Demons skipper McDonald calls it quits - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Demons skipper McDonald calls it quits

19/08/2010 03:37:02 PM Comments (0)

With Melbourne emerging from one of the darkest periods in their proud history, captain James McDonald would dearly love to have stuck around for the good times.

But when the tap on the shoulder came this week from Dean Bailey, the consummate clubman could see the bigger picture.

Having come off the rookie list back in 1997, the 33-year-old McDonald will retire after the final two matches of 2010 against Port Adelaide and North Melbourne as one of only seven men to have reached the 250-game milestone for the sport's oldest club.

"I probably thought I could have got another year out, but at the end of the day a football club is all about winning premierships and hopefully they might win one next year, but probably they're not quite ready for that," McDonald said on Thursday.

"Dean has been upfront about that since he first got to the club that you've got to put games into these young players."

McDonald started to contemplate his footballing mortality midway through 2010 when a "one-week" hamstring injury turned into seven weeks on the sidelines.

"That probably set me back a little bit," he said.

"Mentally I felt really good, I felt comfortable in the leadership role as captain.

"But at the end of the day the decision was made so I don't think it was worth arguing the toss.

"It probably was a little bit of a surprise, but I'm realistic as well, at my age and how long I've been at the club."

Having assumed the captaincy midway through 2008 following the retirement of their longest-serving leader David Neitz, McDonald saw the Demons earn back-to-back wooden spoons before the exciting youth-inspired revival in 2010.

"It does make it harder in a way knowing that there's success around the corner," said McDonald, whose older brothers Alex (Hawthorn and Collingwood) and Anthony (Melbourne) also enjoyed successful AFL careers.

"We've still got a lot of work yet to get to where we want to get to.

"But I understood that in the last two or three years when I took on the captaincy.

"I knew I probably wouldn't get to share in the spoils and the results when they started going our way.

"I knew it was going to take time and at the end, time has got me."

In his three years at Melbourne, Bailey has also made the tough call to end the careers of several other Demons greats including Jeff White, Adem Yze and Russell Robertson.

He praised McDonald as someone whose leadership skills would bear fruit with the next generation of Demons.

"James almost gets embarrassed to be called a great player or a legend of the football club," said Bailey of a man who was All-Australian in 2006 and won back-to-back club best and fairest awards in 2006-07.

"He's been more than a captain to me and the other players.

"He's got no ego, he's just a terrific bloke.

"Whenever the occasion has risen, he's risen to it and that's been on a week-to-week basis."

Among the favourites to succeed McDonald as captain are Brad Green and Aaron Davey, both of whom are members of the 2010 leadership group.

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