Retiring Collingwood veteran Luke Ball leaves the game as a former captain, Best and Fairest winner, All-Australian, Premiership player and AFL Players’ President, but could add the Madden Medal to his impressive list of accolades on Friday.
Taken at Pick #2 in the ‘super draft’ of 2001, sandwiched between Luke Hodge and Chris Judd, Ball went on to play 223 games for St Kilda and Collingwood.
At St Kilda he was a Best and Fairest winner, a captain and a Grand Finalist. He then moved to the Westpac Centre and played a significant role in the Magpies’ 2010 Premiership team.
His outstanding leadership and hardness at the contest saw him emerge as one of the game’s most respected players throughout the mid-2000s, with his ferocious tackling and great decision-making two standout features of his game. He also represented the nation in the International Rules Series in 2004 and won all-Australian selection in 2005.
Congrats to old team mate from school footy Luke Ball. Has achieved so much, and will no doubt continue to in the future. Congrats Bally!
— Ted Richards (@tedrichards25) August 28, 2014
Off the field, he worked closely with the AFL Players’ Association as a delegate, and then a board-member before becoming AFL Players’ President. He has also been a proud ambassador for youth homelessness charity Ladder, and was involved in St Kilda’s Community Program.
On top of this, Ball held media roles with Channel 7 for six years and SEN Radio from 2012-14, has studied business and commerce and has completed a property development course.
He also recently began working with marketing firm The Promotions Factory in Prahan and has been a part of a leadership consultancy since 2011.
As President of the PA, Ball was involved in negotiations relating to the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement which, among other things, secured a greater base salary for players. AFL Players’ vice-president Matthew Pavlich says his composure and leadership in these negotiations will form a large part of Ball’s legacy in the game.
“The leadership he displayed in the negotiations with the AFL had nothing to do with what had occurred on the field the weekend before, or what would happen the weekend after. His message was clear: we were all in this together,” Pavlich wrote in a piece on aflplayers.com.au earlier this year.
“That night was the first time in a very long time the playing group as a whole was seen as a unified body – Luke played a huge part in all that happening.
“Seeing him that night is something that sticks with me because it sums up a lot of his great qualities, as both a person and a footballer.”
Tributes flowed for Ball upon the announcement of his retirement, with then-acting CEO of the Players Association, Ian Prendergast, describing Ball as the perfect leader.
The 2014 Madden Medal winner will be announced on Friday, September 30.