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UPDATE: Docker duo call time on careers

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Dockers Michael Johnson (left) and Danyle Pearce have announced their retirements - AFL,Fremantle Dockers,Danyle Pearce,Retirements,Michael Johnson
Dockers Michael Johnson (left) and Danyle Pearce have announced their retirements

RETIRING midfielder Danyle Pearce says he turned down a Fremantle farewell game so a younger teammate could have his spot.

The 32-year-old is also hellbent on ensuring back-to-back premier Peel qualifies for a fourth-straight WAFL finals campaign with victory over West Coast-aligned East Perth on Saturday.

Pearce will be absent when Dockers stalwart Michael Johnson plays his 244th and final match against Collingwood at Optus Stadium, the 33-year-old also announcing his retirement on Friday.

Pearce has only made three AFL appearances this year, and none since coach Ross Lyon vowed to "double down" on Freo's rebuild after the round 10 home loss to North Melbourne.

"The club are in an exciting time. They're rebuilding and they've got a lot of young blokes coming through and it’s great to see them have the opportunity and show what they can do," Pearce said.

"I've played 95 per cent of (the season) at Peel. We're in a really solid chase at the moment to make the finals. 

"I feel very physically and mentally invested with Peel this year. I look forward to getting out there, getting a win and getting over the line to play finals."

Pearce hangs up the boots after a 258-game career, including 154 at original club Port Adelaide.

Freo's indigenous players share the moment. Picture: Michael Willson

He was the 2006 NAB AFL Rising Star winner after starting his career as a rookie after being overlooked in the '04 national draft.

Pearce played in two Grand Finals, including the Power's 119-point hammering from Geelong in 2007.

After switching to Freo as a restricted free agent at the end of 2012, he helped the Dockers into their maiden Grand Final the next season, and booted a goal from 17 touches in the gut-wrenching 15-point loss to Hawthorn.

Pearce had been unfairly maligned as a "whipping boy" in recent seasons, Lyon said on Thursday, but the veteran found enjoyment at Peel developing youngsters.

"You’d think it this would make it harder but it's actually made it easier," Pearce said. 

"We’ve got a lot of great boys who have come in and I wish them nothing but the best for their future.

"To get around the young boys like Darcy Tucker, Ed Langdon and this year's draftees like Stef Giro, Mitch Crowden and Tom North, that's made it an exciting change.

"Hopefully, in another 10 years' time they’ll still be playing and going well and I’ll know I was there at the start to direct them in the right way.

"That would be nice to look back on."

Johnson, arguably the club's greatest Indigenous representative, will end his career level with champion defender Luke McPharlin on games played in purple.

An emotional Michael Johnson speaks to his teammates. Picture: Michael Willson


Johnson was All Australian in 2013 when the Dockers reached the season-decider and enjoyed a formidable partnership with McPharlin during the club's most successful era.

He finished third in the Doig Medal on three occasions, including in his second season in 2006.

Johnson decided to retire early in the season, but kept playing and finished his career strongly after spending five games at WAFL level mid-year.  

"I’ve known for a while that it’s best for me to move on and allow the young players on the list to get more games and more minutes," Johnson said.

"I feel I’ve left a good legacy for this playing group and for this club, so I’m excited and I can’t wait for my next chapter.

"It is tough to actually retire and give it up but I think the new crop of backmen now, with Alex Pearce and Joel Hamling leading the way, I think they’ve got something special.  

"They’re a really young group and, hopefully, they’ve learnt something from us who have represented before them."

Pearce and Johnson follow Lee Spurr into retirement.

Fellow over-30s David Mundy, Aaron Sandilands and Hayden Ballantyne have signed one-year deals to play on next season.