by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
At the conclusion of Round 23, four more players announced that 2017 would be their last season: veteran Cat defenders Andrew Mackie and Tom Lonergan, Kangaroo Lachie Hansen and Kangaroo veteran turned West Coast rookie Drew Petrie. The Cats and Eagles still have a finals campaign to navigate in September.A few days later, Saint stalwart Leigh Montagna also announced his retirement.LONERGAN AND MACKIE
Geelong had just defeated GWS at their home ground and the players were still on the field when Mackie and Lonergan told their teammates of their decision. The pair then walked around the ground to thank the Geelong fans before being applauded down the race. Lonergan said he and Mackie wanted to keep the announcement low key in the week leading up to the game so they and their teammates could focus on getting the win, "“It was a big game for us so we didn't want to make it about us ... We just wanted to worry about getting a win.”
It was the 184th game the duo had played together and 11 years to the day since Lonergan had lost a kidney in a collision with a Melbourne Demon opponent in 2006. It was just his seventh career game. To date, he has played 207 games. Lonergan, 33, said he and Mackie, also 33, had discussed retiring and said he had decided when he learned of Hawthorn's Luke Hodge announcing his retirement. Both agreed that it was the right time to bow out. Both players were drafted in 2002 and Mackie has played 277 games to date.
Coach Chris Scott has great respect for the duo and said the way they made their announcement, in keeping it low-key, showed quality of their character, "There is no one in the game I respect more ... They give to the team, they help their teammates, they sacrifice their own interests if it is necessary for the betterment of not just the team itself but the football club."
TOM LONGERGAN HONORS
Preseason premierships 2006 and 2009
All-Australian nominee 2012 and 2014
ANDREW MACKIE HONORS
Rising Star nominee 2004
Preseason premierships 2006 and 2009
All-Australian nominee 2006 and 2009
Premierships 2007, 2009, and 20211
Third in best and fairest count 2013
Out of favor North Melbourne defender Lachie Hansen decided to retire when he was told that he would not be offered a new contract as the club wants to develop young defenders Daniel Nielson, Sam Durdin and Ben McKay. Hansen, 28, was drafted in 2006 and played 151 games including 13 this year. He debuted in 2007 and played just three games, one of those being a semi-final win against the Hawks. He took time to develop and was thrown all over the ground in the early part of his career. He played mainly in defense during his junior days, but was moved to the forward line at the Kangaroos in 2010 when Drew Petrie was injured. In 2012, he teamed well as part of a three-pronged attack with Petrie and Robbie Tarrant. He finally settled back in defense in 2013 and became one of the best intercept marks (catching the ball in defense) in the competition. He had great endurance, had a great leap and could also play as a tall forward when required. Former coach Dean Laidley described Hansen as "just about the complete package".
In 2013, Hansen averaged 7.8 marks a game (fifth in the AFL) , was equal 15th for total contested marks (33) and placed eighth in that year's North best and fairest count. In 2014, he was equally solid with 7.3 marks per game, third for marks (21) and fifth in 2015 (21).
He broght up his 150th game earlier this season and said at the time that the six finals matches he player were the highlights of his career. He particularly remembers the 2015 Elimination Final against Richmond, remarking how loud the Tiger fans were when singing the team song just before the game started. He also recalled getting worried when Richmond kicked the first goals, "I thought, ‘Oh, no', but then we got composed and after half-time it was so fun. The feeling after that game was unbelievable because I didn't get to play the year before against Essendon and Geelong.” A run of injuries, a concussion and a lack of form restricted him to just five games last year. He played the first 12 games in 2017 and his 150th is one he would probably prefer to forget - an error riddled performance against St Kilda in Round 13 after which he was dropped and did not make another senior appearance until the Round 23 win over Brisbane.
Coach Brad Scott praised Hansen's contribution to the club, "Lachy quickly forged a reputation as an excellent intercept mark ... and formed a solid backline alongside the likes of Robbie Tarrant, Michael Firrito and Scott Thompson. Lachy has been a delight to coach and has been one of the most dynamic, versatile players in the league. His ability to play forward or back for us was a tremendous asset ... He'll be sorely missed ... and was one of those unique characters. His ability to keep morale up, during this year in particular, was first class.” Scott also said Hansen’s laid back nature and casual attitude toward life made him an immensely popular teammate and fan favorite.
The Round 23 game at Domain Stadium in Perth was the last at the ground as the Eagles will be taking up residence at a new ground next year. As well as farewelling Domain, the Eagles were also seeing three champions playing their last game at the ground in Matt Priddis, Sam Mitchell and Drew Petrie. While the impending retirement of Mitchell and Priddis had already been known, Coach Adam Simpson announced Petrie's decision to the crowd during an on-field address. Simpson said that Petrie was going to make an announcement during the week, but felt that Petrie deserved a proper send off from West Coast fans,
Petrie, 34, has played 330 games through Round 23 and although he was rookie-listed by the Eagles after being cut by North Melbourne at the end of last year, he managed 14 games due to the knee injuries to Nic Naitanui and Scott Lycett. Like the Cats, the Eagles are not done yet as they also are in the finals. He received a standing ovation from the 40,000 strong crowd as the Eagles defeated Adelaide.
It is believed that Petrie will remain with the club to help with the development of a women's team and a reserves team.
For the record, the Eagles won 199 games from 299 played at Domain.
HONORS (all with North Melbourne)
Second best and fairest 2008
third best and fairest 2011
All-Australian nominee 2008
International Rules 2008,
Club leading goalkicker 2009, 2011,2012, 2014, 2016
St Kilda champion Leigh ‘Joey’ Montagna has announced his retirement mid-week after Round 23. Montagna, 3, played 287 games over 16 seasons. He said he was humbled by the opportunity to play out his career with Saints, “For the past sixteen years, St Kilda has been my home and I couldn’t be more grateful ... to play out my career as a one club player. I want to thank my friends and family, in particular my parents and wife Erinn for their unconditional support.
To his past and present teammates, he said it had been an honor to " ... share the field and the changerooms with you and I will cherish the many life-long friendships I have made." He thanked the coaching and medical staffs for helping him along the way to be the best he could. He then paid tribute to the fans for their support over the years.
Montagna said he would leave the game content knowing he had given everything he could, “As I wasn’t a chance to play again this season there was no rush in making a decision. I wanted to take my time and weigh up my options ... If this club is to achieve what we are striving for, I feel the time is right for me to step aside and provide more opportunity to our younger players ... ". His last game came in Round 18 when he suffered a serious hamstring injury. He also did not want to take away from Nick Riewoldt's moment. He said he had probably known for several weeks that this was the end, but he was waiting and hoping for another chance to play finals. He said he took his time to weigh up all his options and make sure it was the right decision and he would not have any regrets.
Montagna was another member of the famous Class of 2001 draft which also saw Luke Hodge and Chris Judd drafted.He was known for his consistency, poise and class through the midfield. He spent the last years of his career as a running defender. That consistency saw him finish in the top 10 of the best and fairest count nine times in the past 10 years.
Coach Alan Richardson said Montagna was player of immense ability and character, "Composed, skillful and incredibly consistent, Joey’s record speaks for itself. But what he added in terms of leadership and the ability to communicate with his teammates was what set him apart ... His understanding of the game was matched only by his skill at being able to provide the right message at the right time to teammates and coaches on and off the field. His impact on St Kilda over the past 16 years has been enormous, as has his role in the development of the current group. The standards he set for consistency will continue to drive our club forward for many years to come.”
Club CEO Matt Finnis said Montagna’s contribution to the club went far beyond the football field, "Joey, like his great mate Nick Riewoldt, is much more than just a St Kilda champion. He has long been a club and football ambassador ... I first met Joey through the AFL Players’ Association where he made a significant contribution as first a club delegate and then as a board member. He has not only been a much loved figure at St Kilda but someone widely respected by his peers and the broader football community."
”Montagna intends to stay involved in football in some capacity. He has already done some work calling games on Melbourne's Triple M radio station. He is a self-confessed footy "nuffie" who watches lots of games, “I certainly won’t be lost to football ... the hardest part for me is I just love footy, I love everything about it ... if I can’t play, the next best thing is to talk about it and be involved ... I’m looking forward to that ... ".
Rising Star nominee 2003
Seventh on the list for games played at St Kilda
2nd best and fairest 2010, 2012
3rd best and fairest 2007, 2009, 2013
All-Australian: 2009, 2010
International Rules Series: 2008, 2014, 2015
Preseason premiership: 2004, 2008
Source: afl.com.au, theage.com.au, Heath O'Loughlin, North Melbourne Media Release, AFL Record Season Guide
Article last changed on Thursday, August 31, 2017 - 12:28 PM EDT