Two days after Melbourne's Grand Final victory, it was back to business for the club with three players being delisted, one retiring and another deciding to look for better opportunities elsewhere. Jay Lockhart, Aaron Nietschke and Austin Bradtke were delisted, while Aaron vandenBerg will seek opportunities elsewhere and Neville Jetta announced his retirement. Lockhart played twenty-two games since joining the club as a preseason supplemental selection in 2019. Bradtke and Nietschke never played a senior game with the latter suffering three ACL injuries in his time at the club, vandenBerg played 51 games for the club.
Stories related to player retirements
Demon champion Nathan Jones announced his retirement less than two weeks before the Grand Final. He informed his teammates via Zoom after leaving the club's hub in Perth to return home to be by his wife's side as she gave birth to twins. He flew out Saturday and made it just hours before she gave birth. Jones, 33, has not played a senior game since Round 14. He was an unused sub for Round 15 but was not recalled since. With West Australia's tight border restrictions, it was unlikely he would be allowed back across the border for the Grand Final. His career finishes with 101 wins, 198 defeats, and three draws. He kicked 141 goals in his 302 games. He was a Rising Star nominee in 2006 and 2007 and won the club best and fairest 2012, 2013, and 2014. He was co-captain in 2014 and 2017-19 and captain in 2015 and 2016.
A few days after the Semi-finals, West Coast announced three departures. Mark Hutchings and Brendon Ah Chee were delisted and ruckman Nathan Vardy retired. Hutchings, 30, played 120 games in nine seasons. He was a member of the 2018 Grand Final and played a key role in the game, shutting down Magpie star Steele Sidebottom.
Ah Chee, 27, was originally drafted by Port Adelaide in 2011 and played 27 games with the Power before being traded to the Eagles at the end of 2017. He was delisted and re-rookie listed by the Eagles at the end of 2019. He played 28 games for the Eagles. Vardy, 30, was drafted by Geelong in 2011 and played 25 games for the Cats before being traded to the Eagles at the end of 2016 and played 52 games including the 2018 premiership.
North Melbourne has delisted Taylor Garner, Dom Tyson, Will Walker, and Connor Menadue. Garner was drafted in 2012 and played 49 games. Tyson was originally drafted in 2011 by GWS and played 13 games before being traded to Melbourne at the end of 2013. He played 94 games for the Demons but was traded to North at the end of 2017. He managed just five games for the club. Walker was drafted in 2017 and played six games. Menadue was originally drafted by Richmond in 2014 and played 39 games. Unable to cement his place in the strong Tiger side, Menadue was delisted at the end of 2019. He signed with VFL club Werribee for the 2020 season but ended up sitting out the year when the VFL season was canceled due to COVID. He was picked up by North in the rookie draft and played seven games.
Young forward Tyson Stengle, 23, has officially been delisted. He was originally drafted by Richmond in the 2017 rookie draft and played two games before being traded to Adelaide at the end of 2018. However, he has had several off-field indiscretions. He was originally stood down last December but was officially stood down from the club this past March and has been playing with Woodville-West Torrens since. The Adelaide Crows released a statement confirming that the player and club had come to an agreement to end Stengle's employment. Stengle kicked 15 goals in 16 games for the Crows.
Gold Coast quartet Jack Hombsch, Jordan Murdoch, Jarrod Harbrow and Zac Smith have all announced their retirements. Hombsch and Murdoch played for the Suns for three seasons. Hombsch played just 18 games for the Suns after stints with GWS and Port Adelaide. Hombsch said, “It’s something that’s been in the works a little bit this season, but I feel pretty comfortable with the decision. Playing for three clubs I’m pretty grateful for because you just meet so many good people along the way ... I’ll certainly miss the footy club and I’ll miss playing AFL because it’s one of the best jobs going around.”
Murdoch started with Geelong before joining Gold Coast and played 110 games across 10 seasons. Murdoch said, “I feel I’m ready to begin the next step in my life. My wife Emma has followed me for 10 years and I think it’s time I take a back seat and let her follow her dreams. She’s been right there and incredible support for me throughout my career ... My highlights have been to see the development of the young guys at the club and chip in with bits and pieces that I’ve learned along the way and just try to help them.”
Adelaide defender Daniel Talia was told he will not receive a new contract. An off-season knee injury that required surgery and a foot injury shortly after - also requiring surgery kept him sidelined for the entire season. He also suffered some setbacks during his rehabilitation.
Talia, 29, was drafted in 2009 and played 200 games. He won All-Australian selection twice and has been a stalwart in the Adelaide defense. Other honors are the Rising Star award in 2012, the club's best and fairest in 2014, and was a member of the leadership group.
Hawthorn champion Shaun Burgoyne has retired. The game against Richmond in Round 23 was his 407th. He advised his teammates earlier in the week leading up to that game. In early July, he became just the fifth player in league history to notch 400 games. His match tally is the most of any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander player in AFL history. Burgoyne was originally drafted by Port Adelaide in 2000 and debuted in 2002. He played 157 games with Port before crossing to Hawthorn at the end of 2009.
Head of Football Rob McCartney praised Burgoyne for his work both on and off the field, “I know I speak on behalf of anyone and everyone that has crossed paths with Shaun over his football journey in saying that it has been an honor to work alongside a man of his character and skill. He is the epitome of what we value at Hawthorn, with his immense commitment to family values whilst also possessing a relentlessness to constantly strive to get the best out of himself as well as those around him ...".
Eddie Betts played his 350th and final game in Round 23. It came after several weeks of discussions between him and the club with the club saying they would not be offering him a new contract. The announcement was made ahead of the final game of the year to give fans a chance to celebrate an amazing career and farewell (arguably) the most likable player and person to grace the game.
Betts was selected in the 2004 Preseason Draft and debuted in 2005. With his innate ability to kick impossible goals and create something out of nothing, he quickly became a fan favorite. He will go down in league history as one of the best - if not the best - small forward.
Veteran Carlton midfielder Marc Murphy will play his 300th and final game against Port Adelaide in Round 22. Murphy, 34, made the announcement just after Round 21 concluded. Murphy said, "It has been an up-and-down 16 years. I would have loved to have won a premiership and had some success ... but unfortunately, it's not part of my story. I know there's a lot of (future) premiership players ... at this footy club and I'll be watching as a supporter and lapping it up pretty soon hopefully."