MATTHEW LAPPIN, DARRYL WAKELIN RETIRE
By Ben Jensen CARLTON'S MATTHEW LAPPIN and Port Adelaide's Darryl Wakeline announced their retirements today. Lappin has played his last AFL game, after 251 game vetern with the Blues and St Kilda. Lappin injured his back in Round 20 and will not play on Sunday. Meanwhile Darryl Wakelin has a slim chance of adding to his 259 career games with the Saints and the Power, should he recover from an injury suffered in the win over Geelong on Sunday, and his side progresses far enough into the finals series.
(PORT ADELAIDE MEDIA RELEASE)
An emotional Wakelin spoke to his teammates around midday today behind closed doors at Alberton before making the announcement to the media.
The veteran of 259 AFL games at St Kilda and Port Adelaide injured his adductor in the Power's win over Geelong on Sunday but remains hopeful his career is not quite over and he will be fit enough to re-join the team during the finals.
"It was quite overwhelming emotions when I did the injury, thinking if it's a five-week injury that's going to be it," Wakelin said. "You look at how you want to go out and you don't really see yourself going out that way. But since then you get a bit of perspective, and I'll probably apologise to the boys for my carry on after the game!
"There's still a window of opportunity there for me and it will be up to me to get my body right and to show the coaches on the track that I'm ready to go.
"It's all part of the plan that someone's got for you, if you like. It's exciting. I may have three games left, I may have two, I may have none. It's been a great journey either way."
Wakelin's football career got its first kick start when Port Adelaide brought him and brother Shane to Alberton from Port Lincoln when they were just 16 years old. The identical twins flourished in the Port Adelaide system, Darryl going on to play in the epic 1994 SANFL Grand Final and be judged best afield.
He joined St Kilda in 1995, playing 115 games (including the 1997 Grand Final) across six seasons until the end of 2000 when the Power traded the No. 4 draft selection for the consistent full-back.
Wakelin's impact at Port Adelaide was immediate. He played 20 or more games in each of his first six seasons at the Power and was an integral part of the team's three dominant seasons that yielded the 2004 premiership. His supreme shut down role on Brisbane's key forwards, and those Alastair Lynch haymakers will be lasting memories of the history-making 2004 Grand Final.
"As your time comes to an end you do get the chance to reflect on 13 years and I think about how lucky I've been to play at a club like Port Adelaide," Wakelin said.
"Its No. 1 priority is to create an environment that allows its players to play the best possible football they can and to learn about the game as quick as they can and to fast track the players education to get them comfortable playing at AFL level. That's all you ever want as a footballer from your football club. To be given that opportunity to play with the Port Adelaide Football Club as a junior, to go away, to realise how special the football club is, and then to come back has been a fairytale.
"When Choco first spoke to me about coming back he said that we've got a young, exciting side and we have some really special times ahead of us in the next four or so years. He said he was going to make me a better player and looking back I guess we've ticked all the boxes."
Power coach Mark Williams said Wakelin's contribution to the club extended beyond his outstanding form as full-back for the past seven years.
"Trading a top draft pick for Darryl Wakelin back in 2000 was quite obviously one of the best decisions this club has made in its time in the AFL," Williams said.
"He became one of the real heart-and-soul people of the football club. He was a friend to everyone. He is such a personality around the place and a caring and responsible leader.
"On the field he is reliable, he is very smart, he led the backline group, was a brilliant overhead mark, and you can barely remember the times his man influenced the result of the game.
"He has a genuine passion for the Port Adelaide Football Club. Not just where the club is today but he is very proud of the club's SANFL past and has a real care for where it is headed in the future.
"The hours he has put into being a mentor to our young defenders is to his absolute credit and speaks huge volumes for his love of the team and selfless nature. What Troy Chaplin, Michael Pettigrew, Alipate Carlile and all the defenders that have played and trained around him have learnt from him is going to benefit Port Adelaide for years to come.
"I'm sure his teammates and all at the club will
be pushing him and willing him and maybe even saying a quiet prayer
that he gets a
"(The form of the young defensive group) makes you feel very comfortable that at the end of the year you can walk away and know the club is in a really good position over all areas of the ground," Wakelin said. "Selfishly, in the back half I think we have an exciting group there and a couple of others to come into the side. I'll be watching to see how they develop."
Darryl Wakelin - 259* AFL games
Port Adelaide pre-season premiership side 2001, 2002