Defender Liam Dawson has been delisted by Brisbane. Dawson, 22, played 18 games for the Lions in four years. He played only one game in the past two seasons but failed to add to that tally in 2018. Rohan Bewick, Claye Beams, Jake Barrett, Marco Paparone and Tom Bell have also been delisted while Cian Hanley has retired.
Bewick, the nephew of former Essendon 1993 and 2000 premiership player Darren, played 103 games for the Lions in eight seasons. Bewick, 28, celebrated his 100th AFL game milestone in 2017 and kicked 71 goals for the Lions throughout his career. In 2018,, he played three senior games.
Beams played 54 games and kicked 27 goals in eight seasons, but was hampered by injuries. Beams, 27, did not manage a senior game in 2017, but did win the 2018 NEAFL Best and Fairest Award (MVP). Bell joined the Lions in 2015 after four seasons with Carlton. He played 16 games in 2016 before needing knee surgery. Last year, he managed just six games. This season ended prematurely with another injury in the NEAFL. His only game this year was the opening round of the season. Paparone was drafted in 2012 and played 55 games as an athletic forward. He, too, has been restricted by injuries in the past three years. Barrett was drafted as a rookie in 2016 after three seasons with GWS. The midfielder played 17 senior games in his first year at the club. In 2018 he played five senior matches. General Manager of Football David Noble paid tribute to the players’ commitment during their time at the Lions, "All have contributed to the growth and improvement of our Club both on and off the field ... It is unfortunate to let great men go. We wish them well for what lies ahead in their future. The Club will continue to provide support and direction for the players in this transitional phase."
Carlton delisted senior players Aaron Mullett and Cameron O’Shea alongside rookie-listed players Matthew Shaw and Jesse Glass-McCasker. Mullett joined the Blues as a delisted free agent at the end of 2017, after 85 games with North Melbourne. Mullett, 26, played 13 games this season. O'Shea, Shaw, and Glass-McCasker were all drafted in 2017. O'Shea played 11 games in 2018 while Shaw played just two games and Glass-McCasker none.
Essendon has made another change to their list. Brendon Goddard and Jackson Merrett were recently delisted. Now Josh Green has also been cut. Green, 25, joined the Bombers from Brisbane and played 105 games with the two clubs and kicked 132 goals. A broken foot interrupted his 2017 season and this year he had hamstring issues which restricted him to just seven games. Coach John Worsfold said, "Josh was a very well-liked member of the playing group and he performed well ... showing leadership both on and off the field ... Unfortunately, he was curtailed by injuries at crucial times but always stayed positive."
Geelong has delisted six players: Stewart Crameri, Aaron Black, Ryan Gardner, Cory Gregson, Matthew Hayball, and Timm House. Crameri began his career with the Western Bulldogs, then joined Essendon as one of the "top-up" players [while dozen players caught in the supplements sage served their one year suspension]. He was then rookie listed by the Cats this year. A variety of injuries requiring surgery and groin issues restricted him to just four games, bringing his career total to 103 games. Gregson, 22, has also battled injury during his time with the Cats. Drafted in 2014, he played 20 games in 2015, bringing his total to 39. He was ruled out for the season in July after requiring a fourth surgery on the navicular bone in his foot. Key position players House, drafted in 2016, and Gardner, drafted in 2015, never played a senior game. Defender Hayball also failed to play a senior game, spending three years on the rookie list. He played 50 games for Casey in the VFL. Gardiner did play 52 games for the Geelong VFL team. Black, 28, was traded by North Melbourne at the end of 2016 but has managed only seven games in his two seasons with the Cats. Black suffered a season-ending knee injury in Round 10. He joined the Cats as a forward but was swung into defense when Harry Taylor and Lachie Hendersonn were sidelined with injuries. He played 50 games for the Kangaroos before being traded to the Cats.
A number of players are out of contract. Lincoln McCarthy is one of those players abut has requested to be traded; with Brisbane showing interest.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY
After GWS was defeated by Collingwood in the semifinal, midfielder Ryan Griffen announced his retirement. Griffen, 32, said he had discussed his future several times throughout the season with Coach Leon Cameron and pretty much knew it would be the end when the season finished, "It's a pretty emotional sort of decision ... it's shattering [that] we couldn't quite have the team success, but I just know it was my time to hang them up. I just think mentally the game's sort of got to me. I am slowing down a bit. These younger kids ... are fitter and stronger and faster and it does get harder."
Griffen, drafted by the Bulldogs in 2004, debuted in 2005, and played 205 games. He kicked 130 goals over 10 seasons. He was a Rising Star nominee, won two best and fairest awards, was All-Australian in 2013 and appointed captain in 2014. He was never comfortable with that role and decided he needed a change at the end of the year. His four seasons with the Giants have been injury ravaged with two ankle injuries restricting him to just three games in 2017. There was speculation Griffen's decision was based on an acrimonious relationship with then-coach Brendan McCartney, who was sacked a day after his trade was completed. He admitted at the time that it did play a part in his decision but also that he had fallen out of love with the game. "I don't have any regrets … I needed to change something in my life – and that was to move clubs." He said he had been close to his Bulldog teammates and he still loves his former club, "I had close relationships there, so I was happy when they won the flag. Obviously, that's probably going to be a bit of a dampener on my career, that I haven't won a flag ... but I've built relationships that will last a lifetime."
Cameron paid tribute to Griffen's contribution to the Giants and called him a "wonderful warrior ... I know on the field Ryan will always be looked upon as a fantastic player at the Bulldogs ... He probably didn't reach those heights at the Giants, but what he did do off the field was teach our young fellas what AFL footy is about ... he's had a fantastic career.".Griffen plans to spend at least a year away from the sport to travel and relax before figuring out his long-term future. As for GWS, Griffen believe success in not far away, "There's so much belief within the group. We've shown so much resilience ... with the injuries we've had ... they're doing the right things and I said to them ... success is just around the corner and I think they know that."
Former Carlton player and senior coach Brett Ratten will leave his position as an assistant coach at Hawthorn to join the Saints. Ratten has been an assistant at the Hawks for six seasons which has seen him involved in three premierships.
Just as the Demons were preparing to face the Hawks in an Elimination Final, veteran midfielder Bernie Vince informed them that he would retire at the end of the season. Vince injured his shoulder in Round 21. It required surgery and he and missed the remainder of the year. He was playing in the VFL and was hoping for a recall to the seniors for the finals but that did not eventuate.
Vince was originally drafted by Adelaide in 2005. He went on to play 129 games for the Crows, winning the club's best and fairest award in 2009 and playing in the International Rules Series. Vince was contracted with the Crows through 2014, but Adelaide was not willing to offer him a long term deal so he was traded to Melbourne where he signed a four year contract. Vince provided great service as the club was rebuilding under then coach Paul Roos. He played 100 games with the Demons and won the club's best and fairest award in 2015.
Demons' football manager Josh Mahoney said Vince delivered more than the club imagined he might, playing a variety of roles in the midfield, as a run-with player and out of defense. Mahoney said, " ... we knew parts of what we were getting – a very talented footballer ... What he has brought is his competitiveness – he’s competitive with everything he does ... The balance that he brings with his competitiveness is his off-field [traits] and that’s probably the reason why he’s not only been embraced by his teammates, but by all Melbourne fans."
The club delisted Mitchell Hibberd, Hibberd, 22, could not break into the senior side this year after four games last season. Originally from Tasmania, Hibberd was drafted in 2015.
The notable departure is club stalwart Sam Gilbert, who was told he would not be offered another contract. Gilbert played 208 games in a career spanning 13 seasons. Renowned for his selfless approach, fierce attack on the ball and the opposition, his versatility, courage and unique ability to side-step opponents. The defender delivered his best on the big occasions. Gilbert was named among the Saints’ best in both Grand Finals in 2010, helping turn the drawn first game with a brilliant third quarter. GIlbert said he was proud to have been a Saint for his entire career, “I want to thank the club for the opportunity to play at the highest level, and for helping shape the person I am today ... I have been privileged to be part of the club for the past 13 years, and I’ve loved every minute of it. I owe a lot to my coaches, teammates and the St Kilda staff and supporters, and thank them for their friendship and support. I also want to thank my family for their incredible support, in particular my wife Georgie and my new baby boy Oscar ... ". GIlbert will take some time off to consider the step in his future. Senior Coach Alan Richardson described Gilbert as one of the most selfless players he has ever coached, "Sam always put the team first. I haven’t coached a player who so regularly put their body on the line for their teammates more than him. He has been an incredibly versatile and reliable player ... but it was his physicality that St Kilda sides have benefited from ... Even through my discussions with him about our plans for next year, he always spoke about what he could do to help the team and the club. It was never about him.” Richardson also said it was time that the younger defenders step up and take on some of Gilbert's qualities.
Also delisted are Nathan Freeman, Nathan Wright, Hugh Goddard, and Ray Connellan. Wright was drafted in 2012 and played 35 games. He managed just two games this year due to a knee injury. Goddard was drafted in 2014 but has had a horror run with injuries which restricted him to just 10 games. Connellan joined the Saints as an international rookie from Ireland in 2017 but never played any senior games. General Manager of Football Simon Lethlean thanked all four players for their contributions, “Nathan’s [Freeman] journey has obviously been well-documented, and it was a really proud moment for everyone involved in his career to see him debut this year. He has left no stone unturned to overcome persistent hamstring issues, and his positive influence on the group despite his injuries is testament to his character ... Hugh is another who has showed great resilience after two serious injuries, and who leaves ... highly respected for his professionalism and commitment ... to the club ... Nathan [Wright] really set the standard at the club for selfless, team-first football, while Ray has given everything over the past two seasons to make the step from Gaelic football ...". Connellan has not given up on his AFL dream. Before returning to Ireland, St KIlda staff members helped the speedy midfielder/forward send videos to other clubs. Regardless of what happens, Connellan is thankful he received an opportunity, "Obviously I'm delighted St Kilda even gave me the chance ... They've been absolutely amazing. They've helped me grow so much as an athlete and as a person ... they couldn't have supported me any more. Tony Brown, the player development manager there, I've never seen anyone work so hard or care so much for a person." If it doesn't happen though, Connellan will still be happy, "At the end of the day, no one's died, so it's not the worst thing ... I'll be happy no matter what happens but I'd prefer to fulfill all my potential over here ...".
The Sydney Swans have made the difficult decision to delist Alex Johnson. After almost six years on sidelines due to 12 knee surgeries including five reconstructions and seven more operations due to various complications, Johnson finally made it back for his first senior game in Round 20 this year. The Swans defeated Collingwood and Johnson got through the game unscathed. However, the following week against Melbourne, his good right knee buckled in an innocuous passage of play just four minutes into the first quarter. While the club discussed the possibility of a non-playing role next year, Johnson is keen to explore other opportunities and has not given up a return to playing. Coach John Longmire praised Johnson for the impact he had, "Alex has been an incredible servant of our club. He has shown unbelievable resilience and he’s a much-admired player among his teammates, coaches, staff and wider AFL community. Alex’s perseverance and strength is among the best I’ve seen ... and it was a real credit to him that he was able to fight his way back ... after so many setbacks." Johnson said he leaves with mixed emotions and thanked the club for his opportunities and sticking with him over the years, “I have made life-long friends and lived out my childhood dream of playing AFL, including the premiership in 2012 [his last senior game before the knee injuries]".
Dan Hannebery and Gary Rohan have both requested trades back home to Melbourne with Hannebery nominating St Kilda as his preferred destination. Hennebery has been with the Swans since 2009 and Rohan since 2010.
Sydney assistant coach Rhyce Shaw has left the club to return home to Melbourne. He has joined North Melbourne as an assistant. Shaw began his playing career at Collingwood where he played 94 games from 2000 to 2008. He was traded to Sydney where he played a further 143 games including the 2012 premiership.
Eagle full back Eric Mackenzie has been forced to retire due to stress fractures in his toes. He has been battling chronic problems with his feet for the past two years and was unable to play any games this year. In an emotional press conference. Mackenzie, 30, said he had to "... put the health before playing football ... My feet have given me a lot of grief. I've been in pain for the last two years, so it's a chance to actually let them heal ... Hopefully not being on my feet all day every day will actually give them a chance to heal." Just as the Eagles were preparing to meet Collingwood in the Qualifying Final, Mackenzie had scans on his feet. The scans showed no improvement and he said there was no guarantee his feet would ever completely heal and that it is something he would probably have to live with. Doctors are still unsure what caused his problems, and short of fusing his toes there is nothing more they can do. "We've tried everything. The docs here have been great at exploring all the different options. Nothing seems to have worked."
Mackenzie played 147 games; just three shy of life membership. His last on field play came just one year ago. It was the epic extra-time Elimination Final against Port Adelaide. In an heroic match-saving collision with a behind post, he avoided rushing a score which helped the Eagles win the game. In talking about that passage of play, he said, "It's probably something now I can reflect on a lot more. I didn't want that to be my last act on a footy field, but it kind of ended up that was the way it was. It's something I can look back on with a lot of pride. I'd like to think that's how I will be remembered, just doing what I could for the team."
Mackenzie won the John Worsfold Medal in Coach Adam Simpson's first season, was named All-Australian for the second time, and was recognized as one of the best defenders in the competition. He counts Lance Franklin and Matthew Pavlich as two of his toughest opponents. After his stellar 2014, he ruptured an ACL during the 2015 preseason and missed the 2015 Grand Final. He said he would use the disappointment of that year to help sidelined teammates Nic Naitanui (ACL), Andrew Gaff (suspended) and Brad Sheppard (hamstring) handle their disappointment.
Of Mackenzie, Coach Simpson said, "It was just 'Who is the best player? 'Ezy', can you take care of that and we'll worry about the rest of the team. I didn't take it for granted, but it was such a pleasing thing to have. No doubt he's in our best 18 if he's fit and available."
Key forward Jack Redpath, 27, has been forced to retire due to a degenerative knee injury. Redpath was contracted through 2019. He said it was the hardest decision he's ever had to make but he knew the end was coming after being ruled out for the year after Round four. He's had a wretched run with injury since being drafted. Coach Luke Beveridge said it was sad to see Redpath, who played in the 2014 VFL premiership with Footscray, finish his career in such a manner, "Jack is a much-loved and admired teammate and club person. He has been a fine example for others to follow ... We all admire him for fighting through the many setbacks he faced with his body during his career and his determination to overcome adversity to be there for his teammates. It's very unfortunate that we weren't able to see the best of Jack on a consistent basis, because he had the ability to be one of the dominant forwards in the competition."
Sources: Club Media Releases - Josie Fielding (Brisbane), Stacey Oates (Geelong), Clair White (St Kilda), Chelsea Collins (Hawthorn), Karla Zanardo (North Melbourne), afl.com.au, sen.com.au, AFL Record Season Guides
Article last changed on Monday, September 24, 2018 - 7:53 PM EDT