Injury gets better of Eagles AFL skipper
The date was April 12, 2014, and West Coast skipper Darren Glass knew the end of his AFL career was nigh.
With Dean Cox lining up for a club-record 277th game, Glass was desperate to suit up alongside his teammate on what should have been a momentous occasion for the club.
But with a dodgy ankle and a creaky hip forcing him to the sidelines, Glass could only watch on helplessly as the injury-hit Eagles copped a 75-point belting at the hands of Geelong at Simonds Stadium.
It was at that point Glass realised he was unlikely to be able to play out the season.
The 33-year-old eked out five more games, and his form remained solid during those appearances.
But with the soreness in his hip and ankle growing by the week, Glass announced his retirement on Thursday, effective immediately.
West Coast’s hierarchy pleaded with Glass to make a farewell appearance in Saturday’s clash with Gold Coast at Patersons Stadium.
But the seven-year skipper was having none of it, saying he didn’t want to “pinch a game” off someone who deserved it more.
“I have been struggling to string a couple of games together this season and I feel like it’s time I step aside and let someone else come in,” Glass said.
“I’m not confident of playing any decent and consistent footy in the back half of the year, so it’s all over.
“With hindsight, I’ve probably played a year too long. At the end of last season, I was really confident I could play this year, but it hasn’t panned out that way.”
The 270-game veteran ends his career with four All-Australian jumpers, three best-and-fairest awards and one premiership to his name.
Glass will be remembered as one of the best key defenders of the past decade, alongside Geelong’s Matthew Scarlett and Fremantle’s Luke McPharlin.
But the way he helped transform West Coast’s player culture after Ben Cousins’ drug-fuelled departure in 2007 will perhaps be the most important legacy he leaves behind.
“He was the linchpin,” Eagles chief executive Trevor Nisbett said of Glass, who was thrust into the captaincy once Chris Judd defected to Carlton.
“You don’t have any chance if your leader doesn’t buy in.
“He was the first one to put his hand up and say ‘I’m in – we need to change the culture’.
“It took us three or four years to do that.”
West Coast are set to wait until the end of the season before appointing a full-time skipper, with vice-captains Scott Selwood and Josh Kennedy the early frontrunners.
In the meantime, rookie coach Adam Simpson is likely to put a rotation system in place.
The Eagles sit in 11th spot on the table with a 4-7 record, but Glass is confident the club is headed towards a bright future, and says a finals finish this year isn’t out of the question.
Glass is keen to stay in the football industry, and will assist the Eagles in a yet-to-be-determined role for the rest of the year.
But his four-year-old daughter Mila has already mapped out a plan for what her dad can do next.
“Mila thinks I should be a postman now,” Glass said with a laugh.