Essendon has farewelled loyal ruckman Tom Bellchambers, after the 31-year-old announced his retirement from the AFL on Tuesday morning.
After 13 seasons and 136 games with the red and black, Bellchambers has played his final game for the Bombers.
The 31-year-old said he’ll forever cherish his time at the club.
“Today I announce my retirement from the game that I love. This club has been a huge part of my life for the last 13 years. I can genuinely say I have enjoyed all the ups and downs that my career has thrown at me,” Bellchambers said.
“I’ve been lucky to live out my childhood dream and in doing so have created some amazing memories and friendships along the way that I will cherish forever.
“Physically, my body is telling my time is up and I go out knowing that I couldn’t have given any more to this great club.
“To my family, my partner and all the people that helped me on my journey, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and know that I couldn’t have done it without you.
“To the Essendon faithful, your loyalty and support to myself and the football club through a difficult time is what makes this club so great.
“I wish the boys nothing but success and I believe we are on the right path to get there.”
Bellchambers could only add seven more games to his career tally in 2020 after persistent knee injuries in a compacted fixture cruelled the 202cm ruckman of stringing matches together.
He was originally recruited from the Tasmanian Devils with pick No.8 in the 2007 pre-season draft. In his first year of senior football, Bellchambers made his AFL debut in round 11, 2008 against Hawthorn.
Bellchambers’ best year with the club came in 2018, when he finished sixth in the Crichton Medal, playing 20 matches and obtaining career-best figures of 32.9 hitouts and 11.4 disposals per game.
Senior coach John Worsfold paid tribute to Bellchambers, who has been a cornerstone of the club’s ruck position in recent seasons.
“Tom’s been a loyal and wonderful player for the club over an extended period of time,” Worsfold said.
“His contribution as a ruckman for our team can’t be underestimated and for Tom to have played 13 seasons of AFL football is a credit to the way he’s applied himself to the game.
“While he hasn’t enjoyed the continuity of games which he would’ve liked to have achieved this year, Tom’s role in helping mentor our developing ruckman in Sam Draper and Nick Bryan has been first-class and shows the character and leadership he possesses.
“He’s a highly regarded and valued member of the playing group and everyone from the coaches, staff and his teammates will miss his presence around the club.
“We wish both Tom and partner Olympia, as well as their families, the very best for their future.”
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