South Fremantle stalwart Toby McGrath has called time on his illustrious career after 234 league games.
McGrath won nearly all there was to win at WAFL level, with two premierships, one as captain, two best-and-fairest awards, and Sandover and Simpson medals.
He also spent time on rookie lists at West Coast and Essendon, represented WA six times and was named as one of the top 25 WAFL players of the last 25 years.
At McGrath’s testimonial dinner in July, WA football legend John Todd urged the veteran not to play on past his used-by date.
On the same night, coach Paul Hasleby said McGrath was still playing well enough to extend his career to a 16th season and would be welcome at the club in 2013 if his heart was still in it.
But after post-season discussions with Hasleby, McGrath, who turns 32 next week, said his aging body and increasing work commitments meant now was the right time to bring down the curtain on a career that began in 1998.
South Fremantle will head in a new direction next year, adopting a fresh training program that requires players to commit far more time to the club.
“It was just my time. I had a good run but my body has had enough and now my mind has kind of had enough,” McGrath said.
“Work commitments played a part as well. I just can’t commit the time.
“I wanted to leave on my terms instead of getting midway through next year and being told I’m not going to be part of the league side anymore.”
McGrath said in August he was reluctant to leave South Fremantle with their inexperienced league team struggling near the foot of the ladder, but was always going to delay his decision until the end of the season.
The Bulldogs won a second successive colts premiership this year and with former Dockers star Hasleby leading the club’s revival, McGrath said he was comfortable with his decision.
South Fremantle won four of their last five games this year, including a stirring derby victory over eventual grand finalists East Fremantle, showing promising signs for the future.
“They’re putting a more professional process in place and looking to recruit a few big names,” McGrath said.
“We just lost a lot of our players to injuries and retirement last year at the wrong stages, but they’re a good bunch of young blokes.”
Several country and amateur clubs have already sought McGrath’s services for next season, but he indicated he was likely to play with his brother at Mundijong in the Peel Football League before heading on an overseas trip with his girlfriend.
McGrath will enjoy one last send-off with his South Fremantle teammates on the team’s off-season trip to the United States next week.