by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFAANA from Chicago
St Kilda veteran Sean Dempster announced his retirement in April, citing concerns for his health due to concussion issues. He did not play any senior games in 2017, ending his career on 222 games with Sydney and the Saints. At the time, there was some media speculation about why he was not selected for the Round One match in March. The club put it down to a lack of form, but it later turned out that Dempster, 33, was seeking medical consultation. However, the media rumor mill reported that Dempster was upset at not being selected and that there was animosity between him and the club. Melbourne legend and current SEN presenter Garry Lyon called for Dempster to be stood down when it was suggested he didn’t play in a VFL practice match because he was unhappy at not playing in St Kilda’s season-opener.
Dempster, who describes himself as a quiet person, clarified the situation and took a swipe at his critics, "It wasn't what's been reported ... that I was upset with the club ... For my character to be questioned was a bit upsetting for me, it was a little bit hard to deal with. I felt like I had to ... address the situation earlier than I planned."
Dempster has suffered a series of head knocks during his career, the latest being in a preseason match this year in an incident involving Port Adelaide's Nathan Krakouer, after which the Power player was suspended. Dempster decided the risk was to great to continue playing, “ ... given my history ... of ... quite a few head knocks I’ve decided that it’s a risk that’s too great ... Especially now that I’ve got a young family, it’s more than just worrying about myself, it’s what it means to my wife and my young daughter. It was purely a decision for me and my family and it's the way I've decided to go and I'm pretty comfortable with my decision."
Dempster began his career with Sydney and was a key member of their defense in the 2005 Grand Final. After 68 games with the Swans, he along with Adam Schneider, crossed to St Kilda at the end of 2007. He thanked the Saints for the opportunity they gave him, "“I’ll be forever grateful for St Kilda. I spent the first few years of my career at the Swans as very much a fringe player. The opportunity St Kilda has given me to grow as a footballer has been enormous. I don’t think my career would have been half as long if it wasn’t for my move down here. Football has been something great and the club has given me the opportunity over 10 years to contribute to something great. I’ll be forever grateful, I’ve met some wonderful people, had some wonderful opportunities. We’ve played in a few grand finals, unfortunately we didn’t get the results ... but the friendships and bonds you build over those periods you’re quite successful and you play a lot of football together is something I’ll cherish forever.”
Dempster is the last remaining member of Sydney’s 2005 premiership side to hang up the boots. He played five Grand Finals: 2005, 2006 (Sydney lost to West Coast), 2009 (loss to Geelong) and the two 2010 Grand Finals (first game tied, second lost to Collingwood).
He is contracted through 2017 and will remain on St Kilda's list until the end of the year. At that time, he will be officially delisted.Source: theage.com.au, ed.note
Article last changed on Monday, July 17, 2017 - 2:31 AM EDT