Lee Spurr was one of five nominees for the AFL Players’ Association Madden Medal, an award that recognises more than on-field performances, with off-field achievements, personal development and community spirit also taken into account.
Lee Spurr took the far from conventional route to joining the AFL system, but one he says that he would never change.
At a time when drafting mature aged players was few and far between, 21-year-old Spurr attempted to buck the trend after watching Michael Barlow prove that one’s maturity can be incredibly effective.
Spurr remained in Adelaide and played in two premierships for Central Districts in the SANFL before being drafted to Fremantle as the eighth selection in the 2012 AFL Rookie Draft.
His hard work and endless hours of training eventually landed him his childhood dream and, in his mind, made him the person he is today.
“I wouldn’t have changed my time looking back on it,” Spurr told AFLPlayers.com.au.
“My time at Central Districts helped shaped my life. That was really good grounding for me. I had a football club around me who supported me, and my family still supported me from home, but it forced me to grow up and that initial move really changed my life. It made me respect the sacrifices that my parents made for me, that my siblings made for me, and the time and effort that they put into me to help me achieve my dream.”
Spurr made his debut for Fremantle as a 24-year-old and went on to rack up 120 games in the AFL before being forced to retire in 2018 because of a career-ending knee injury.
Despite entering his dream job as an AFL player and putting copious amounts of hours into training, Spurr always viewed football as a “vehicle to give you a head start in life.”
During his playing career, Spurr also undertook work experience within a law firm and finished a Commerce Law degree to further his career once retirement loomed.
“I went away and did work experience every day that I had off for the last four years of my career, because you are only one injury away from retiring, and in the end that is what finished me,” he said.
“I had to be more than just a footballer. It’s more important because most of your adult life is going to be outside of football. My view always was that football was a privilege — I loved doing it — but it was going to come to an end one day.
“Every day that you play you’re always a day closer to the end, but don’t dwell on that as if it’s a bad thing, embrace it and prepare for it. I felt like I was prepared as best I could be.”
Spurr bowed out his playing career in what was one of his most memorable moments in the AFL.
Along with playing on the biggest stage, being drafted and running out alongside some of Fremantle’s greatest players, it was his final moment on the field that he shared with his family that topped the list.
“They organised for me to walk through the banner with my two children before the game started, even though I hadn’t playing a single game in my last year,” Spurr explained.
“We got to do a lap of honour and and the reception we got from the Fremantle fans was something I will always look back on fondly and that’s probably one of my greatest highlights — sharing that moment with my family as they sacrificed so much for me.”
ON FIELD ACHIEVEMENTS
- 120 AFL games
- 2013 AFL Grand Finalist
- Beacon Award for Fremantle’s Best First-Year Player 2012
- Dockers Best Clubman Award 2013
- Dockers Best and Fairest Top 10 finish four consecutive years — 2013-2016 and Top 5 finish in 2013 & 2016
- Fremantle Dockers leadership group member 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017
- AFLPA delegate 2017 and 2018
- Next Coach Program & Level 2 Coaching — AFL (2018)
- Completed Bachelor of Commercial Law (Uni SA) (2017)
- Work experience with Bradley Bayley Legal as Law Clerk (2015-2018)
- Big Issue promotion (2015)
- Red Cross Soup Patrol (2013-2015)