Farmer, 'The Wizard' calls it quits

By Steve Lavell 7:53 PM Tue 02 September, 2008

Fremantle forward Jeff Farmer lines up for goal in the round-22 clash with Collingwood

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AFTER 249 games and 483 goals for Melbourne and Fremantle, Jeff Farmer has announced his retirement.

Farmer, 31, met with senior coach Mark Harvey and general manager of football operations Chris Bond on Tuesday, where it was decided that his 14-year career would come to an end.

"After talking to Mark and Chris today, it is clear that the club is moving in a different direction and I have decided after a 14-year career to retire from the AFL," he said in a statement released by the club.

"I am grateful and feel privileged to have played for so long at the highest level of the game.

"I’d like to thank both the Fremantle and Melbourne football clubs for the opportunities they have given me to fulfil my childhood dream.

"Among the things I have really enjoyed throughout my career are the camaraderie of my team mates, the guidance of my coaches and the loyalty and support of fans at Fremantle and Melbourne."

Farmer joined Fremantle at the end of 2001, a year after he won All-Australian selection, kicked 76 goals and played in Melbourne's grand final loss to Essendon.

A defining performance came with eight goals in the 2000 preliminary final against North Melbourne, complementing a bag of nine against Collingwood, another haul of eight and two more of seven that same year.

As a Fremantle player, Farmer's best return was a seven-goal effort against his former club in round six, 2005.

Originally from the West Australian town of Tambellup, Farmer was a zone selection for Fremantle ahead of its inaugural season in the competition, but was traded to the Demons in exchange for Phil Gilbert.

He earned an AFL Rising Star nomination in his second season, en route to establishing himself as one of the competition's most dangerous small forwards and earning the nickname 'The Wizard'.

Farmer shared Melbourne's goalkicking honours in 1997, led the club in 1998 – encouraging his selection for the International Rules Series – and did so again in 2000.

He played 14 games in 2001 before returning to Perth in a trade for pick 17 in the NAB AFL Draft.

Though his initial impact at his new club was down on expectations, he showed flashes of brilliance in his first four seasons, with a combined 127 goals heightened by 55 in 2006 and a key role in steering Fremantle to a preliminary final.

However, his 2007 season was marred by suspension, including six weeks imposed by the club for an off-field incident, and he made just eight appearances.

He responded with 20 games and 23 goals this year and was one of Fremantle's best players in its upset of finals-bound Collingwood at Subiaco Oval last Friday night.

Farmer admitted in a post-match interview that a decision was looming on his future and confirmed in Tuesday's statement that he was leaving Fremantle on good terms.

"I will always take a great interest in Fremantle and wish everyone at the club all the very best for the future," he said.

Harvey also paid tribute to Farmer and his difficult decision to retire.

"Jeff has made a great contribution to the game throughout his career and has been one of those players who people come to watch at the footy," he said.

Chief executive officer Steve Rosich confirmed that Farmer had chosen not to conduct a media conference to announce his decision and that members and supporters would be given an opportunity to farewell him.

"The club looks forward to assisting Jeff with his transition from full-time football to the next stage of his career," Rosich said.

Farmer is the sixth Fremantle player to retire this year, following Peter Bell, Shaun McManus, Heath Black, Matthew Carr and Mark Johnson.

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