Just days after Round 20 concluded, three players announced their retirements - Collingwood's Chris Mayne, Eagle Dan Venables and Bulldog Lon Jong.
Defender Chris Mayne announced he would retire at the end of the season. in making the announcement, Mayne said, “The time is right, personally and professionally. From a family perspective, Britt and I have two young children and we want them to settle and share more time with our families in Perth. From a football perspective, I don’t feel that I can squeeze much more out of myself. I still love the game and want to continue trying to get a kick at some level next year but at the highest level I recognize it’s getting tougher, not easier.”
Mayne's 14-year career includes 172 games with Fremantle and at the end of the season, 75 for Collingwood. While at Fremantle, he was an accurate forward and played in the losing 2013 Grand Final team alongside the likes of Matthew Pavlich and Michael Walters. He crossed to Collingwood at the end of 2016 and reinvented himself as a wingman before becoming a defender. He again played in a Grand Final, but again it was a loss.
Mayne, 32, has been preparing for life after football. He will obtain a teaching degree next year, has a diploma in youth counseling, and has completed the AFL's Level Three coaching course as well as the AFL's list management course. Of his preparations, he said, “We all know the last match is coming. I didn’t want to be caught short or unprepared. I hope that I can pass on my experiences as a player, at two wonderful clubs, in some fashion. As I said, I still love the game."
Collingwood's GM of Football, Graham Wright, thanked Mayne and his family for the decision to uproot their lives in 2017 for a fresh start and for the team-oriented way in which Mayne ultimately vindicated that call, "Mayney leaves us with everyone wishing him, Britt and their children the very best. He gave all he had, and we can’t ask for more from any player.”
Premiership player Daniel Venables has been forced into premature retirement due to ongoing concussion issues. He has not played since the incident in Round Nine, 2019. An AFL medical panel recommended that he not play any contact sports. Venables, 22, was the youngest member of West Coast's 2018 premiership side and played only 21 games.
General Manager Craig Vozzo said, “It is terribly sad news for Daniel and the football club, but it is not a surprising outcome. He tried everything to recover and play again, but ultimately that will not be possible. Despite the ongoing battles, Daniel has remained upbeat and has been an important part of the squad and the club. Last year, when we were in the Queensland hub, he offered support in an off-field capacity. He has been a great club man and very popular teammate and while it is tragic that we will not see a wonderfully talented player impact the game as he could have, this decision is made in Daniel’s best interests and with our full support. He understands and accepts the situation, and I am sure that in some ways, Daniel is quite relieved to receive the medical recommendation. The club will continue to support him as he plans the next phase of his life.”
Venables, who continues his daily battle with symptoms, said after informing his teammates, “It’s hard talking to all of your mates. When I was practicing, I was alright, but when you get there it’s different. I’m sad, but I guess I’m relieved because the pressure’s off and now I can focus on my rehab. I’m not able to play again, so I can just concentrate on my health. It’s not until you sit back and reflect on the time that you understand how far you’ve come and the things you have had to go through. I feel like this has matured me as a person and it will help me in the future. It has been two-and-a-half years, I am a very realistic person and I understood it was going to be tough to get clearance to play. I am grateful for the opportunity I got to play in a Grand Final. It’s pretty hard to come by and I will always have that to hang my hat on. It will always connect me to the club.”
Midfielder Lin Jong has announced his retirement due to ongoing injuries. He has managed just 65 games in 10 seasons and played just three matches in 2020 due to an ankle injury. He played one game this year in Round Six but suffered a serious hamstring injury which has sidelined him since then. Since 2017, the luckless Jong suffered two broken collarbones, a broken jaw, an ACL tear, and a ruptured appendix.
Jong said, “For the past 10 years, I’ve been fortunate to play football at the highest level for the Western Bulldogs. I’ve come a long way as a person and a footballer in that time and I’m really proud of everything I’ve achieved. There have been some injury setbacks, but I wouldn’t have my journey any other way. I’m grateful to everyone who has supported me across the years - all my teammates and coaches, the medical staff, trainers and our Bulldogs fans. And to my family and close friends who have been with me every step of the journey. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season holds for us and am excited about stepping into the next chapter of my life.”
Although he missed the Bulldogs 2016 premiership - he was named an emergency player - due to a collarbone injury but did play in Footscray's VFL premiership that year and was named best on ground in that match.
Bulldogs head of football Chris Grant said Jong had "made a significant contribution” to the club, " Over the past decade, he has become a much-loved, highly respected member of our playing group and he will leave a legacy ... His football journey has been unique - and his pathway to becoming an AFL player was quite extraordinary in itself. As a player, Lin has been as tough and courageous as they come. He has, unfortunately, had more than his fair share of battles with injur[ies] ... but he will leave the game having done everything he could on and off the field to get the very best out of himself. Lin will always be welcome at our club and we’re looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for him.”
Sources: Stephen Rielly, Collingwood Media Release, Travis King, West Coast Media Release, foxosports.com.au, AFL Record Season Guides
Article last changed on Friday, September 10, 2021 - 9:51 PM EDT