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Another club, another club champion: Dangerfield win caps off stellar season

Football

Patrick Dangerfield’s Geelong best and fairest may have been a formality after his swag of individual awards, including a record Brownlow total, but it might be among the sweetest for a player so enthralled by the lure of playing for the club he grew up supporting.

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After last year claiming his maiden Malcolm Blight medal as he departed Adelaide, Dangerfield last night capped off his first season for the Cats by claiming the ‘Carji’ Greeves Medal at Crown’s Palladium, having been deemed best on ground in eight of his 24 games.

He finished on 253 votes, outpacing captain Joel Selwood on 238 and retiring All Australian defender Corey Enright on 234.5.

Corey Enright of the Cats cry with Patrick Dangerfield of the Cats after losing the AFL preliminary final between the Geelong Cats and the Sydney Swans at the MCG in Melbourne, Friday, Sept. 23, 2016. (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Corey Enright and Patrick Dangerfield after the preliminary final loss. Photo: Tracey Nearmy / AAP

Enright admitted last night the tears after Geelong’s preliminary-final loss were a strong sign that his AFL career was over.

But the Cats’ great said he only made the final decision on Sunday, after a week of soul-searching and conversations with several people inside and outside the club.

The three-time Geelong premiership player announced his retirement on Wednesday, after a club-record 332 games.

Geelong’s season ended with the preliminary-final loss to Sydney and Enright cried as he walked off the MCG, heightening speculation that the end was imminent.

Enright also admitted he had been thinking throughout this season that it might be his last.”It wasn’t until Sunday afternoon, after the grand final had finished and all the emotions had gone,” he said.

“But I guess being so emotional (after the preliminary final) actually tells you something – that maybe your time is up.

“So it probably did saying something to me, that my time was up, and I was thinking that way for most of the season.”

Enright is a six-time All-Australian player and has the rare distinction of earning the last of those selections in his final season.

He said there was a lot to ponder, given his form was still strong and the Cats would go into next season as premiership hopefuls.

“It wasn’t an easy decision, but (it’s) something I’m comfortable with right now,” he said.

“It was more about how I was feeling.

“I’m proud of the fact that I can go out on my terms and I guess still playing good footy, so that was something that sits pretty well with me.

“It wasn’t easy, playing in a preliminary final and getting so close, being a realistic chance next year to contend again.

“All those things, you take into consideration.”

Enright is unsure what he will do next – now the decision is made, he wants time to clear his head and have some family time.

The Cats wanted him to continue and Enright said several teammates had made that clear to him.

“It’s obviously hard when it comes from your teammates, who you love and you’ve played so much footy with,” he said.

“You hear them tug on your heartstrings a little bit and that clouds your decision, because you don’t want to let them down.”

After he told the club officially on Monday, Enright had a beer with captain Joel Selwood to explain the decision.

Not surprisingly, Enright also has the rare satisfaction of no major regrets about ending his career.

“I can sleep pretty well at night – I felt like I’ve given my all,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sydney small forward Ben McGlynn has also announced his retirement, five days after his last grand final disappointment.

While Swans coach John Longmire praised him for his leadership and commitment, McGlynn’s 171-game career was marred by rotten luck.

He missed out on Hawthorn’s 2008 premiership because of injury and then moved to Sydney in 2010.

A torn hamstring in the first week of the finals against Adelaide meant he also missed out on the Swans’ 2012 premiership.

McGlynn, 31, played in Sydney’s losing 2014 grand final side.

He was one of the Swans’ best in the preliminary final win over Geelong late last month, but had minimal impact in the grand final loss to the Western Bulldogs.

“Despite his relatively short stature (172cm), Ben had a big influence on the team both on and off the field,” Longmire said in a club statement.

“The way he played his football gave the team real energy. He was hard; he was committed; he really valued the things we value as a team and he did them really well.

“When Ben McGlynn was firing the team was a much better team, because he was able to make those around him better.”

McGlynn told teammates before last night’s club best and fairest function that he had decided not to keep playing.

Sydney Swans player Ben McGlynn signs autographs for fans during an open training session and fan day, at the Sydney Cricket Ground, in Sydney, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. The Sydney Swans will play the Western Bulldogs in the AFL Grand Final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts) NO ARCHIVING

Ben McGlynn signs autographs for fans during Grand Final week. Photo: Dan Himbrechts / AAP

He thanked the Swans and Hawks, adding family had been the biggest inspiration in his career.

“I’m especially going to miss running out and competing each weekend because that’s what I’ve always loved doing,” he said.

“But I’ve still got a lot of passion for the game and would love to stay involved in the industry.”

McGlynn played 44 games for the Hawks from 2006-10 and had a career total of 171.

His fellow Hawk-turned-Swan Josh Kennedy continued his amazing record in the club’s best and fairest award by winning last night’s Bob Skilton Medal for the third time.

Kennedy polled a club record 922 votes to clinch back-to-back medals and shade midfield colleague Dan Hannebery (913) and key defender Heath Grundy (865).

Brownlow Medal runner-up Luke Parker (834) won a tight battle for fourth ahead of two other All-Australian representatives Dane Rampe (833) and Lance Franklin (827).

-with AAP

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