Grand Finale: Top 10 AFL athletes who retired in 2016

Grand Finale: Top 10 AFL athletes who retired in 2016

Following the two incredibly exciting AFL and NRL grand finals a few weekends ago, a number of high-profile players had, during the course of the year, chosen to hang up the boots.

We take a look, in chronological order of retirement announcement, at some of the respective codes’ most illustrious retirees from season 2016, starting with the AFL.

Note: the life after footy plans for each player is based on what has been said in interviews in the media, or it has been assumed (and noted as such).

Andrew Walker (Carlton)

Twitter: @Walkytalky1  |  Instagram: @walkytalky1
Age: 30  |  Games: 202  |  Date retired: August 2nd

Originally from Echuca in country Victoria, Walker became Carlton’s first Indigenous player to reach 200 games. Despite having a contract until the end of 2017, Walker’s body could not hold up further and he retired a one-club player after 13 seasons with the Blues. He will be best remembered for kicking a goal with a minute left on the clock to earn Carlton a 3-point win over St Kilda in 2011. He plans to stay in the footy industry in some capacity.

Ted Richards (Sydney)

Twitter: @tedrichards25  |  Instagram: @tedrichards25
Age: 33  |  Games: 261  |  Date retired: August 5th

Richards arrived at Sydney in 2006 after being traded from Essendon, where he’d spent 6 seasons since being drafted as pick 27 in 2000. He finally made his AFL debut in 2002 and racked up 261 games, winning the Premiership in 2012 to go along with All-Australian selection that year. Richards heads off into the finance world, having completed a Master of Finance through Kaplan University in 2014.

Adam Cooney (Essendon/Western Bulldogs)

Twitter: @Adamcooney17  |  Instagram: @Adamcooney17
Age: 31  |  Games: 250  |  Date retired: August 16th

Cooney was No. 1 draft pick in 2003, coming to the Doggies from West Adelaide. In 2008, he won the Brownlow Medal and became an All-Australian. After 219 games, he moved a few miles north to Essendon in 2014, but a degenerative knee injury meant he was forced to call time on his career. He has been scribing for the Herald Sun recently, so a career in the media perhaps beckons.

Mathew Stokes (Essendon/Geelong)

Age: 31  |  Games: 200  |  Date retired: August 18th

Stokes played for the Australian U17s and then moved from Darwin to Adelaide to play in the SANFL. Working and studying part-time as a zookeeper, the Cats finally picked him up in the 2005 draft (No.61). He became known as a courageous small forward and then midfield-wing, notching 189 games for Geelong (including 2 Premierships, in 2007, 2011) and 11 for Essendon. It is expected that he will pursue a career in a leadership role working with young indigenous people.

Dane Swan (Collingwood)

Twitter: @swandane  |  Instagram: @danes84
Age: 32  |  Games: 258  |  Date retired: August 22nd

Swan was drafted by the Pies at No.58 in 2001. Despite only making his debut 2 years later, he became recognised as one of the greatest midfielders of the modern era. He won a premiership (2010), the Brownlow Medal (2011), the Copeland Trophy for Collingwood’s Best & Fairest (2008-2010), the ANZAC Day Medal (2012 & 2014) and was a 5-time All-Australian. He is taking a gap year overseas in 2017, but also has numerous business interests, including a tattoo parlour and a clothing label, Ratbagg.

Matthew Pavlich (Fremantle)

Twitter: @mattpav29  |  Instagram: @mav_29
Age: 34  |  Games: 353  |  Date retired: August 24th

An Adelaide boy, Pavlich was drafted to Fremantle as pick No.4 in 1999. He was a 6-time Dockers’ Best & Fairest winner, kicked 700 goals and was the club captain (2007- 2015) and is the current President of the AFL Players’ Association. He has obtained both a Science degree and an MBA and is a brand ambassador for numerous companies. He co-founded PickStar, an athlete bookings platform and is currently taking 6 months off to spend time with family.

Michael Firrito (North Melbourne)

Instagram: @spud_11_
Age: 32  |  Games: 275  |  Date retired: September 13th

“Spud” Firrito was plucked from Box Hill Hawks in the VFL and was immediately elevated from the Kangaroos’ rookie list in 2003 to make his AFL debut. The next year he received a Rising Star nomination. Although primarily a defender, he has also been used as a tagger. After almost being delisted at the end of 2013, he managed to play at least 20 games in his last 3 seasons. His post-football career plans are unclear at this stage.

Corey Enright (Geelong)

Instagram: @enrightus
Age: 35  |  Games: 332  |  Date retired: October 4th

Enright was drafted (pick No.47) to the Cats from the Port Adelaide Magpies in the SANFL in 1999, eventually making his debut in the 2001 season. A 3-time Premiership player (2007, 2009, 2011) and 6-time All-Australian, he also won the club’s Best & Fairest (Carji Greeves Medal) twice (2009, 2011). Enright retired after the 2016 season with the club’s games record, and will return to the Cattery as a development coach in 2017.

Brent Harvey (North Melbourne)

Twitter: @Boomer_29  |  Instagram: @boomer.29
Age: 38  |  Games: 432  |  Date retired: October 7th

“Boomer” Harvey was drafted in 1995 by the Kangaroos, debuting the following year. He went on to win a Premiership in 1999 and the club’s Best & Fairest (Syd Barker Medal) the most times (5), and be an All-Australian 4 times. In 2016, the midfielder/small forward broke Michael Tuck’s long-held record for the most matches played in AFL/VFL history (426). He was controversially delisted and bowed out of the game at the Kangaroos’ Best & Fairest night. He will play with brother Shane next year at North Heidelberg and no doubt continue with growing his sports drink business, Spark.

Jimmy Bartel (Geelong)

Instagram: @jrb03
Age: 32  |  Games: 305  |  Date retired: October 19th

Bartel, a home-grown Geelong boy, was draft pick No.8 in 2001 and played his first game for the Cats in 2002’s opening round against the Bombers. His standout year was in 2007, when he claimed the Brownlow Medal by 7 votes. That same year he won the first of 3 Premierships, with the other 2 being in 2009 and 2011, the latter being when he picked up the Norm Smith Medal in the Grand Final. Twice an All-Australian, the utility player hung up his boots after mutual agreement with the Cats.

Other notable mentions: Nathan van Berlo (Adelaide), Daniel Merrett (Brisbane), Brent Macaffer and Alan Toovey (both Collingwood), Troy Chaplin (Richmond/Port Adelaide), Ben McGlynn (Sydney/Hawthorn), Nick Malceski (Sydney/Gold Coast), Xavier Ellis (West Coast Eagles/Hawthorn), Jed Adcock (Western Bulldogs/Brisbane).

Check out our post on the Top 10 retiring NRL players for 2016.

Rob Flude

Rob is the Head of Digital & Communications for The Final Whistle. Born and bred in Cape Town, he has called London and Melbourne home and also travelled to 42 countries. He has a background in IT Projects and in Sports Media.
Interests: self-improvement, sport, health & well-being, eCommerce, travelling, reading, craft beer, social enterprises, writing, human behaviour.
First article: February 2016

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