An Ode to Scott Thompson: One of the AFL’s most Durable Defenders Retires

 

In a career dating back more than a decade, Scott Thompson has had to overcome plenty of difficult moments.

From the severe injuries sustained earlier this season, to the reputation as a ‘spoiler’, which has detracted from his abilities on the pitch itself, Thompson has enjoyed a stellar career despite the obstacles in his path.

Undoubtedly, when the Victoria-born player begins to reflect on his career in his later years, he can safely give a nod of satisfaction to memories on the pitch, from Geelong to North Melbourne.

 

The 33-year-old has announced his retirement from Aussie Rules, and he will hang up his boots at the end of this 2019 campaign.

A rich legacy

Since debuting 12 years ago, Thompson has racked up more than 230 appearances in the AFL, winning both the Kangaroos’ best-and-fairest award and being named All Australia back in 2013.

He’s the kind of player that had a habit of getting up people’s noses, leading to the famous incident involving Barry Hall getting him in a headlock following an on-field disagreement in 2010. But there was barely a dry eye in the house when he formally announced his retirement in a specially arranged press conference on Friday 9th July.

“If I had to niggle an opponent to get them off their game I’d do that”, he reflected with a smile in the farewell conference. “(I was) a pest early on in my career. I stayed within the rules but just did anything I could do to put them off their game”.

He, of course, follows fellow Kangaroo Sam Wright into the AFL retirement home; the backman called time on his own career a couple of weeks ago.

Thompson is widely regarded as one of the best defenders currently playing in the AFL, but he has admitted that a loss of pace has affected his ability to get around the turf.

With the loss of such a legendary player, it is suspected that it will take the Roos some time to get over this.

 

The dreaded transitional period

The last couple of seasons have not been memorable ones for the North Melbourne Kangaroos – even with Thompson shoring up their backline.

With Brad Scott departing, there was always likely to be a period of transition with Rhyce Shaw taking the reins and a youthful starting line-up lacking in experience at the sharp end of AFL football.

The likes of Ben McKay and Sam Durdin will be called upon to cover for Thompson in defence, and Shaw will be hoping that another year older and wiser, his Roos will be able to compete more rigorously in 2020.

Their hopes of a top-eight finish in the Premiership are fading fast, with an eight-point gap opening up to the play-off places. With a negative points difference, their odds with the sportsbooks of winning the Grand Final – 501.00 – are reflective of their chances. Indeed, the Aussie Rules betting odds favour the Geelong Cats and Richmond to take their place in the AFL’s flagship showdown.

There’s a possibility that Scott Thompson will be welcomed back to the club in a coaching role. It would be extremely beneficial for the team if he could transfer his experience and knowledge on to the Roo’s young talents making their way up in the game. With all this in mind, there’s no reason why they can’t feature more heavily in the play-off shake-up next season.

 

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