Main content

Golden oldies: How your side's 30-plus players are travelling

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 9: Brent Harvey of the Kangaroos kicks for goal during the 2015 AFL round 19 match between the Melbourne Demons and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia on August 9, 2015. (Photo by Justine Walker/AFL Media)
Brent Harvey is set to tie Kevin Bartlett's 403 games this weekend and shows no sign of slowing

James Podsiadly (33) The key forward was turned into a defender early this year in a bid to fit him into the club's starting 22. An untimely back injury made that difficult, though, and while his form has steadily improved since, Podsiadly appears set to retire at season's end. He'll turn 34 in September and has unselfishly called on the Crows to play youth ahead of him. Given his experience and expertise, Adelaide could look to hang onto the J-Pod in some capacity next year.

Scott Thompson (32) Back-related hamstring issues might well have robbed Thompson of a third best and fairest award last year, but his form in 2015 also suggests he's capable of going round again. He's not as quick as he once was, but his ability to win the hard ball remains elite. He took out the Phillip Walsh Medal in round 16 as best on ground in the Showdown and has averaged more possessions than anyone at the Crows this year.

Brent Reilly (31) After a disappointing 2014 campaign Reilly needed a great season this year to demand a fresh contract, but was instead involved in a sickening training accident. He was accidentally hit in the head by a teammate and suffered a fractured skull that required emergency surgery. On advice from doctors he was forced to retire with 203 senior games to his name. - Harry Thring

Scott Thompson just keeps on turning out and racking up possessions, year after year. Picture: AFL Media

Brent Staker (31) Appears to be facing the end of his career after a difficult season. In six games as a key forward, Staker has been unable to kick a goal. Hampered by injuries over recent seasons, the likable utility has lost a touch of speed and will likely make way for younger forwards like Michael Close and Jono Freeman in 2016.

Matt Maguire (31) Was forced to retire earlier in the season after being unable to overcome concussion he suffered in a NEAFL match. Maguire played two games this year to take his career tally to 170. He defied the odds for much of his time in Brisbane, signing six successive one-year contracts and always being a reliable defender when called upon.

Daniel Merrett (30) A frustrating year for the long-time Lion, limited by a hamstring injury that sidelined him for three months. Merrett has returned in recent weeks to his favoured full-back position, and despite being a little rusty, has added some starch to the back six. He is still a crucial component to the backline, not only with his own form, but his ability to organise and take the pressure off younger defenders such as Justin Clarke and Harris Andrews. - Michael Whiting

Andrew Carrazzo (31) Out of contract at the end of this season, the midfielder is undecided about whether he will go again in 2016. He turns 32 in December and would be on 195 games if he plays the remaining four matches. Despite playing only 13 games this season, Carrazzo remains one of the Blues’ best inside midfielders and his experience would be invaluable as Patrick Cripps continues his development. It’s just a matter of whether Carrazzo believes his body can hold together after a series of injuries in the past four seasons and withstand another pre-season.

Kade Simpson (31) Although he has lost some pace, the durable Simpson remains one of the Blues’ most reliable players. Better suited up the ground these days rather than deep in defence, he is second behind skipper Marc Murphy for disposals at Carlton this season with 386. He leads the club for uncontested possessions (291), is second for average metres gained (100) and fourth for intercept possessions (76). Contracted until the end of next season, he has plenty to offer a developing team. - Howard Kotton 

Will Carlton keep experienced players, like Carrazzo, or commit totally to youth? Picture: AFL Media

Dane Swan (31) After being severely hampered by several ailments last year, an injury-free Swan has regularly produced something resembling his best football. The 2011 Brownlow medallist is racing his skipper Scott Pendlebury to a fourth club best and fairest, having played every game and averaging 29.3 possessions (12 contested), six clearances and a goal. In the win over Carlton on Saturday, Swan amassed 41 touches and three goals – the 13th time he has broken the 40 barrier. At this rate, and with the option to spend more time forward, Swan could easily play for at least another couple of seasons, by which stage he would be around the 300-game mark. - Ben Collins


Dustin Fletcher (40) The champion defender reached his 400th game in round nine against Richmond, but it turned out to be a disastrous night. It was an away game, Essendon lost, Fletcher got injured and he hasn't played since then as he battles an abdominal injury. The club hopes he can return to the senior team for at least one more appearance in front of the Essendon faithful.

Paul Chapman (33) It hasn't been an overly positive year for Chapman in his second season in the red and black. Injuries have kept him from having a consistent run in the senior team and he has recently been playing at VFL level. Looks set to retire at the end of the year after a glittering career.

Jason Winderlich (30) Winderlich's decision to overturn his call to retire at the end of last year hasn't turned out to be a successful one, as the electric forward has managed just one AFL game this season. The Bombers could have done with his speed and skill near goal throughout 2015, but an ongoing back injury and then a shin complaint has kept him from making any impact.

Jobe Watson (30) Watson has endured another season in the spotlight as the face of the Essendon players at the centre of the supplements saga. He admitted it saw him fall out of love with the game, and that was easy to tell on the field as he struggled to reach his brilliant standards of recent seasons. A shoulder injury he aggravated in his 200th game required surgery and put Watson out for the second half of the year.

Brendon Goddard (30) The midfielder has played every game in his third year with Essendon, and has picked up his form after a lull mid-season. Goddard gathered just seven disposals in Essendon's 110-point loss to his old team St Kilda in round 12, but since then has averaged 29 disposals in five weeks. Goddard is contracted to the end of 2016.  - Callum Twomey 

Luke McPharlin (33) Given McPharlin considered retiring at the end of 2014, it would take a significant turnaround for him to now go on into a 17th season. Still, more support in the backline to take the load off the veteran could convince him to play on with the lure of a premiership. He has played more than expected this season, notching 16 of a possible 18 games to account for injuries in Freo's backline. That could take its toll and be a factor in the All Australian's decision.  

Matthew Pavlich (33) When Pavlich signed a one-year deal to play on in 2015, he cited the "law of diminishing returns" to explain his output would soon drop off. His goal returns have dropped below two a game this season for the first since he played as a midfielder in 2011, and his average disposals (14.33) are also at their lowest since 2001. He has, however, played all 18 games and has said he'll keep playing as long as his mind and body are willing. He would still be of great value and the lure of a premiership in 2016 could keep him hungry.    

Aaron Sandilands (32) Contracted until the end of 2016 and still among the AFL's elite ruckmen, Sandilands isn't ready to call time on a great career. After a string of injuries between 2011-13 kept him to 37 games in three seasons, he has missed just one game in the past two years. His decision to play on is crucial to keep Fremantle in the premiership hunt, but it could mean young ruckman Zac Clarke seeks more opportunities elsewhere after a long spell in the WAFL this season.       

Ryan Crowley (31) Banned for 12 months after he breached the AFL's anti-doping code, the tagger has not played a game this season and won't be available until the weekend of the preliminary finals. He returned to training with the Dockers late last month, and one thing in Crowley's favour is that he has taken a year out of the bash and crash of football to freshen his body. Fremantle looks a better team without a hard tagger though, meaning the club could pass on offering him another contract.

Paul Duffield (30) Once a mainstay in the Dockers' back six, Duffield has admitted his form this season has been disappointing as he has slipped in and out of the side. Coming out of contract and playing in the WAFL for the past month, it is possible he will retire at the end of the season unless the club decides he would provide valuable depth and experience to guide the club's young defenders.

David Mundy (30) An elite midfielder with at least two years of good football ahead of him, Mundy became a Docker for life when he signed a contract extension until the end of 2017. Hasn't missed a game in two seasons, ranking No.7 in the AFL for contested possessions (13.1 a game) and No.6 for clearances (7.1) this year. 

Michael Johnson (30) The versatile defender has missed the past nine matches with a hamstring injury, but he is on the cusp of returning. Was excellent in the first half of the season and was duly rewarded with a contract extension until the end of 2017. All Australian in 2013 and still capable of reaching those levels when fit. - Nathan Schmook

Would a flag be enough to see the old Dockers happily retire? Picture: AFL Media

Corey Enright (33) Will almost certainly retire at the end of this season after becoming just the third Cat to reach 300 games earlier in the year. Enright, who is averaging 22.1 disposals per game, is still a gun and clearly in Geelong's best 22. However he has indicated that 2015 is likely to be his final season.

Steve Johnson (32) Johnson is keen to go on, although much will depend on his form in the latter half of this year and, possibly, in this year's finals. Johnson had a quiet start to the year but has been playing much better of late. The Cats must weigh up whether the star forward fits in with their plans, considering they want to get games into Darcy Lang, Cory Gregson, Nakia Cockatoo, Daniel Menzel and Lincoln McCarthy.

Jimmy Bartel (31) The Brownlow medallist is almost certain to receive a new contract. If not for a serious knee injury at the start of the season, Bartel would likely have enjoyed a solid season. His football instincts, in particular in clutch moments, make him a valuable member of the team moving forward.

James Kelly (31) Kelly wants to play on and has shown in several games this year that he is still a more than capable AFL player. However, Geelong's desire to blood more of its young midfielders, such as Dean Gore and Jarrad Jansen, as well as the potential acquisitions of Patrick Dangerfield and Scott Selwood, could mean there are limited spots available on the list.  

Tom Lonergan (31) Contracted until the end of next season and still an essential part of the Cats' defensive setup. Stands the opposition's best forward every week and is rarely beaten. His importance to Geelong's structure is often understated and he could well play beyond 2016.

Andrew Mackie (31) Set to play on after proving himself as a vital member of Geelong's back six this season. A quad injury laid him low earlier in the year but he is starting to hit a strong patch of form. Still offers run and carry, which remains a key element of Geelong's game style.

Jared Rivers (30) Stated recently that he is "90 per cent sure" he will retire at the end of this season. A degenerative knee issue has kept Rivers to just 11 games, although his defensive work remains a key asset. Back playing in the VFL at present, with young defender Jake Kolodjashnij the preferred option as the third tall backman.

Hamish McIntosh (30) Announced his retirement late last month after a recurrence of an ankle injury. McIntosh played 19 games in three seasons on Geelong's list, adding to the 107 he played at North Melbourne. Persistent injuries meant the Cats never got to see the best of him.

Mathew Stokes (30) Stokes found himself in the football wilderness after being dropped when the Cats faced Greater Western Sydney in round 17. He has since worked his way back into the side after displaying strong form at VFL level, but is by no means a lock in Geelong's best 22 this season. As such, he will be under pressure to retain his spot on the list ­- Ben Guthrie

The Cats face tough calls with club legends like Bartel, Enright and Johnson. Picture: AFL Media

Gary Ablett (31) A frustrating year for the skipper, playing just six games. His reconstructed shoulder took time to heal properly, and then just when he started returning to his best, Ablett suffered a season-ending knee injury. Showed enough in that handful of appearances to remind everyone he's still the game's best player and had not lost any speed, strength or evasion. The best news for Gold Coast this year was Ablett signing on until the end of 2018.

Nick Malceski (30) Came as a big name free agent signing from the Swans, but has largely had a poor first year. Malceski had a cyst behind his knee that at first limited him, and then sidelined him for six weeks. The laser-like left foot he built his reputation on has been sadly astray, but in recent games he has shown glimpses of returning to his best, with his kicking improving dramatically. Malceski still has two years to run on his contract. - Michael Whiting

Joel Patfull (30) The dual Brisbane Lions club champion has been a fantastic pick up for the Giants, and was in great form before having his ribs accidentally caved in by teammate Matt Buntine in round 11 against Collingwood. Patfull's experience was just what GWS needed in defence, and he's combined well with co-captain Phil Davis and Heath Shaw to stabilise the backline and give support to young key position players Nick Haynes and Aidan Corr. Patfull is the only player over 30 on the Giant's list, and his cool head will be vital for GWS with its finals hopes on the line in the next fortnight. - Adam Curley

Brian Lake (33): Still liable for the odd brain-fade, but in the big games against the monster forwards, he stands up beautifully. He still has the touch, the strength and the judgement and he remains one of Hawthorn's most important players heading in to the finals. Was rested from the trip to Perth last week – a calculated risk – but will be back to stare down Geelong's Tom Hawkins on Saturday night in the clash that could determine Hawthorn's top-two hopes. Lake desperately wants a new contract next year, but the club has yet to declare its hand.

Sam Mitchell (32): The midfield maestro is showing no signs of slowing down and is enjoying one of his best seasons. Averaging 26 disposals a game for his career before this year, that figure has jumped to 30.7 in 2015. Mitchell remains a key member of the deep and diverse Hawthorn midfield set-up but increasingly his best work comes across half-back, where his incredible football smarts and equal abilities on both sides of his body sets up the play for the Hawks. In the top five in Brownlow betting once again, and on track for a fifth best and fairest. Mitchell is contracted for next season.

Shaun Burgoyne (32): Here's the thing about the player they call 'Silk'. He rarely plays a bad game for the Hawks. He made some uncharacteristic skill errors against Richmond a fortnight ago but then came roaring back with an excellent outing against West Coast including two brilliant and vitally important goals. Considering he joined the Hawks with a dicky knee in 2010, he has been remarkably durable and has played the last 51 consecutive games for the club. Another who is signed and sealed for next season.

Luke Hodge (31): His hardness and leadership remain critical for the Hawks and he remains arguably the best captain in the league. The only downside for Hodge was his three-week suspension for a clash involving North's Andrew Swallow, but even then the absence has helped keep him fresh and on the ground ever since. Hodge saves some of his best footy for road games and his form in the big wins over Adelaide, the Sydney Swans and West Coast was top-shelf. Looks primed for another big September and is contracted again to play next year.

David Hale (31): Started the season slowly because of injury but the big man stepped in against Melbourne in round seven and didn't miss a game until being rested against the Eagles on Saturday. Hale is still an important player for the Hawks because he offers plenty both in the ruck and as a marking target close to goal. He played those roles particularly well in the slogging win over Adelaide in round 12. At this stage he is uncontracted for 2016 and the feeling is he will retire at season's end.

Josh Gibson (31): An integral part of the Hawthorn backline, part lock-down defender, part third-man up, part quarterback. In the ideal Hawthorn set-up, James Frawley and Brian Lake take the two best opposition forwards, leaving Gibson to be third man-up and to be the set-up man out of the backline. He continues to defy his "man about town" image and is one of the hardest workers at the club and meticulous with his preparation. Would appear to have a couple of good seasons left. - Ashley Browne

How long can Hawthorn keep its ageing list at the top? Seemingly forever. Picture: AFL Media

Daniel Cross (32) Cross has been a consistent performer who has tagged and played as a loose man in defence this season. As Paul Roos said on Sunday, Cross' contribution to the club in his two years at the Demons has been above and beyond what was required. Whether he continues, remains a conversation the club is having with the ex-Bulldog as the year winds down.

Mark Jamar (32) The veteran has been forced from the No.1  ruck spot after holding it down for a number of years. He has played five games and has been doing well enough in the VFL to be named as an emergency in recent weeks. Jamar is still hopeful of continuing and could have something to offer for clubs lacking depth in their ruck stocks if Melbourne feels it can do without him. - Peter Ryan

Brent Harvey (37) North has not rushed into a decision on the 400-gamer's future and coach Brad Scott has repeatedly said the veteran has to demonstrate he can continue to play a role for the team – especially defensively – to play on next year. But the veteran's form and body remain sound, while he remains one of North's few genuine game-breakers, so we expect he will continue in 2016 and most likely break Michael Tuck's AFL record of 426 games.

Drew Petrie (32) Remains North's primary aerial target in attack and should re-sign for 2016 soon. Petrie has been remarkably durable since returning from the foot injuries that ruined his 2010 season, missing just two games since, both of them through suspension. He is tied with Shaun Higgins atop North's goalkicking table this season (31), while he continues to apply elite defensive pressure for a key forward.

Jarrad Waite (32) The former Blue struggled for consistency early this season but his outstanding form over the past five rounds suggests North's decision to offer him a two-year deal in last October's free agency period will be vindicated. Has kicked 28 goals this season (ranked fourth at North) but it has been his dramatically improved defensive pressure that has most pleased North's coaching staff recently. 

Michael Firrito (31) Out of contract at the end of this season but likely to play on after a solid 2015. The versatile defender had not missed a game this year until he sat out last Sunday's win over Melbourne through suspension, and would offer the Roos a wise head and hardened body in defence in 2016 while young backmen Daniel Nielson and Sam Durdin develop. 

Nick Dal Santo (31) Has not missed a beat since returning from hamstring surgery in round 12, averaging 27.9 possessions and 5.4 possessions a game. Contracted to the end of 2016 but looks capable of extending his career beyond then. Remains one of North's most assured ball-users and before this year's injury had played 104 consecutive games. 

Daniel Wells (30) The star midfielder has been hobbled by injury over the past two years, with a Lisfranc foot injury limiting him to 10 games last season while Achilles tendon soreness has sidelined him since round two. Wells' run and class would be gladly welcomed back into the Roos' midfield but time is running out for him to return this year. The West Australian is contracted to the end of next season and will be hoping to escape his injury curse in 2016.

Nathan Grima (30) The key defender retired last month after finally succumbing to a degenerative back condition. Played 86 games in an eight-season career plagued by injury, but from 2009 was one of the Roos' most reliable defenders. - Nick Bowen

Whether Petrie, Harvey and Firitto stay may depend on the Roos finals campaign. Picture: AFL Media

Kane Cornes (32) Despite shutting down Hawthorn's Sam Mitchell and Adelaide's Rory Sloane in rounds four and five, Cornes felt as though the game had caught up with him. He decided to end his career on his own terms and joined the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service after round eight. He'll be remembered as one of the club's greatest servants – an equal-record four-time best and fairest and a place getter on 10 occasions, a 2004 premiership player and a 300-gamer. A Port Adelaide legend.

Jay Schulz (30) The sharpshooter has been a little down this year, reflecting the Power's ordinary season. As a full-forward Schulz finishes the work of his teammates and so can't be criticised too heavily for not impacting the scoreboard as much as he did last year, although in saying that he's still on track to pass 40 goals for the fourth-straight season. He's out of contract and has been linked elsewhere but his teammates want him to remain with the Power. 

Tom Logan (30) A fierce competitive spirit and the determination to get the best out of himself saw Logan reach 100 senior games in 2012, which was a tremendous effort. He was delisted and then re-rookied, with coach Ken Hinkley keen to retain his experience even though he's no longer in AFL calculations. He's a terrific role model to any young player and so could again be rookie listed next year given he's still a great SANFL player. - Harry Thring

Chris Newman (33) The oldest player on the Tigers' list, Newman is yet to decide if he will play on, saying he will leave that decision until the end of the season. After a two-week spell in the VFL mid-season, he has held his spot for seven weeks and played a role across half-forward. He said last month he'd "have to be playing some pretty good footy to play on", and the Tigers' emerging youngsters could force him out of the 22. - Nathan Schmook  

Sam Fisher (33) Weighed-up retiring at the end of 2014 but his early-season form, highlighted by a 28-disposal and eight-mark effort against Gold Coast in round two, justified the decision to go on. Still holds down a key defensive post – an area in which the Saints are relatively thin – and after playing 14 games has shown enough to strongly consider going on into 2016 while the likes of Hugh Goddard continue to develop.

Nick Riewoldt (32) It's been a challenging year like no other for the skipper following the passing of his sister Madeleine in February after a long illness battle. Riewoldt has bravely soldiered on and booted 25 goals from 13 games, with the Saints losing all four matches he's missed due to calf and concussion issues. Will captain his 200th game next year in the final season of his current contract.

Leigh Montagna (31) The gun midfielder continues to produce the goods and has become a bigger attacking threat this year, getting forward to hit the scoreboard and delivering the ball inside 50 more often. Montagna has also boosted his average disposals to an equal club-high 29 per game alongside ball magnet David Armitage. Will go around again next season.

Sean Dempster (31) Unassuming defender says he wants to help the young Saints climb back up the ladder, and his form warrants a new deal. The 2005 premiership player is finding more of the footy (18 disposals per game) compared to last season, when he finished third in the best and fairest, and continues to offer run and creativity from the back half (four rebound 50s per game).

Adam Schneider (31) Has offered valuable depth as a small forward and mentor for the likes of Jack Lonie and Jack Sinclair after being delisted and re-drafted as a rookie last year for list management reasons. Has played 14 matches for seven majors and averages a goal assist each game. Not part of the long-term plans and his future is up in the air, but could be retained as a rookie after a solid campaign. - Travis King

Adam Goodes (35) It's been a tough season for the Swans champ, who dropped himself to the NEAFL early in the season but fought his way back into the team and was in good touch before the boos from opposition fans became too much. The 366-game star is expected to make the 2015 season his last, so the dual Brownlow medallist will be hoping to add a third flag to his collection and retire with one of the game's greatest resumes.

Rhyce Shaw (33) Still carries the footy with pace, but is part of an experienced Swans defence that has struggled with consistency at times this season. The 2012 premiership backman will turn 34 this year and will probably go around again in 2016 if he can finish off the season in decent form.

Ted Richards (32) Another elder statesman down back for the Swans, Richards has struggled at times in one-on-one battles against the opposition's biggest forwards, but has still been a solid performer. Missed a week with a nasty concussion but is on track to reach game 250 in round 22 and should play on next year.

Mike Pyke (31) The big Canadian started off the year with some good form working in tandem with Kurt Tippett, but a knee injury has affected his performance over the past two months. Pyke has missed four of the last seven games and if the knee doesn't respond in the next fortnight, he might not be forced to decide on his future beyond 2015.

Jarrad McVeigh (30) The co-captain is one of his side's most valuable players but like the rest of the side, has battled with consistency this year. McVeigh has been at his best as a rebounding half-back where his vision and poise has been a standout. Averaging 23 touches per game in 2015 and last week went to fifth on the Swans' all-time games played list.

Ben McGlynn (30) It has been a nightmare season for McGlynn, who has managed just seven games thanks to soft tissue injuries, which started in the pre-season. The Swans have missed his pace and defensive pressure both in the midfield and inside their forward 50. Played six of the first nine games, but has been seen just once since. - Adam Curley

Whether he retires or not Adam Goodes has done everything in football and more. Picture: AFL Media

Matt Priddis (30) The reigning Brownlow medallist has taken his game to another level this season with the benefit of a dominant ruckman and more midfield help. Priddis is averaging more disposals and clearances, plus his disposal efficiency has improved by 5 per cent. Leads the Eagles' on-ball division and there's no reason why he couldn't go on beyond his current contract, which expires at the end of 2016. Priddis is the only 30-plus player on West Coast's list, a promising sign for the future. - Travis King

Matthew Boyd (32) There was a period late in 2014 where the hard-nosed veteran though his impressive career was close to ending, but in the end the Dogs signed him up. A masterstroke by Luke Beveridge to play the prolific ball-winner across half-back in 2015 sees Boyd in All Australian form.  His ability to read the play and distribute the ball efficiently has been a major factor in the Dogs' limiting opposition scoring. His team-first approach is a great example to his young teammates and he looks likely to play on next year.

Robert Murphy (32) The evergreen veteran has been in career-best form since taking on the captaincy and is a chance to claim a second All Australian jumper. His run off half-back is a crucial in Beveridge's 'fast footy' game-plan and his infectious love of the game has spread throughout his young team. He is already signed up for 2016, but looks to have a few mores years in him yet.

Dale Morris (32) The versatile defender has been as reliable as ever in 2015 and is still a key plank in the underrated Bulldogs' backline. Statistically, he's the AFL's best defender as he's remarkably lost only two of 22 contests he's engaged in this season. The 203-game stalwart has played mainly on the smaller forwards this season, but has also needed to play tall with injuries to the Dogs' young key defenders. A certainty to go on next season.

Will Minson (30) The Bulldogs favourite has struggled for opportunities in 2015 and has spent considerable time in the VFL. He is contracted for next year, but has seen Tom Campbell and Ayce Cordy preferred ahead of him at times. Minson's thrashing of GWS star Shane Mumford in round nine showed he still has plenty to offer at senior level.

Brett Goodes (31) The rookie-listed veteran played six matches early in the season before a broken arm in round eight derailed his season. With the popular clubman unlikely to feature in the young Bulldogs' run to September, he faces an uphill battle to play on at Whitten Oval in 2016. - Ryan Davidson

Murphy and Boyd have had a massive influence on the direction of the young Dogs. Picture: AFL Media