Fletch still fighting for farewell game

Essendon veteran Dustin Fletcher is still hopeful of making it back on the field for a farewell game before drawing the curtain on his decorated AFL career.

The 40-year-old has been sidelined with a groin injury since his 400th AFL match in round nine and won’t play this week against Richmond, which makes the Bombers’ final round clash against Collingwood at the MCG his last chance to farewell fans.

While the veteran says he still has to meet with club officials to discuss his future, he admits a retirement announcement could come next week.

“I’ve been doing a fair bit of training but we’ll just have to wait and see,” Fletcher said on Tuesday of the prospect of facing the Magpies in round 23.

“It would be good to keep going – the kids always said that I may as well just keep going and going but it doesn’t work like that.

“We’ll see how we go next week.

“I’m obviously near the end – I might make a statement or an announcement next week – but there’s nothing to be said today.”

Fletcher spoke at the club’s Tullamarine headquarters to launch his biography Fletch.

Speaking a week after James Hird fell on his sword over his part in the supplements scandal, Fletcher said it had been hard to see his old friend and teammate depart the club.

“They were tough events, not only for me but for the whole footy club, the fans and the general public,” he said.

“Hirdy’s been around for a long time, he’s a champion of the club and he’s helped me win a lot of games of footy, so it was tough for me.

“I would have liked to have seen him (stick) around … but whatever he wants to do I’m sure he’ll be great at it.”

Essendon legend Kevin Sheedy, who appeared with Fletcher, said it was important the club moved into ‘clear space’ following Hird’s exit.

“It’s a decision I’m glad I didn’t have to make but I’ve always been a James Hird fan,” Sheedy said.

“It was a tough period.”

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