Telling the playing group of his decision to call an end to his 12-year-career was one of the hardest things Garrick Ibbotson has had to do during his time at Fremantle.
The 29-year-old told his teammates on Tuesday afternoon that he would retire at the end of the WAFL season.
Although the accomplished defender said he was comfortable with his decision, he admits breaking the news was tough.
“I wasn’t really looking forward to do it to be honest,” Ibbotson said.
“I contemplated telling the guys informally on the track but that didn’t work out, so I did it after the team meeting.
“When you are looking at guys faces and telling them you are going to be out the door next year, it was never going to be easy,
“But as hard as it is to leave a football club, I think it’s the right time for me and I am happy with my decision.”
It’s not hard to see the selfless, dedicated team player that typified Ibbotson’s career is when he talks about some of his favourite moments over the years.
Ibbotson recalled the ‘pride’ he felt watching his teammates play in the 2013 AFL Grand Final, a moment the defender missed due to an achilles injury.
“Being able to travel to Melbourne and watch the team play is something I will never forget,” Ibbotson said.
Being drafted as a 17-year-old via pick 26 in the 2005 National Draft still stands as a highlight for Ibbotson, along with the other milestones he has achieved over the years.
“Along the way you set goals and just hope to play one game. Then you tick that off and you look at trying to be consistent for years to come,” Ibbotson said.
“I was able to share my 100th game with Tommy Sheridan’s debut and my 150h with Stephen Hill’s, they stand out as great memories.
“Games are special all the time when you win and we have been through some tough losses together but I have enjoyed the whole experience.
“You play with guys who eventually turnout to be like brothers to you.”
A Starlight Children’s Foundation ambassador since 2010, Ibbotson was always one of the first players to offer his time to give back to those in need and never shied away from an opportunity to make someone smile.
“I’ve always remembered how much it meant to me when I was young and AFL players used to come to our school for visits,” Ibbotson said.
“Even though I wasn’t overly interested in AFL when I was a kid, those visits always had a positive impact on me and that’s why I’m happy to give back when I can.
“To be able to be a Starlight ambassador and get down to PMH was great and when the opportunity arises I am always happy to do it.”
Life after footy for Ibbotson will be full of changes. One of the first and most exciting will be the birth of his and wife Sophie’s first child in January.
“I am really looking forward to spending time with Sophie and our baby,” Ibbotson said.
“That’s the main thing I am looking forward to.”
The 29-year-old also has a final year of university study to complete before graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce from Curtin University.
“I am looking forward to a different challenge,” Ibbotson said.
“I’ve been in footy for 12 years so next year I’ll finish my degree and see where I end up and getting into the workforce.”
But for now Ibbotson is solely focused on playing for Peel Thunder and the upcoming WAFL finals series.
“Playing for Peel was always really high on my agenda, especially now that I have qualified for finals,” Ibbotson said.
“I missed out last year by one game and watched the boys win the premiership, which was good to see, but it would have been nice to be a part of it.
“I am keen to be a part of it this this year and, hopefully, we have some success.”