DUAL premiership Sydney Swans legend Jude Bolton has announced his retirement from AFL football.
Bolton, who will hang up the boots at season’s end, was joined by coach John Longmire, family and friends at a media conference today.
After being drafted by the Swans at pick eight in 1998, Bolton has enjoyed a distinguished and decorated career spanning 15 years and has become an integral part of the Swans’ premiership drive.
“This will be my final season with the club, it has been a great journey and I have enjoyed every moment. I was extremely lucky to be drafted to the club as an 18-year-old,” Bolton said.
Having debuted in 1999, the same year as fellow club stalwart Adam Goodes, Bolton has amassed 321 games, all for the Bloods – the second-most by a Swan behind Goodes who has 331.
Not the biggest player on the field, Bolton is renowned for his hard work and tenacity. He has earned the reputation of being one of the most feared tacklers in the game, throwing self-preservation out the window on countless occasions.
His name would usually sit atop the tackles column of the statistics – he holds the record for making the most tackles in the history of the game with 1467 over his career.
“I’m acutely aware of my body 12 months down the track I don’t know how it would be if I had a setback along the way, I might have a mid-season retirement,” Bolton said.
“The other thing is I’m aware of our list. We’ve got some great talent coming through hopefully they can continue to push in.
“That’s what I want to see, that’s the footy life cycle and it’s just the turnover of the list.”
There will be emotion-charged scenes this Friday night when the 33-year-old plays his last regular-season game against competition front-runners Hawthorn at Stadium Australia.
“I am really appreciative of the support I have had over the journey,” Bolton said.
Coach John Longmire summed it up best: “You don’t replace a Jude Bolton.”
Bolton’s tireless work ethic and hard-at-the-ball approach has led many people to comment that he entered the game looking pretty, but would not leave it that way.
He won’t mind what he looks like if he lifts the premiership trophy on the last Saturday in September, giving the fans a swan song to remember.