first intro2016 was, beyond all doubt, the Year of the Underdog in a global sporting context. Leicester City triumphed against all odds in the English Premier League, the Cleveland Cavaliers took home their first ever NBA Championship, the Chicago Cubs broke a 108-year drought to win the World Series, and a little closer to home, the Western Bulldogs broke a 62-year Premiership drought.
2017, however, has had a completely different theme associated to it: retirement.
Left, right and centre, some of the very best players to have graced the game are wrapping it up, calling it quits, hanging up the boots. Whatever colloquialism you want to use, some of our favourites are retiring at season’s end. For some, that journey ends in just three weeks. For others, they may be lucky enough to bow out of the game with one last hurrah in the finals. Fortunately for us, these greats announcing their impending retirements all allows us to embrace the final few weeks of their careers. To appreciate all the good things they do week-in, week-out, and to maybe haggle a little bit harder for that precious autograph of them that has thus far evaded you.
Many of these retiring superstars have also been big players in SuperCoach over the last decade, churning out consistently high scores for a number of years, and demanding selection in our teams every year. Because of this, it only seems fair that we reflect on their careers and appreciate just how important they have been for us over the journey:
The former Hawks skipper got the ball rolling with the host of retirees in Season 2017, calling time on his career a couple of weeks ago. Hodge had already spent a few years in the system by the time SuperCoach was first introduced, but was quick to prove himself a star of the game by the time the scoring system was implemented, averaging over 110 points in 22 games in Season 2007. From there, Hodge continued to deliver, finishing up with an average of over 100 in four of the next 10 seasons, and never dropped below an average of 85.9, which was his career-low in a year thanks to an injury-plagued 2012 season. Hodge’s aggressive nature on the field proved to be somewhat of a blight on his SuperCoach reputation, as he could never be relied upon to play a full season without receiving a suspension (especially considering he never again played a full season after 2007). Adored by all Hawthorn fans, but also endeared himself amongst the many SuperCoaches who found a role for him in their backline over the years.
SuperCoach Games: 191
SuperCoach Career Average: 100.07
SuperCoach High Score: 196 (v Western Bulldogs, Round 21, 2007)
Key forwards have often been ones to avoid in SuperCoach, as their inability to score with consistency can be a massive turn-off for prospective SuperCoaches. But at the height of his powers, Nick Riewoldt was one of the most consistent and dangerous centre-half forwards to have ever played the game, never mind just in this era. Across the last 11 seasons, Riewoldt has failed to average over 100 in a season just five times, (three times averaging in the 90’s) and should be play St Kilda’s last two games of the season, he will have also managed at least 19 games in a season in nine of the last 11 years. The height of his career was during the years of 2006-09, where he averaged at least 110 points a game every year, and missed just four games of the home-and-away season during that period. Persistent knee injuries have curtailed his influence in the twilight of his career, but he has still manufactured some great scores over the last couple of seasons, including a score of 161 in Round 3 this year. A former popular No.1 SuperCoach selection up forward that will be sorely missed by everyone who loves the game.
SuperCoach Games: 245
SuperCoach Career Average: 102.56
SuperCoach High Score: 187 (v Brisbane Lions, Round 23, 2016)
Perhaps the most underrated player on this list, Matthew Boyd’s period of dominance coincided with a time when Gary Ablett Jr, Dane Swan and Chris Judd were the big three midfield choices in SuperCoach. Despite clearly falling behind the big three in the popularity stakes, the former captain never trailed too far behind in the scoring charts. Since 2009, Boyd has finished with a season average of over 100 in all bar two seasons (73.3 this year and 97.9 in 2014), but his durability could rival anyone else in the competition. Between 2007-12, Boyd missed just two games. TWO! Out of 141 games, he missed just two of them. Whilst his midfield numbers were criminally underrated in 2011-12 (averaging 115.5 and 113.2 respectively), his career appeared to be waning at the end of 2014, but the arrival of coach Luke Beveridge saw the one-time midfielder shifted to half back, and his consistently-high scoring picked up again, allowing many sentimentalists the chance of hold onto one of their favourites. Injuries and indifferent form have affected him greatly this year, but his place in esteemed SuperCoach Royalty remains very much intact. Bulldogs fans will be hoping to see him recalled to the senior side before season’s end, but Boyd himself can be very proud of what he has achieved in his career.
SuperCoach Games Played: 239
SuperCoach Career Average: 99.2
SuperCoach High Score: 164 ( v St Kilda, Round 11, 2011)
He’s done it all has Mitchell. His sublime decision making and ball use stood above all else and his leadership qualities, along with Luke Hodge, have led Hawthorn to an extended period of excellence and success. The 324-gamer has been providing consistently solid scores for SuperCoaches for at least 13 years and in that time has only averaged less than 100 SuperCoach points in a season twice – in 2010 and 2014, both years in which he played less than 20 games. His move this year to Perth to join West Coast will prove a fruitful one for his career after football as he will slide seamlessly into the Eagles’ coaching box alongside Adam Simpson. While his abilities on the field are often debated, his achievements can not be denied. Four-time AFL Premiership player (one as captain), five-time Peter Crimmins Medal winner (the second most of any Hawk, behind only Leigh Matthews), three-time All-Australian, two-time Lou Richards Medal winner, JJ Liston Trophy winner, VFL premiership player (Box Hill) and the 2003 AFL Rising Star winner. Simply, Mitchell is a winner.
SuperCoach Games Played: 300
SuperCoach Career Average: 103.9
SuperCoach High Score: 161
Another very underrated midfielder (although this is probably more due to playing for an interstate club), Matthew Priddis has also announced his retirement this year, and will bow out as one of the most consistent performers in the competition. Aside from his debut season in 2006, Priddis has a season average of at least 90 points in every season, and a season average of over 100 in all bar three seasons. Whilst he wasn’t one who you could rely upon to produce massive scores of 150+ on a regular basis, his ability to regularly score triple figures made him a very reliable prospect, and one SuperCoaches could depend on when a three-figure score was required. This is reflected in his career average (which is bang on 100 points), and West Coast will certainly be poorer for the loss of the 2014 Brownlow Medallist.
SuperCoach Games Played: 225
SuperCoach Career Average: 100.09
SuperCoach High Score: 196 (v Gold Coast, Round 7, 2015)
The career of Jobe Watson will most likely always be overshadowed by the catastrophic Supplements Saga that tore through the very fabric of the Essendon Football Club for well over four years. Whilst many people were responsible for what took place during those years, Watson’s face was often identified as the representation of the playing group, and as the ordeal became increasingly difficult for him to bear, what became less and less memorable was his impact as a footballer. At his best, Watson was a destructive, big-bodied midfielder capable of bursting through packs and crashing through congested areas. His expertise as a clearance specialist was pertinent to Essendon’s on-field success for many years, but his prime sadly didn’t last for quite as long as many Essendon fans would have been hoping for. Only twice did he manage a season average of over 110 (in 2012-13), and his numbers have been on a steady decline since a career-high average of 121 SuperCoach points back in 2012. It would seem as though the off-field controversies have slowly but surely worn him down over time, and reaching the heights of his 2012 figures just isn’t possible anymore. Essendon diehards will be looking to provide Watson with a fitting farewell as the Bombers aim to secure a spot in the finals.
SuperCoach Games Played: 201
SuperCoach Career Average: 105.5
SuperCoach High Score: 196 (v St Kilda, Round 2o, 2009)
The mercurial forward only announced his impending retirement yesterday, but still remains a class act who is capable of the impossible at times. Johnson was never the biggest SuperCoach scorer, but his ability to provide a solid average with the occasional massive score hidden at various stages during the season made him a very tantalising unique prospect, and someone who your opponent would be very nervous about having to deal with. On his day, the opposition would have no answers to Johnson’s brilliance. His best would change games but even his most inconsistent would provide us with moments of pure magic. But his brilliant moments have been fewer and farther between in Season 2017, and his scoring has dropped off as well, which makes the call to retire a relatively straightforward one. There’s no doubt that Johnson will have one last chance to help himself to a fourth Premiership, which would be a fitting way to end a fine career. A career average of 100 in SuperCoach only underlines what a quality footballer he has been.
SuperCoach Games Played: 204
SuperCoach Career Average: 100
SuperCoach High Score: 199 (v Melbourne, Round 19, 2011)
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