Is 2017 the greatest retirement class of all?

Sam Macpherson Roar Rookie

By , Sam Macpherson is a Roar Rookie

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    Steve Johnson has joined the ever-growing class of 2017 retirees, which is sure to be one of the greatest classes of all time.

    Johnson joined Jobe Watson, Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell, Nick Riewoldt, Scott Thompson, Matt Priddis and Matthew Boyd – to name a few.

    This group of players, who we will call the Class of 2017, have amassed just every award the game has to offer:

    • Three Brownlow Medals (there is an argument that this is only two, however I am including both Sam Mitchell and Jobe Watson)
    • 12 premierships
    • Five captains
    • 21 All Australian selections
    • Three Norm Smith Medals

    Who is to say that the awards outlined above cannot be added to yet. St Kilda’s Nick Riewoldt who fell agonisingly short of the premiership in 2009 and 2010 has a fighting chance to go out on top, Johnson’s Giants look like they are finding form at the right time of the season, and Boyd and Thompson’s sides could both push deep into September.

    There are also some great storylines in these retirements.

    It is fitting that Mitchell, Hodge and Johnson finish their careers in the same season.

    Mitchell of course was Hawthorn’s captain in their 2008 premiership year, before Hodge took over and led Hawthorn to their three-peat in 2013, 2014 and 2015. As for Johnson, he was part of the enthralling rivalry that existed between Hawthorn and Geelong for much of the 2000s.

    And all three were members of the 2001 ‘superdraft’.

    Johnson mentioned in his retirement that finishing up in the same year as many of his former rivals was something special that they would share at the end of the year.

    2016 saw its fair share of champions bow out, including Jimmy Bartel, Dane Swan, Matthew Pavlich, Brent Harvey, Corey Enright and Nick Dal Santo. It’s a class that again includes club champions, Brownlow medalists, premiership players and Norm Smith medalists.

    However, the class that is forever referred to as possibly the greatest of all time is the Class of 2007. Who could forget that year? It included James Hird, Nathan Buckley, Mark Ricciuto, Anothony Koutoufides, Chris Grant and Glenn Archer.

    That year was very much the end of a generation – when those players left, it was the likes of Hodge, Mitchell, Riewoldt and Johnson who took over the mantle as the game’s elite.

    Now is in many ways a mirror of 2007, with the Class of 2017 passing the mantle on to the likes of Dustin Martin, Patrick Dangerfield, Nat Fyfe and Josh Kelly.

    Who knows, in five to ten years’ time, when those guys start to call time on their careers, we might be having the same discussion.

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