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Hibberd Handballs

As the season nears to a close, more clubs not in contention have made cuts to their lists and a few more players have announced their retirements.

ESSENDON
Ruckman Tom Bellchambers announced his retirement after 136 games and 77 goals. Persistent knee injuries restricted Bellchambers, 31, to just seven games this year. His retirement comes just as young gun Sam Draper became the first-choice ruckman with a stellar 2020 season. Bellchambers debuted in 2008 and played in almost every season since then. He was one of the many players suspended for the 2016 season due to the supplements saga.

Bellchambers said, "This club has been a huge part of my life ... I can genuinely say I have enjoyed all the ups and downs ... I've been lucky to live out my childhood dream and ... have created some amazing memories and friendships along the way that I will cherish forever. Physically, my body is telling me my time is up and I go out knowing that I couldn't have given any more ...".

Coach John Worsfold said, "Tom's been a loyal and wonderful player for the club over an extended period of time ... His contribution as a ruckman for our team can't be underestimated and for Tom to have played 13 seasons of AFL football is a credit to the way he's applied himself to the game."

Josh Begley, Noah Gown, Mitch Hibberd, Shaun McKernan and Kobe Mutch were delisted. Begley, 22, was drafted in 2016 and played 16 games and kicked 14 goals. Gown, 20, was drafted in 2018 and had an impressive first season in the VFL as a tall forward but a serious foot injury the following season kept hin from a senior debut. Hibberd, 24, was originally drafted by North Melbourne in 2015 but played just four games before being delisted at the end of 2018. He played for Williamstown in the VFL in 2019 and Essendon, needing some midfield strength, picked him up in last year's rookie draft. He managed just five games for the Bombers in 2020. Mutch, 22, played five games in three seasons. McKernan. 30. was drafted by Adelaide in 2009 and played 31 games as a forward and pinch hit ruckman. Delisted at the end of 2014, he joined Essendon as a rookie in 2015, was elevated to the senior list, then delisted and redrafted as a rookie in 2017.

Conor McKenna had previously announced his retirement to return to Ireland.

FREMANTLE
Delisted: Isaiah Butters, Jason Carter, Hugh Dixon, Brandon Matera, Cam McCarthy, Tom North, Dillon O'Reilly and Jarvis Pina

Butters, 19, was a Next Generation Academy player and drated last year as a Category B rookie but never played a senior game. Carter, 20, was also a NGA rookie draft selection in 2018. He was elevated to the seniors in 2019 but played just two games. In 2020, he was sanctioned by the club for a breach of COVID protocols and later caught on a DUI. He asked the club to release him from his contract.

Tasmanian Dixon, 21, was drafted in 2017. He bided his time in the WAFL, but ankle and hamstring injuries restricted him to nine games in 2018 and 13 in 2019. He finally got his chance at senior level in 2019, playing the final game of the year. He played just one more game in 2020. Matera, 20, is the nephew of former Eagles Peter and Phil Matera. He was an inaugural member of Gold Coast and played 101 games and kicked 124 goals for the Suns before being traded to the Dockers at the end of 2017. He played a further 48 games and kicked 46 goals for the Dockers. McCarthy, 25, was drafted by GWS in 2013 and played 21 games and kicked 36 goals. Homesickness saw him request a trade back to WA at the end of 2015 but GWS refused. He went home anyway but was forced to sit out the 2016 season. GWS relented at the end of the year and he joined the Dockers in 2017. He added 70 games and 99 goals to his tallies. North was drafted in 2017 then redrafted as a rookie in 2020. Despite solid form in the WAFL, he was unable to break into the seniors. O’Reilly, 20, is the son of former Fremantle, Carlton and Geelong defender Stephen O’Reilly. He was selected in the 2019 midseason rookie draft but could not break into the senior side. Pina, 19, was another rookie drafted in 2020 who could not get a senior game.

GOLD COAST
Retired: George Horlin-Smith and Anthony Miles
Delisted:Jacob Dawson, Corey Ellis, Sam Fletcher, Jacob Heron, Jesse Joyce, Mitch Riordan and Josh Schoenfeld

In late September, Horlin-Smith and Miles decided to retire. Horlin-Smith, 27, played 58 games in 10 seasons, 51 of those with the Cats. He was a member of Geelong's VFL premiership side in 2012 and was named best on ground. He won a Rising Star nomination in 2013. Joined the Suns for better opportunities at the end of 2018. He thanked both clubs for his career and acknowledged the staff of both clubs for their support.

Miles, 28, was an inaugural member of GWS and played 10 games 2012 to 2013. He was delisted and selected as a rookie by the Tigers where he played 51 games 2014 to 2018. Richmond traded him to the Suns at the end of 2018 and he played a further 27 games. He also thanked all those who gave him his chances at AFL level. Suns General Manager Jon Haines said of the duo, “George and Anthony have had a massive impact on the culture of the club and playing group and their influence on where we are today won’t be forgotten ... Their selfless and humble nature coupled with elite preparation and competitive instincts were exactly what this club required ...".

At the same time, the Suns announced the delistings. Ellis, 23, was a first round draft selection by Richmond in 2014. He played 27 games before being traded at the end of 2018. His first season with the Suns was marred by injury and he played just four games that year. He played no games in 2020. Fletcher was a 2019 Preseason SSP signing but struggled with injuries. He failed to play a senior game. Heron, 20, came out of the Gold Coast Academy and was rookie listed in 2018 but failed to play a senior game. Joyce, 23, is another Academy player drafted in 2016 and played 64 games. Riordan, 20, was selected in the 2019 midseason draft but missed the entire 2020 season after suffering an ACL rupture during the preseason. Schoenfeld was drafted in 2016 and played 15 games through 2019.

Pearce Hanley previously announced his retirement.

GWS
Retired: Sam Jacobs and Tom Sheridan
Delisted: Heath Shaw

Veteran ruckman Sam Jacobs announced his retirement when the season finished for the Giants. Jacobs, 32, was contracted through 2021 but decided to call it a day. Originally drafted by Carlton in 2007, Jacobs played 17 games for the Blues 2009 to 2010 before being traded to Adelaide where he added 184 games. He joined GWS for the 2020 season but played just seven games this year. He was nominated for All-Australian in 2012, 2014 and 2017. He was a member of Adelaide's preseason premiership team in 2012. Jacobs said, "With our second child due in November, it's time to put my family first and it just feels like the time is right ...'.

Tommy Sheridan, 26, always intended to retire at the end of the season to concentrate on his business ventures. Sheridan was drafted in 2007 by Fremantle and played 81 games before being traded to GWS at the end of 2018. Injuries savaged his two seasons with Giants and he managed jus two games in that time. Sheridan said, “It’s been a tough couple of years ... It’s been a great journey but I’ve been dealt a pretty horrendous deck of cards in the last couple of years with injury and COVID and a few other things ... I’ve probably run more FIFA tournaments than played games ... I will certainly miss the lads in the locker room as I’ve created some life long friendships at both clubs ... ". General Manager Jason McCartney said, “Unfortunately Tommy hasn’t been able to get a clear run with his body ... but his character and enthusiasm around the club has never waned ...".

Veteran defender Shaw was hoping to get a contract for one more season but it was not to be. Shaw, 34, said he is OK with the decision. Ahead of the 2019 Grand Final, he said he would retire if GWS won. He stuck around for 2020 for one last shot at a premiership. Shaw was a father-son selection by Collingwood in 2003 and played 173 games including the 2010 premiership win. He spent 10 years with the Pies before being traded to GWS where he has added 152 games. He was All-Australian in 2015 and 2016, GWS best and fairest in 2015 and won the Michael Tuck Medal as best on ground in Collingwood's 2011 preseason premiership win. Of his career, he said, “If you’d told me 10 years ago that I’d be a life member, a club champion and two-time All-Australian and played off in a grand final at a club that didn’t exist a decade ago, I would have ... said, ‘Tell ’em they’re dreaming ... ". GWS CEO David Matthews paid tribute, “The trade to bring Heath Shaw to the club ... has proven to be one of the most significant decisions in our club’s history. Heath came to the club at a time that we were crying out for experience and he has had a profound impact on our club ... “Not only has he delivered consistently on field, he has supported our AFLW team in their early years and has been integral in growing our club and the game more broadly with his personality and humor a favorite of AFL fans right across the country.” The Shaw family currently holds the all-time record for most combined games by family members. Ray (father of Heath and Rhyce, brother of Tony and Neville) played 146 games for Collingwood, Tony 313, Neville 43, Rhyce 237 for Collingwood and Sydney and Heath 325 for a total of 1064 games. Second on the list are the Abletts - Gary Sr and Jr, Geoff, Luke and Nathan with a combined total of 1046 ahead of the 2020 Semi-Final. If Gary Jr plays on in 2021, the Abletts could surpass the Shaws provided Ablett plays enough games..

MELBOURNE
Retired: Harley Bennell
Bennell was an inaugural member of Gold Coast and played 81 games and kicked 92 goals 2011 to 2016. He was disciplined dropped several times by the club in 2011. He had an excellent 2012 to finish second to Gary Ablett in the best and fairest count. In 2015, he was again disciplined by the club for breaking their alcohol ban. A 2013 photo was then published showing him preparing inhale a supposedly illegal substance. This came on the heels of a statement by former player Karmichael Hunt claiming a number of players were using cocaine. Another alcohol incident again saw him dropped and the Suns traded him to Fremantle. Bennell was then struck down by a series of soft tissue calf and hamstring injuries which restricted him to just two games. The club and Bennell finally found a surgeon who was able to do corrective surgery to solve the issues but he and the Dockers mutually parted ways at the end of 2019. He trained with several clubs before being picked up by Melbourne during the 2020 SSP. He played five games before being suspended and the club fined for breaching the COVID protocols. In late September, he basically admitted his career was over and retired. In 2013, he was selected for the Indigenous All-Stars team and won the Polly Farmer Medal as best on ground.

As previously reported, Kyle Dunkley, Corey Wagner and Josh Wagner were delisted.

Sources: afl.com.au, espn.com.au, news.com.au, theroar.com.au, AFL Record Season Guides

Article last changed on Friday, January 15, 2021 - 12:07 AM EST


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