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Axe falls at Hawthorn with cult hero among seven cut

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 02: Matt Spangher of the Hawks poses for a portrait during the Hawthorn Hawks official team photo day at the Ricoh Centre in Melbourne, Australia on February 02, 2016. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
Matt Spangher is among seven Hawks delisted

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POPULAR Hawthorn swingman Matt Spangher is one of seven players delisted by the club on Friday as the playing list for 2017 continues to take shape.

In a surprise move, Jack Fitzpatrick departs the club after one season – and one moment of greatness – while defender Angus Litherland and midfielder Zac Webster have also been cut from the primary list.

Rookie-listed players Lachlan Langford, Jermaine Miller-Lewis and Alex Woodward have also been released. 

The Hawks haven't ruled out re-drafting any of the players, saying they'll make a decision closer to the drafts.

Spangher joined the Hawks in 2013 after 26 games for West Coast and six for Sydney. He became an instant fan favourite at the Hawks, missing out on the flag that year but cementing a spot in the side the following year. 

He received a huge ovation when he received his premiership medal, firstly because of the role he played as a key backman that year and also because he had been so close to winning a flag previously with the Eagles, Swans and Hawks.

But his last two seasons were cruelled by injury and he managed just four games in 2015 and just one this year – in which he shredded his hamstring in the opening minute at the Gabba in round 10.

It is understood he will pursue opportunities as a development coach should he not be re-drafted.

Ruck/forward Fitzpatrick played three games for the Hawks this year – round 23 and both finals - after 22 with Melbourne before that. He kicked one of the goals of the season on debut against Collingwood in the dying minutes after winning the centre clearance and bombing a long goal from outside 50 metes, a goal that ended up securing Hawthorn the double chance entering the finals.

Litherland played 25 matches as a tall, athletic defensive flanker over six seasons with the Hawks, but after 13 games in 2014 could only manage six in each of the last two seasons. 

He found it too difficult to cement a regular berth with the Hawks but is keen to play on in 2017 if he can find a new football home as a delisted free agent or rookie.

The pacy Webster was unable to play a senior game and was troubled by soft tissue injuries in his three seasons at the club.

Woodward's delisting brings to an end a desperately unlucky time at the football club. He tore his ACL three times and the ball-winning midfielder could only manage two senior games since joining the club in 2012 despite showing glimpses of real talent.

 

Lewis-Miller only featured at VFL level, as did Langford, the son of former champion defender Chris, and the brother of midfielder Will, who was a speculative rookie draft selection two years ago.

“We would like to thank all players for their contribution and commitment during their time at Hawthorn and wish them all the best for the future," said Hawthorn list manager Graham Wright. 

“We would particularly like to acknowledge Matt Spangher, who departs a premiership player, for his service to the club over the last four years."

With Fitzpatrick gone and Jonathan Ceglar likely to miss the season as he recovers from ACL surgery, the Hawks appear set to sign another ruckman during the forthcoming delisted free agent period.

Former Western Bulldog Will Minson could be a candidate if the Hawks went down that path with former Docker Jack Hannath another candidate although pickings are slim. Hawthorn could also try to draft Casey Scorpion Oscar McInerney, although he is a chance to be gone well before its first pick in the NAB AFL Draft or it could rookie another state league ruckman such as North Ballarat’s Rowan Marshall or Claremont’s Darcy Cameron. 

Rookie-listed midfielder Kade Stewart, who played three AFL games this year, is also in line for elevation to the primary list.

Fellow rookie Shem Tatupu left the club earlier this year but was formally released on Friday.