By Peter Blucher
Queensland football’s extraordinary ‘Class of 2006’ is down to one following the exit of David Armitage from St Kilda today.
This will leave Gold Coast veteran Jarrod Harbrow as the last of a what was a staggering 18 Queenslanders drafted to the AFL for the first time in 2006.
Armitage told St Kilda teammates his 13-year stay at the club would end this season, and although the 31-year-old said he would be open to playing elsewhere it is almost certain his 169-game AFL career is over.
Armitage was the first Queenslander taken in the 2006 National Draft at #9 and has played 169 games, including three finals, kicked 98 goals, and polled 40 Brownlow Medal votes.
After watching his club play in the grand final in 2009 and 2010 he was a Saints regular from 2011, and from 2011-16 played 22-21-21-15-21-22 games on a year-by-year basis for a total of 122 games during a golden era in which he was one of the better inside midfielders in the competition.
In his best season he was runner-up in the 2015 Trevor Barker Medal for the Saints Best and Fairest player, and was also ninth in 2012, fifth in 2013, seventh in 2014 and 10th in 2016.
He will retire having worn the #20 jumper more often than any other St.Kilda player.
Armitage remains sidelined by concussion symptoms but will travel to Sydney this weekend in a non-playing capacity to be part of a huge celebration of football as the Saints take on the Swans at the SCG tomorrow.
It will be Lance Franklin’s 300th AFL game as the Swans farewell retiring greats Jarrad McVeigh and Kieren Jack.
St Kilda football chief Simon Lethlean today said Armitage had given great service to the club.
“Dave should be incredibly proud of what he was able to achieve in his time at the Saints,” Lethlean said.
“His past few years have unfortunately been hampered by injury, but at his prime he was right up there with the best midfielders in the game.
“Despite the setbacks, he has continued to be a huge presence at the club, helping drive a culture that can deliver success in the coming years.
“We wish Dave, his fiancé Jessie and son Parker all the best for the future. They will forever be part of the Saints family.”
Armitage, born in Mackay and a product of then AFL Queensland club Morningside, is remembered at the Lions who prior to being drafted worked in the club’s merchandise shop at the Gabba.
He headed a Queensland draft that will never be matched. Players chosen in the national draft after him, headed by selection #17 Shaun Hampson, were:-
#17 – Shaun Hampson – played 98 games with Carlton and Richmond from 2007-16 and currently finds himself in the reality TV show ‘Survivor’.
#21 – Gavin Urquhart – played 41 games with North Melbourne from 2008-11.
#22 – Albert Proud – played 29 games with Brisbane from 2007-10
#24 – Brent Renouf – played 68 games with Hawthorn and Port Adelaide from 2008-14, and was a member of the Hawthorn premiership side in 2008.
#25 – Brad Howard – played 2 games with St Kilda in 2007 before returning home to play with Redland in the local competition.
#30 – Ricky Petterd – played 84 games with Melbourne and Richmond from 2007-15.
#32 – Kurt Tippett – played 178 games and kicked 325 goals for Adelaide and Richmond from 2008-17. He played 16 finals, including the Swans’ 2014-16 grand finals.
#69 – Ben Warren – played 29 games with North Melbourne 2009-12 and is now playing with Aspley in the NEAFL.
#76 – Paul O’Shea – Was drafted by the Western Bulldogs but didn’t play in the AFL.
#79 – Jesse White – Played 127 games with Sydney and Collingwood from 2008-17, including the Swans’ 2013 preliminary final.
Harbrow, set to play his 245th game for the Suns as the 2019 home-and-away season ends this weekend, was among seven Queenslanders taken in the 2007 Rookie Draft shortly after the 2006 National Draft. They were:-
#13 – Chris Smith – joined Fremantle but did not play in the AFL.
#20 – Scott Clouston – played two games with the Brisbane Lions in 2008.
#21 – Gavin Grose – joined Port Adelaide but did not play at the AFL. Returned home and is still playing with Aspley in the NEAFL.
#27 – Jarrod Harbrow – the Cairns product was drafted from the Murray Bushrangers by the Western Bulldogs. He has played 244 games with the Bulldogs and the Gold Coast Suns, including the Dogs’ 2008-09-10 preliminary final. He is the reigning club champion at the Suns and the games record-holder.
#35 – Daniel Dzufer – played one game with the Lions in 2007.
#48 – Haydn Kiel – was drafted by Brisbane and later Hawthorn, but didn’t play in the AFL.
#57 – Joel Tippett – was drafted by Brisbane, and later Gold Coast and North Melbourne, and played nine games with Gold Coast and North Melbourne from 20011-15. Is now one of the premier key defenders in the VFL playing with Wiliamstown.