A CAPTIVATING Zoom call has marked the end of Nathan Jones’ AFL career, with the Melbourne champion announcing his retirement on Tuesday night.
With Jones and the club uncertain when circumstances would allow for an in-person meeting, the 33-year-old dialled into the club’s Joondalup hub to inform teammates and staff of his decision to call time on his career having returned home to Melbourne to witness the birth of his twins.
Welcome to the world, Odie Reign Jones + Dove Margot Jones. ?— Melbourne Demons (@melbournefc) September 14, 2021
Congratulations to Nathan, Jerri, Bobbi + Remy on their beautiful little additions to the family. ?? pic.twitter.com/YRweMI0jzm
One of the club’s most consistent performers at VFL level in 2021, Jones has been on the verge of selection throughout the 2021 finals series but given the Demons' healthy list and dominant preliminary final performance, the veteran looked unable to break into the club’s first grand final appearance since 2000.
Knowing his fate was albeit sealed from an on-field point of view, after 302 games in the red and blue Jones made the last-minute decision to leave the club’s hub and return home to Melbourne to be with his family for the birth.
While Jones admitted his personal disappointment at not running out for the club’s grand final appearance next Saturday, he spoke of his immense pride and joy for the position the club finds itself in and the opportunity ahead for his teammates.
“Personally I’ve had a lot of emotions go through my mind from how it's all unfolded. From an individual perspective, it’s been disappointing, to say the least, knowing the work I’ve put in. But what I want to stress is that regardless of that I am still filled with the utmost amount of joy, happiness and pride for the position the club is now in,” Jones told Melbourne Media.
“Over the years, the two things that have driven me to stay committed to this footy club have been firstly, the chance to play in a premiership one day and secondly, to ensure that no young player coming into Melbourne would have the experience I did for many years, I wanted to leave Melbourne Football Club a better place.
“Looking at where the club is now, I am proud of where we are and I'm so excited for the opportunity that my teammates have ahead of them, to write a new chapter in the club’s history.”
The former skipper will go down as one of the greatest players to ever represent Melbourne, with few, if any, rivalling his decorated career.
Jones leaves the Dees as a three-time best and fairest winner and a life member of the club he poured his heart and soul into for 16 years.
He was universally loved by Melbourne supporters – and fans of the game in general – for his determination and loyalty through some of the club’s darkest times.
Jones played under eight senior coaches throughout his journey with the Demons, and his final leader, Simon Goodwin, said his legacy will last forever.
“One of the hardest things to do as a player is go through cultural change,” Goodwin said to the playing group following Jones’ announcement.
“And we’re talking about a culture that was at rock bottom.
“He’s seen that journey through and he leaves the club today a proud man.”