The 2017 AFL retirees will go down as one of the greatest group the game has witnessed leave the League at the same time. Let’s have a look at some of the champions saying farewell:
Scott Thompson (Melbourne/Adelaide)
One of the Crows’ greatest midfielders, the tough-as-nails Thompson took his chance at Adelaide after leaving Melbourne in 2004 and became a contested possession machine. It is unlikely Thompson will feature again for the Crows this season after having played only one game, but his 300-plus games’ worth of experience is there if needed. Was part of the 2012 All Australian side.
Jobe Watson (Essendon)
Watson will go down as one of the greatest captains and midfielders Essendon has ever seen. He had a thankless task in keeping his side motivated and focused on football during the Bombers’ toughest period in 2012-2015, but did it with courage. Lacked speed but his football smarts inside dishing it off was highly rated.
Steve Johnson (GWS/Geelong)
Stevie J has been one of the game’s greatest characters and entertainers over the years. A three-time premiership player with Geelong, he could add another premiership to his collection given how the Giants are shaping up this September. Has kicked over 500 career goals and will fall just short of 300 career games.
Luke Hodge (Hawthorn)
The finest of the lot. Hodge had a career that others could only dream about. From being the fearless leader of his Hawthorn football club during the golden flag era, to playing over 300 games with his trademark toughness, along with All Australian awards and four premierships – there’s not a lot Hodge hasn’t done.
Josh Gibson (Hawthorn/North Melbourne)
Gibson played his best football at Hawthorn after developing his game to become a spoiling machine as the third man up. Gibson was a crucial component of the Hawks’ backline during the famed flag era in 2013-2015.
Nick Riewoldt (St Kilda)
Riewoldt is regarded as one of the unluckiest players to have not won a premiership. Riewoldt stood by his beloved Saints despite their premiership window being closed since 2012. Known for his amazing endurance as a CHF and threat up forward, Riewoldt kicked over 700 career goals and played over 330 games.
Matthew Priddis (West Coast)
Priddis was always known to prefer handballing over kicking, but this did not impact his ability to be effective, highlighted by his Brownlow Medal in 2014 and All Australian selection in 2015. Also enjoyed laying a tackle or 10 during games, not letting anyone get in his way.
Sam Mitchell (West Coast/Hawthorn)
Mitchell will be remembered for his heroics at Hawthorn, departing the club in 2016 as a four-time premiership player and 2012 Brownlow Medal winner. Mitchell had the special ability to find space through congestion, along with an uncanny ability to kick perfectly on both feet.
Robert Murphy (Western Bulldogs)
Murphy has been known as the heart and soul of the Bulldogs. Murphy proved to be very flexible playing in different roles to help his side throughout his career, but mostly did his best work across half-back with one of the most accurate kicks in the AFL for a long period of time. Missed his club’s euphoric premiership triumph last year but was regarded as a key figure in their success and played over 300 games.
Matthew Boyd (Western Bulldogs)
While Boyd has been winding his career down in the back-pocket over the last few years, he was known as one of the most consistent midfielders in the competition from 2008-2012. Unlucky to fall just short of 300 career games, although he will go down with the record of most games played by a rookie draftee. Captain of the Bulldogs in 2011-2012 and a three-time All Australian.