed a one year deal to remain in 2014 but he has been plagued by recurring hamstring issues that are a direct result of the knee reconstruction. He has played 11 matches in the WAFL this season. In making the announcement, he said "I've tried to come back this year as soon as my body would let me, but I've done about five hamstrings on the way. Just with the pace of the game now, how fast it is, it looks like the game has gone past me. I played WAFL on the weekend and my body was a bit sore. That was the final nail in the coffin that it wasn't meant to be."
Bradley was originally drafted by Essendon in 2003 and played 49 games with the Bombers before joining Fremantle in 2008. He played a further 68 games with the Dockers. He could play ruck, forward and in defense. He plans to take several months off but would like to stay involved, saying he enjoyed working with the younger players at Peel Thunder.
Fremantle General Manager of Football Operations Chris Bond said everyone involved with the club will miss Bradley,. "Kepler leaves the club with a great deal of respect from the players and staff. His teammates have always enjoyed playing alongside him and we would like to thank him for his efforts and commitment to the team since he was drafted.”
Source: afl.com.au, Luke Morfesse, Fremantle Media Release
Article last changed on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 - 8:13 PM EDT