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It’s round 23 this weekend, the last home and away round of AFL season 2016. It will also be the last game played by many players as they exit their AFL playing careers.
Some will retire at a time of their choosing for any number of reasons.
Some, like Dane Swan, will have their exits forced upon them by ageing bodies failing to live up to the intense desire to continue. A classic case of “the spirit is willing but the body is weak”.
Some will have their exits forced upon them by their clubs who have to make the tough judgement calls in the interests of the club. Clubs are in the business of winning premierships first and foremost, emotion and loyalty only go so far in keeping a player at the club. Just ask the games record holder Brent Harvey at North Melbourne still playing some of the best footy of his career but told this week that he will be delisted for 2017.
Many of these players have been champions of the game in all sorts of ways. So before the finals get under way and then closely followed by the welcome into the AFL of the crop of new players coming in through the draft, we thought it only fitting to celebrate all the exits this weekend.
See this page for a list of all the retirements and delistings in 2016.
For the first time in their history, the GWS Giants will be playing finals this year but must overcome North Melbourne this weekend to determine their placement in the finals eight and therefore whether they can get a home final or not.
The Sydney Swans are continuing their great record of consistently playing in finals but with the added bonus of being able to play a home final at the SCG after some lengthy negotiations with ANZ Stadium, see details here.
An even more delicious prospect is the possibility that the Swans and the Giants may end up playing each other in a final at the ANZ Stadium.
The Swans are also promoting a novel charity campaign called “Behinds Matter” in conjunction with the Jodi Lee Foundation and are to be commended for lending their support.
But let’s raise a glass of champagne in gratitude to all the players who have provided so much entertainment and joy over the years as they exit the game this weekend.