Three more veteran players joined this year's group of retired players. Matt de Boer, Ben McEvoy, and Sydney's Josh Kennedy. Just ahead of Round 22, GWS midfielder Matt de Boer, 32, announced his immediate retirement due to the lingering effects of a concussion he suffered in mid-June. He ends his career on 223 games, 138 of which were played for the Dockers before he joined GWS. It was at GWS he cemented his reputation as one of the game's most effective taggers. He was a crucial part of the teams that made it to the finals, including the 2019 Grand Final loss to Richmond.
In making the announcement, de Boer said, The Giants ... and its people is truly a special place ... “My heart is unequivocally full of gratitude and love for the friendships, memories and opportunities that playing in the AFL has availed me. “I’d particularly like to thank Leon Cameron for believing in me and challenging me always to be the best version of myself. I’d also like to thank the Fremantle Dockers for first recruiting me...".
Coach Mark McVeigh said, “It was emotional for him ... and the playing group and staff, because he’s a very loved member of our football club and has gotten the best out of himself every day. He never whinged, never complained, was a great support for players, staff and coaches, and was a genuinely hard worker and really good person who is going places in the future. I don’t think it’ll be the last we hear of Matt de Boer. He’s an outstanding character.”
Giants GM Jason McCartney said de Boer had made a significant contribution to GWS, "Matt is the ultimate clubman and epitomizes everything you want in a leader. He's diligent and resilient and got the most out of himself as a footballer, while contributing enormously to team standards and culture. Most ... players never reach 200 AFL games and Matt's career is a testament to his hard work, sacrifice and relentless pursuit of excellence."
Hawthorn ruckman Ben McEvoy played his 250th game in Round 21, then announced 2022 would be his last season. McEvoy, 33, was drafted by St Kilda in 2007 and played 91 games before crossing to Hawthorn at the end of 2013. Highly regarded as one of the most courageous players, McEvoy quickly established himself and became a fan favorite as well as a respected teammate. He was appointed captain ahead of the 2021 season.
McEvoy said, “It’s been a hell of a ride but it’s time for me to hang the boots up. It’s not been easy but I am really content that it’s my time to finish up. It’s not like I am getting pushed out the door by any stretch. I just feel like the time is right for me and the petrol tank is about on empty and I don’t think it would be fair to you guys or anyone else to be here if I feel like I can’t pull enough weight. I have an enormous amount to be grateful for across my whole journey. Football can be a selfish existence at times, and I am incredibly thankful for the unconditional support I have had from my family. I also want to thank my teammates, coaches, fitness staff, volunteers and supporters, who have all contributed to me being able to perform at my best. I feel very privileged to have played out the career I have and still pinch myself as to how fortunate I have been.”
Very fortunate considering he overcame a broken neck, suffered during the preseason, to reach his milestone game. He spent more than 14 weeks on the sidelines completing a meticulous rehabilitation program to make a successful comeback in Round 17. He retires as a two-time premiership player (2014 and 2015).
Sydney Swans midfielder Josh Kennedy will also retire at the end of the season. No relation to retired Eagle forward Josh, he is the grandson of Hawthorn legend John Kennedy. Kennedy, 34, was a father-son selection by the Hawks in 2008. He played 13 games for the Hawks before being traded to Sydney at the end of 2009.
Kennedy, with his wife and children by his side, he told his teammates and said, "It is with a heavy heart but a whole lot of gratitude that I make this announcement today. I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone at the club. The overarching sentiment I want to leave is one of gratitude - I am grateful to Alistair Clarkson and Hawthorn for the opportunity, and to the Sydney Swans for believing in me. I'm eternally grateful to the football club, the players past and present, the support staff that make the club great ... and of course all the fans and supporters ... who have supported me and the team and made me feel very special to belong to such a great club."
Coach John Longmire paid tribute to Kennedy, describing him as the ultimate big-game player, "On behalf of the footy club I just want to thank Josh for what he has contributed ... over the past 13 years. He's been a significant contributor for such a long period of time. One of the things we said to the players was you probably don't understand how much of a champion has been running beside you at training, preparing in the gym and sitting next to you in meetings, because he's so humble. That's just who he is. But it really hits you when you see how many times he has finished in the top three in our Club Champion ... he has sat comfortably among some of the all-time greats throughout his career. He's been a great player, a great confidant, a great friend and a terrific captain."
Kennedy, who has not played a senior game since Round 10 due to hamstring injuries, . said returning to play remains a "hope" this season, and he remains determined to continue doing everything he can to help the team for remainder of the year.|
Games: 290 (277 Sydney, 13 Hawthorn)
6th in all-time games Sydney (277 games)
Premiership player 2012
Sydney Best and Fairest 2012, 2015, 2016
All Australian 2012, 2014, 2016
Sydney Swans Captain 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Brett Kirk Medal 2012, 2015 (best on ground in Sydney vs GWS)
Sydney Swans Best Clubman 2020
Swans Players’ Player 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017
Swans Best in Finals 2010, 2013, 2015, 2016
Gary Ayres Award 2016 (best finals player)
Source: afl.com.au, hawthornfc.com.au, news.com.au, Tom Chadwick, Sydney Media Release
Article last changed on Monday, September 12, 2022 - 5:15 PM EDT