FREMANTLE veteran Hayden Ballantyne will be farewelled alongside close mate Aaron Sandilands against Essendon, following confirmation he won't be offered a contract extension.
As recently as last weekend, Ballantyne spoke of his hope about playing on in purple in 2020.
But the Dockers have pulled the plug on that dream, and brought him back into the line-up to say goodbye to home fans at Optus Stadium this Saturday night.
Hayden Ballantyne will bid farewell to Fremantle at the end of this season. Picture: AFL Photos
"Hayden has always been hugely popular with our players, respected for his leadership and admired for his incredible determination and tenacity," football boss Peter Bell said.
"He is also much loved by our members and supporters who will no doubt give him a rousing send-off.
"Hayden wants to continue his playing career, if possible, in 2020 and we were not in a position to offer him a contract extension.
"His management has advised that Hayden wants to remain in the AFL system and pursue a playing or off-field role."
The Bombers clash will be just the third appearance for the season for Ballantyne, who pinged his hamstring in round one and was dropped after his return match three weeks ago.
The 32-year-old will be remembered as one of the most competitive and pesky Dockers, and a fan favourite who bled purple.
He came to the elite level late as a 21-year-old after winning the 2008 Sandover Medal, and forged a potent one-two punch with Michael Walters during Fremantle's most successful era.
Hayden Ballantyne and Michael Walters formed a potent forward combination. Picture: AFL Photos
Ballantyne booted more than 30 goals in a season four times, including a career-high 49 in 2014 when he was named All Australian.
He currently sits third on the Dockers' all-time goalkicking list with 254 majors from 170 matches, behind Matthew Pavlich (700) and Walters (256).
Ballantyne's inclusion alongside Sandilands in Walters' 150th career match ensures a marquee occasion in Freo's final home game for 2019, with finals all-but out of reach.
"As big Aaron said a couple of days ago, it’s all over," Ballantyne said.
Aaron Sandilands and Hayden Ballantyne will both bid farewell to the club this year. Picture: AFL Photos
"I’ll be finishing up at Freo this year. It’s not a retirement as such, I’ll still be hoping to play footy next year, and whether that’s at AFL or WAFL level, that’s still to be decided. I’ve loved my time at the club, and I wish everyone all the best for the future.
"It’s been a great ride and I just have one more to go.
"To the players, thanks a lot to everyone for all the help and support along the way and, hopefully, Freo get back to being a dominant force again very soon."