LAST November, well over 100 footballers realised their AFL dream when they were drafted as a senior or rookie-listed player by a club.
The flipside to that joy was that just as many had to make way for the influx of fresh faces.
As we begin 2018, 115 men that either retired or were delisted at the end of 2017 begin the year without the ‘full-time footballer’ luxury.
Unsurprisingly, some of the recently departed have been quickly snapped up by clubs at an array of levels around the country.
Former Sydney midfielder Brandon Jack is one of those, as he’ll play for NEAFL club Sydney Univeristy alongside Craig Bird and Shaun Edwards.
But Jack’s top career priority now is very different.
SCROLL DOWN TO SEE A FULL LIST OF WHAT EVERY RETIRED/DELISTED PLAYER FROM YOUR CLUB IS DOING IN 2018
Jack, the brother of Kieren Jack that played 28 games for the Swans, is now pursuing a music career, linking up with a bass guitarist and drummer to form the group The Vitriots. And they’ve already realeased their first album.
“Now that we’ve released something on the internet, we’re looking to secure some shows around Sydney as well.
“We’re just looking to gradually build a bit of a following and hopefully some people like what we do and if they don’t then that’s OK but we’re still going to make music.”
Former Collingwood forward Jesse White loomed as a genuine cross-code athlete late last year when he was invited to be a training player with Melbourne United in the NBL.
However White missed out on a contract with United and quickly turned his attention back to footy, with SANFL club Glenelg snapping up the tall forward.
“I really wanted to scratch that itch,” White told SANFL Radio of his desire to play basketball.
“Meeting with Melbourne United, they really opened their doors to me and it was awesome to get a taste of something different.
“Coming from the AFL, I was at the crossroads where I had to think about in the long run where I would head with that.
“I really enjoyed it and they’re a very professional group.”
Many players have categorically hung up the boots at all levels to take on coaching whiteboards full-time, including Steve Johnson, Scott Thompson, James Kelly and Matthew Boyd.
One of those new coaches is Dennis Armfield, who is remaining at Carlton to work with the club’s AFLW team, while he’s also had experience working with the AFL Women’s AFL Academy.
But Armfield, one of the most charismatic Carlton players of recent years, has also bizarrely thrown his support behind lawn bowls, recently signing up as Melbourne Roys’ ambassador for the Bowls Premier League.
Plenty of other former AFL cult heroes have found new local homes. Jarrad Grant is heading to the Frankston Bombers, Jack Fitzpatrick will work with VFL club Werribee in a coaching capacity and Blaine Boekhorst has been picked up by East Fremantle in the WAFL.
Elsewhere, some retirees are set to slot straight into media roles, including Nick Riewoldt, Leigh Montagna and Bob Murphy. It’s also understood Murphy could have a role at AFL club land too.
Former Essendon captain Jobe Watson, who endured arguably the hardest five-year period of any AFL footballer this decade, is happy to step away from the game completely. For the moment.
Watson has again spent time in New York at his beloved ‘Hole in the Wall’ café. But he hasn’t ruled out a return to footy in some capacity yet.
“(Essendon) will always hold a dear place for me and my family,” Watson told Exclusive Insight last year.
“Whether I come back in some form I’m not sure, or whether I have an involvement in footy at all I’m not sure. I might miss it too much and think ‘it’s really what I love, it’s what I have to do, so I have to go back to it’.
“I guess I’ll end up having a conversation with myself again and ask what makes me happy.”
Many players will focus on study.
Former Fremantle defender Garrick Ibbotson had the opportunity to play in the WAFL in 2018 and/or have a crack at coaching, but is opting to finish off his property development course at university, wants to move into property development in the future in WA.
“I haven’t ruled (coaching) out, but not in this 12 month period,” Ibbotson told 6PR in December.
“I probably I would’ve played a year at East Fremantle, but body-wise I couldn’t go another year – it is out of the question.”
Unfortunately for former Suns ruckman Daniel Currie, he’s been forced to retire from football completely due to a foot injury.
He told the Gold Coast Bulletin in November that he was looking forward to moving back to Melbourne and “chucking the bag of fruit on full time next year”.
One of the great feel-good stories is former Giants ruckman Tom Downie, who’s making a concerted effort to make a difference in his local community.
Ever since retiring midway through last season due to mental health issues, Downie has been working with troubled kids at his local Police-Citizens Youth Clubs. He’s also studying youth work and is the face of the Black Dog Institute’s “Exercise Your Mood” campaign.
“Nothing against footy, I thought it could financially set me up for the rest of my life, but it’s a very selfish lifestyle,” Downie said last year.
“I eventually realised fame and fortune doesn’t mean as much as being happy.”
Hawthorn champion Josh Gibson is entering an exciting business adventure, with his new skincare company ‘Thank Goat’ to go to market in February.
“I’ll be sitting in an office looking at a laptop all day,” Gibson told SEN in December.
As for Zac Dawson? He’s likely to call Victoria home in 2018, with a job lined up in commercial real estate. His playing future, however, remains unclear.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
The class of 2017 delisted/retired players and what they’re doing now (Note: Not every player has locked in a club for the season or even decided when they want to play).
Scott Thompson (Retired) – Midfield development coach at Port Adelaide (AFL)
Troy Menzel (Delisted) – Golden Grove Amateurs (SAAFL)
Dean Gore (Delisted) – Geelong (VFL)
Jonathan Beech (Delisted) – West Adelaide (SANFL)
Ryan Harwood (Delisted) – Western Magpies (QAFL)
Jarrad Jansen (Delisted) – East Fremantle (WAFL)
Jonathan Freeman (Delisted) – Aspley (NEAFL)
Josh Clayton (Delisted) – Southport Sharks (NEAFL)
Blake Grewar (Delisted) – Richmond (VFL)
Michael Close (Delisted) – North Melbourne (VFL)
Reuben William (Delisted) – Footscray (VFL)
Matthew Hammelmann (Delisted) – Redland (NEAFL)
Dennis Armfield (Retired) – Coaching roles at Carlton (AFLW) and the AFL Women’s AFL Academy
Andrew Gallucci (Delisted) – Collingwood (VFL)
Daniel Gorringe (Retired) – Balwyn (EFL)
Kristian Jaksch (Delisted) – Old Carey (VAFA)
Matthew Korcheck (Retired) – Likely to return to the US
Liam Sumner (Delisted) – St Bedes-Mentone (VAFA)
Simon White (Delisted) – Local footy (TBC)
Billie Smedts (Delisted) – Leopold (Geelong FL)
Blaine Boekhorst (Delisted) – East Fremantle (WAFL)
Ciaran Sheehan (Delisted) – Avondale Heights (Essendon DFL), as well as a likely player welfare role with AFL Players’ Association
Rhys Palmer (Delisted) – Either East Fremantle or Swan Districts (WAFL)
Jesse White (Retired) – Glenelg (SANFL) after being a training player at Melbourne United (NBL)
Henry Schade (Delisted) – Balwyn (EFL)
Liam Mackie (Delisted) – Could sign with a VFL club
Mitch McCarthy (Delisted) – Frankston (VFL)
Ben Sinclair (Retired) – Recently travelled around South America, unlikely to play anywhere
Jackson Ramsay (Delisted) – East Perth (WAFL)
James Kelly (Retired) – Performance coach at Essendon (AFL)
Brent Stanton (Retired) – Development coach at Carlton (AFL)
Jobe Watson (Retired) – Hole in the Wall café (USA)?
Heath Hocking (Delisted) – Essendon (VFL)
Ben Howlett (Delisted) – Peel Thunder (WAFL)
Craig Bird (Delisted) – Sydney University (NEAFL)
Zac Dawson (Retired) – Moving back to Victoria, has a job lined up in commercial real estate
Garrick Ibbotson (Retired) – Finishing off property development course at university
Zac Clarke (Delisted) – Subiaco (WAFL)
Jon Griffin (Delisted) – East Fremantle (WAFL)
Sam Collins (Delisted) – Werribee (VFL)
Josh Deluca (Delisted) — Subiaco (WAFL)
Matthew Uebergang (Delisted) — Glenelg (SANFL)
Nick Suban (Delisted) — South Fremantle (WAFL)
Tom Lonergan (Retired) — On the lookout for something in AFL industry, ambassador for the Australian Red Cross
Andrew Mackie (Retired) — Recruiting and talent ID role at Geelong (AFL)
Josh Cowan (Delisted) — Set to play in the VFL or locally in Geelong
Tom Ruggles (Delisted) — Leopold (Geelong FL)
GOLD COAST SUNS
Jarrad Grant (Delisted) — Frankston Bombers (MPNFL)
Mitch Hallahan (Delisted) — Sorrento (MPNFL)
Keegan Brooksby (Delisted) — South Adelaide (SANFL)
Ryan Davis (Delisted) — Southport (NEAFL)
Cameron Loersch (Delisted) — East Fremantle (WAFL)
Daniel Currie (Delisted) — Studying, forced to retire from football completely due to a foot injury
Tom Downie (Retired) — Works with troubled kids at his local Police-Citizens Youth Clubs, studies youth work, face of Black Dog Institute’s “Exercise Your Mood” campaign
Steve Johnson (Retired) — Assistant coach at Sydney Swans (AFL)
Tendai Mzungu (Retired) — Next generation academy coach at Fremantle (AFL)
Shane Mumford (Retired) — Part-time ruck coach at GWS Giants (AFL)
Jack Fitzpatrick (Retired) — Working with Werribee in a coaching capacity (VFL), plus an ambassador for Diabetes Victoria
Josh Gibson (Retired) — Owner of the new skincare company ‘Thank Goat’ to be launched February 2018
Luke Surman (Retired) — TBC
Kade Stewart (Delisted) — Linked with Katanning Wanderers (UGSFL)
Ty Vickery (Retired) — TBC
Mitch White (Delisted) — Casey Demons (VFL)
Liam Hulett (Delisted) — Edithvale-Aspendale (MPNFL)
Jake Spencer (Delisted) — Aspley (NEAFL)
Ben Kennedy (Delisted) — Montmorency (Northern FL)
Colin Garland (Retired) — Coach at Casey Demons (VFLW), multiple coaching roles at Melbourne (AFL)
Will Fordham (Delisted) — Frankston (VFL)
Lachie Hansen (Delisted) — Pascoe Vale (Essendon DFL)
Matthew Taylor (Delisted) — Perth (WAFL)
Corey Wagner (Delisted) — Casey Demons (VFL)
Andrew Swallow (Retired) — Aspley (NEAFL)
Nathan Krakouer (Retired) — Keen to coach. Linked with Port Adelaide as its new academy coach
Angus Monfries (Retired) — Linked to Footscray (VFL) in a playing/coaching/welfare role
Matthew White (Delisted) — TBC, also working as a landscaper
Jesse Palmer (Delisted) — Northern Blues (VFL)
Brett Eddy (Delisted) — Vermont (Eastern FL)
Ivan Maric (Retired) — Ruck coach and player development at Richmond (AFL)
Chris Yarran (Retired) — Swan Districts (WAFL)
Steven Morris (Delisted) — Richmond (VFL)
Todd Elton (Delisted) — Frankston (VFL)
Taylor Hunt (Delisted) — Collegians (VAFA)
Ben Lennon (Delisted) — Wants to become an NFL punter
Jake Batchelor (Delisted) — Playing-assistant coach at Frankston (VFL)
Sean Dempster (Retired) — Strength and conditioning at Hawthorn (AFL)
Leigh Montagna (Retired) — Likely to land a role in the footy media (TBC)
Nick Riewoldt (Retired) — Media (Fox Footy)
Nick Coughlan (Delisted) — Werribee (VFL)
Jason Holmes (Delisted) — Old Xaverians (VAFA)
Nick O’Kearney (Delisted) — TBC
Joe Baker-Thomas (Delisted) — NZ scholarship player staying in Australia to play country or local football
Shaun Edwards (Retired) — Sydney University (NEAFL)
Brandon Jack (Delisted) — Sydney University (NEAFL)
Tyrone Leonardis (Delisted) — Set to play local footy in Melbourne
Michael Talia (Delisted) — Norwood (SANFL)
Jeremy Laidler (retired) — Development coach at Sydney Swans (AFL)
Sam Fisher (Delisted) — Northern Blues (VFL)
WEST COAST EAGLES
Paddy Brophy (Retired) — Returned to Ireland to play Gaelic Football for Kildare
Sam Butler (Retired) — TBC but has dabbled in the footy media
Sam Mitchell (Retired) — Assistant coach at West Coast Eagles (AFL)
Drew Petrie (Retired) — Next generation academy senior coach at West Coast Eagles (AFL) and coaching role with AFL Academy
Matt Priddis (Retired) — Working in finance broking with In Front Australian Business Solutions
Jonathan Giles (Retired) — Part-time ruck coach at West Coast (AFL)
Simon Tunbridge (Delisted) — Circled by Perth (WAFL)
Sharrod Wellingham (Delisted) — East Perth (WAFL)
Josh Hill (Delisted) — Northern Blues (VFL)
Tom Lamb (Delisted) — Sandringham (VFL)
Tom Gorter (Delisted) — East Perth (WAFL)
Jordan Snadden (Delisted) — East Fremantle (WAFL)
Matthew Boyd (Retired) — Development coach at Collingwood (AFL)
Robert Murphy (Retired) — Likely to land multiple roles in the footy media, plus a potential job at an AFL club
Josh Prudden (Delisted) — Footscray (VFL)
Declan Hamilton (Delisted) — Norwood (SANFL)
Tristan Tweedie (Delisted) — Box Hill Hawks (VFL)
Travis Cloke (Retired) — Has trained with his older brother Cameron at Hurstbridge (Northern FL)