By: JESS WEBSTER
Sharks captain Ben Headland retires from NEAFL level
Southport captain and long-serving clubman Ben Headland has retired from the NEAFL competition.
A loyal Shark since his junior days, Headland’s family has a rich history with club, with his uncle Craig playing over 100 games in the late 1980s and 90s, winning three premierships and a best-and-fairest before ultimately being inducted into the Southport Hall of Fame.
Ben is a premiership player himself, having tasted the ultimate success in his first senior season in 2008 when the all-conquering Southport featured in their fourth QAFL Grand Final in a row.
Headland took over the Sharks captaincy in 2015, the same year he represented the NEAFL in the league’s historic representative win over Tasmania in 2015.
The star defender was also the first Southport player to reach 100 games in the NEAFL, and finishes his career on 132 games.
Headland, who turns 28 on Thursday, said he would miss the club dearly.
“A lot of who I am today is because of this club and the relationships with the people involved,” he said.
“I will be forever grateful for the opportunities and support the club has given me, both on and off the field. Through numerous shoulder and knee surgeries the club has always stood by me.
“I will always be a Southport person and I hope one day my kids will be able to experience what it is like to play for this great club.”
The club has also paid tribute former captain Jason Burge and veteran Glenn Screech, who are also stepping down from NEAFL level.
Screech, 29, played 192 senior games for the Sharks across the QAFL/NEAFL, winning two flags in 2006 and 2008 and the 2016 Wally Fankhauser Memorial Trophy.
Burge, 30, won two club best-and-fairests, two premierships, and represented the NEAFL twice over his 167-game career.
Southport Sharks Football Operations Manager, Jarrod Field, said all three players will be hard to replace.
“Ben is the true embodiment of what a footballer should be, he is a fearless competitor and absolutely relished leading the team, week in and week out,” he said.
“Glenn and Jason gave the club their all, and spent a substantial amount of time and effort at Fankhauser Reserve. Glenn’s effort of 192 senior games is simply outstanding and Jason’s back-to-back best and fairest awards will always be remembered.
“It will be different not seeing the boys run out in the black and white in 2017.”
You can keep up-to-date with all the 2017 NEAFL player movements here.
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