Grover and out


Fremantle veteran Antoni Grover will retire at the conclusion of the 2012 season, ending what has so far been an outstanding 202-game AFL career spanning 13 years.

The 32-year-old informed the playing group of his decision in a team meeting today.

A life member at Fremantle, he made his name as one of the toughest and most uncompromising defenders in the game, playing alongside the likes of Luke McPharlin and Shane Parker during his career.

Grover made his debut in round 21, 1999 against Sydney at the WACA, making him the longest serving player on the club’s 2012 playing list and the only one to have debuted in the 90s.

He played in the club’s first AFL final against Essendon at Subiaco Oval in 2003 and reached the 200-game milestone against North Melbourne in round 22 last season.

Grover said it was a decision he knew had been coming for a while.


Roger Hayden retires


The recurrence of a long-term foot injury that requires surgery has forced Roger Hayden to call an end to his 128-game career with the Fremantle Dockers.

The 30-year-old advised the playing group of his decision before training today at Patersons Stadium.

Recruited from South Fremantle, Hayden was picked up in the 2001 Rookie Draft (No. 21) and elevated to the senior list in 2002, making his debut in round 15 that year.

After playing all but one game in 2010, the club has missed Hayden’s customary sweeping role across half-back for much of 2011. Following surgery on his injured foot late last year, he has managed to play only three games this season.

The father of two played his last game in round 17 against Sydney at the SCG, when he broke the fibula in his right leg during Freo’s 11 point win over the Swans.

Hayden said today that, in the end, the battles with his body had forced him to call an end to his AFL career.


Byron Schammer to retire


Fremantle’s Byron Schammer will retire as an AFL player after Saturday’s round 24 clash against the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium.

The 26-year-old advised the playing group of his decision at today’s regular Monday team meeting.

A veteran of 128 games, Schammer, who played his first game for the season against Collingwood last Friday night, made his debut for Fremantle in round one, 2003, winning a Rising Star Nomination that year.

Recruited from West Adelaide, he was a first round selection for Fremantle (pick no. 13) in the 2002 AFL National Draft.

Schammer said today that he had been mulling over the decision to retire for the last half of the season.

“I’ve put my heart and soul into the footy club for nine years and I now want to be able to put my time and effort into something else,” he said.

He intends to focus his attention on a stockbroking career.


Headland passes baton on to youngster


The changing of the guard at the Fremantle Football Club was summed up in a phone call between retiring Docker Des Headland and youngster Michael Walters.

Headland – who has been a mentor to the promising second-year player – recounted a chat he had with him this week about his decision.

“I gave him a call the other night, and said ‘look mate I’m gonna retire,” the 29-year-old said, adding a disappointed sigh greeted him on the end of the line.

“(He was like) ‘you serious, you’re kidding me, you’re kidding me. Can I have your number?’.”


Des Headland retires, looks to mentoring Indigenous youth


Fremantle veteran Des Headland has today announced his retirement as an AFL player.

Constant battles with injury forced Headland to end his career after 166 games, 114 with Fremantle and 52 with Brisbane.

His final game came in last Friday night’s Semi-Final loss to Geelong at the MCG, where he injured his left knee early in the first quarter.

Headland had not played an AFL game since round 4 this season after injuring his right knee. The 29-year-old said it was a case of the body not willing to do what the mind wanted.

“It’s been frustrating not being able to get out on the park in the past three years,” he said.

“I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. I felt like I could do it, but I just couldn’t do it.”


Hasleby sets sail for life after Dockers


Paul Hasleby is looking to a bright future focused on family after retiring from Fremantle, writes Joseph Sapienza.

As 29-year-old Paul Hasleby recounted his belief that he could return to AFL football after a devastating knee injury cut short his season in 2008, he thanked those loved ones who supported him and kept him on track to fulfil his goals.

“No doubt my girlfriend, Nicole,” he said gratefully, as an awkward silence descended on the press conference.

Then a faint murmur from his partner caught his ear.

“Fiancee? There you go, forgot about that,” he smiled, sending his teammates and club staff into fits of laughter.

“She’s been a tower of strength for me through a lot of tough times. It’s been a journey. You gotta realise that every player, they have people behind them that ride every bump along the way and she’s certainly done that, along with my family they’ve been a rock …”.


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