BYRON Pickett retired from AFL football on Friday afternoon,
citing his waning passion for the game as the main reason for his decision to draw
the curtain on his 204–game career.
Pickett was joined by fellow retirees Clint Bizzell and
Nathan Brown when he made the announcement at Junction Oval, with all three set
to play one final match for the club against Carlton on Sunday.
“I’ve been thinking it over the last month or two, and
probably mentally I wasn’t there,” Pickett said.
“I just think it’s not in my heart to keep playing at this
level, so I think that was the main thing.
“I spoke to my parents and my fiancée over the past two
weeks and they all supported my decision.
“It’s not worth playing without heart.”
Pickett, 30, started his career at the Kangaroos after they
selected him in the fourth round of the 1996 NAB AFL National Draft. He played
the majority of his career at Arden
Street, where he won the 1998 NAB Rising Star
award, was All-Australian in 1999 and was a member of the premiership winning
side of the same year.
He switched to Port Adelaide at the end of 2002 and was part
of the club’s inaugural premiership in 2004. He won the Norm Smith Medal in the
Pickett was traded to Melbourne
following the 2005 season where he will finish having played 29 games in two
“When I first started, I reckon I was pretty lucky to break
into a team that was known as one of the teams of the 1990s,” he said.
“I was lucky to play in two Grand Finals there and win one.
I played in a Port Adelaide premiership and I think on the day there were about
three of us that could have got the Norm Smith Medal, but I was the lucky one I
“But over the years, you win friends for life, it doesn’t matter
what team it is. I didn’t play in a premiership here and I’ve only been here
for two years but it feels like I’ve been here for five or six years; that’s
how close the boys are.”
Bizzell played 75 games with Geelong before switching to the Demons, with his
career match tally set to end on 163.
“I was pretty much cooked,” Bizzell said.
“It’s been 12 years of just totally hammering the body
physically and mentally. Physically I was pretty done and also mentally, just
that desire to keep that fully competitive edge slowly withered away and I
thought it was a good time to go out.
He said he had begun to assess his future after being sent
back to Sandringham following his last game
against the Kangaroos at Telstra Dome, with a household mishap later reinforcing
his decision to retire.
“My fiancée threw me a banana when I was having some
breakfast and I totally missed it,” he said drawing laughs from the gathered
“It landed in my Weet-Bix, which went everywhere, and I said
to myself ‘Clint, you’ve probably had enough’.”
Brown had an equally entertaining spin on his own decision
to pull up stumps.
“I sit in meetings now and it’s like Homer Simpson; ‘Blah,
blah, blah’,” Brown said.
“It’s like that, and I don’t reckon you should be doing
“With the demands of AFL footy, you have to give it 110 per
cent and I guess, mentally, I didn’t really know if I could go through with
“I’m playing pretty good footy but it’s just the right time
for me. I’ve got a young family; I love my life, I love my wife.
“I got 10 years at this great club and life membership.”
All three were keen to go out with a win against the Blues
and backed the playing group to bounce back strongly from a disappointing
season in 2008.