The AFL Players’ Association is set to award the annual Madden Medal this Friday, with nine recently retired AFL stars nominated for the accolade, which is proudly presented by The Diamond Guys.
The award, named in honour of former champions Simon and Justin Madden, takes into consideration football achievements, personal development, community spirit and off-field engagement.
The nominated crop of retirees need not worry about a shortage of achievements on the field, boasting premiership silverware, All-Australian jackets, and club honours, having played their role in dynasties being created and records broken.
While their football resumes may be impressive, equally so is their dedication off the field, comprising advocacy work, charity involvement and ambassadorial roles.
While there can only be one Madden Medal winner, these champions will continue to be remembered for their tireless work on and off the field.
After 17 years and 350 games for both Carlton and Adelaide, Eddie Betts retired a three-time All Australian, an Indigenous All Stars and International Rules representative, as well as a recipient of AFL Life Membership.
Known for his flair on the field, Betts was awarded the Goal of the Year four times and was the leading goal-kicker at Carlton and Adelaide twice and four times, respectively.
Off the field, Betts has built a legacy fighting against racism, building better support for players and advising on the importance of anti-racism initiatives. He has been a member of the AFLPA Indigenous Advisory Board, and has played a key role as part of Carlton’s RAP Working Group.
He is currently working to make a difference for the next generation, through the creation of Eddie’s Lil’ Homies, a series of educational books to help children read with confidence and understand acceptance and equality.
- 350 games (218 games Carlton, 132 games Adelaide)
- 640 goals (330 goals Carlton, 310 goals Adelaide)
- 4 x Goal of the Year award-winner (2006, 2015, 2016, 2019)
- 2 x Carlton leading goal-kicker (2010, 2012)
- 4 x Adelaide leading goal-kicker (2014-2017)
- 3 x All Australian (2015-2017)
- 7 x International games for Australia
- Carlton Best First Year Player (2005)
- Legacy around the fight against racism, advising on the importance of anti-racism initiatives and ways to support players
- Developed Eddie’s Lil’ Homies – a series of educational books (which will also be made into a cartoon) to help children read with confidence and understand acceptance and equality
- Member of Carlton’s RAP Working Group
- Advised on Carlton’s cultural learning strategy
- Assisted in preparing Carlton’s NAIDOC Week internal player event
- Member of AFLPA Indigenous Advisory Board
Represented Carlton in acknowledging the Sir Doug Nicholls Round Honouree
Neville Jetta called time on his career in the red and blue after playing 159 games over 13 years. After transforming himself from a small forward to a reliable defender, he departed the game as a beloved teammate and one of the most well-respected names in the industry. He was named to the All Australian squad in 2017, twice selected for the Indigenous All Stars, and awarded Life Membership by the Demons.
Jetta has embarked on the next phase of his football career as a development coach at Collingwood, blending development and mentoring responsibilities with an on-field role as a VFL player. He was recently honoured with the 2022 Phil Walsh Memorial Scholarship to further his coaching development, in part because of his drive to bring diversity to coaching and impact the next generation of Indigenous players to “be what you can see.”
Jetta balances this with a host of ambassadorial roles for organisations including Tackle Your Feelings, Vic Health, the Trachoma Foundation and Headspace, as well as volunteering at the Melbourne Indigenous Transition School and Parkville Youth Detention Centre.
- 159 games
- 2 x International games for Australia (2017)
- Jim Stynes Community Award winner (2018)
- Ambassador for Tackle Your Feelings
- Ambassador for Vic Health
- Ambassador for the Trachoma Foundation
- Ambassador for HeadSpace
- Assists Melbourne Storm with a school to work program
- AFLPA Indigenous Advisory Board
- Second indigenous player (behind Adam Goodes) to be nominated to the board of the AFLPA
- Xavier College First Nations liaison officer
- Recipient of the AFL Coaches Association Phil Walsh Scholarship Award
- Volunteer at Melbourne Indigenous Transition School
- Volunteer at Parkville Youth Detention Centre
- Known for his devotion to additional community appearances outside of his mandated AFL appearances
Easton Wood called time on a career at the Western Bulldogs that spanned 188 games over 14 seasons. This included two years as captain, most notably in their premiership year in 2016. Wood also won the Western Bulldogs best and fairest, as well as All Australian selection in 2015, his career-best season.
Off the field he was just as instrumental, representing the Bulldogs in his role as a delegate and later a board member of the AFL Players’ Association, and as an ambassador for long-standing Club partners, including the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation.
He has also completed a Bachelor of Human Movement and Exercise Science at Victoria University, and has now commenced his Masters in Education.
- 188 games
- Western Bulldogs captain (2018-2019)
- Premiership captain (2016)
- All Australian (2015)
- 1 x International game for Australia (2011)
- Bachelor of Human Movement / Exercise Science at Victoria University
- Masters in Education
- AFLPA board member
- AFLPA club delegate
- Work placement at Scotch College
- Represented the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation
Shaun Burgoyne played 407 games for both Hawthorn and Port Adelaide, just one of five players in VFL/AFL history to reach the 400-game milestone and the most of any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander player in AFL history.
Burgoyne was part of Hawthorn’s historic premiership three-peat (2013-2015) and tasted the ultimate success in Port’s first AFL flag in 2004. Along with four premierships, he is an All Australian, Showdown Medal winner and Hawthorn Life Member.
Off field, Burgoyne has completed study in media and public speaking, as well as education. He has served on the AFLPA Indigenous Advisory Board and is an ambassador with the Epic Good Foundation.
He is also the director at ACS Indigenous, a company created to meet growing requirements by government and the private sector to engage Indigenous owned and managed enterprises, to create long-term career and procurement opportunities.
- 407 games (157 games Port Adelaide, 250 games Hawthorn)
- 302 goals (171 goals Port Adelaide, 131 goals Hawthorn)
- 4 x Premiership player (2004, 2013, 2014, 2015)
- All Australian (2006)
- 4 x International games for Australia (2008-2017)
- AFLPA Indigenous Advisory Board
- Hawthorn Life Member
- Port Adelaide Indigenous Liaison Officer
- Owns a cleaning business (ACS Property Services)
- Media and Public Speaking course (2007)
- Certificate III and IV in Education (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) (2010)
- Ambassador with the Epic Good Foundation and their partnership with the Hawthorn Football Club (2021)
- Director at ACS Indigenous (2020-present), a company created to meet growing requirements by government and the private sector to engage Indigenous owned and managed enterprises, to create long-term career and procurement opportunities
Carlton Football Club
Marc Murphy became a Life Member of the Carlton Football Club in 2013 and received AFL Life Membership in 2021 after a 300-game career with the Blues, in which he captained the club for six years.
Murphy crafted a decorated career as an All Australian, an AFLCA Champion Player of the Year (2011), a two-time John Nicholls Medallist (2011 and 2017) and one of just six players in Carlton’s 300-game club.
Post-retirement, Murphy has pursued a career in property and real estate, while also continuing his ambassadorial work with the MAD Foundation, an organisation which helps the lives of disabled and disadvantaged children and young people by funding life-changing support equipment and services they otherwise could not afford.
- 300 games
- 297 goals
- Carlton captain (2013-2018)
- 2 x Best and Fairest (2011, 2017)
- All Australian (2011)
- AFLCA Champion Player (2011)
- 1 x International game for Australia (2008)
- AFLPA Best First Year Player (2006)
- Studied Building and Construction (2008)
- Agents Rep in Real Estate (2014)
- AFL Recruiting (2018)
- Work placement with Ken Whitman
- Assisted Carlton’s recruiting team (2018)
- Jon Adgemis Properties (2020-present)
- Ambassador at the MAD Foundation (2010-present)
Western Bulldogs/Gold Coast
Jarrod Harbrow became a member of the inaugural Gold Coast Suns side in 2011 after a stint with the Western Bulldogs, totalling 262 games across the two clubs.
He became the first Gold Coast player to play 150 games for the club, and now holds the club’s games record. He won the Club Champion award in 2018 and was also awarded Life Membership.
Harbrow’s impact at the SUNS extended beyond the football field, winning the club’s Community Award for his work with Indigenous youth five times. From 2022, the award was named in his honour for his tireless efforts.
He launched his own mentoring program, the Harbrow Mentoring Program, with brother Marc, aiming to further support and educate Indigenous youth throughout Queensland in sport, school and general day to day life.
- 262 games (70 Western Bulldogs, 192 Gold Coast)
- Best and Fairest (2018)
- 2 x International games for Australia (2013)
- 5 x winner of the SUNS Community Award for work with Indigenous youth
- Finalist in the AFL Jim Stynes Community Leadership Award (2018)
- AFLPA Indigenous Advisory Board
- Started Harbrow Mentoring Program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys and girls aged 13-18 years old
- Named Gold Coast Community award winner five times – from 2022, the award named the “Jarrod Harbrow Community Award”
Bachar Houli retired from the game after 232 appearances for Richmond and Essendon. He played a key role in three flags for the Tigers, finishing runner-up to Dustin Martin for the Norm Smith Medal in both the 2017 and 2019 triumphs.
Houli was an All Australian in 2019 and finished in the top 10 of the Jack Dyer Medal in seven of his past 10 seasons.
Off the field, Houli’s legacy at Richmond will live on for many years to come, with the Bachar Houli Foundation, which he founded to build young leaders within the Muslim community. The Foundation aims to support social cohesion by fostering young Muslims with a sense of belonging through sport. The first Bachar Houli Program was the first Muslim Football Academy in Australia and has since reached over 35,000 participants nationally.
Houli has been recognised for his community involvement through a number of awards including the Torch of Justice, David Mandie Community Award, Jim Stynes Community Leadership Award and the Yiooken Award.
- 232 games (26 Essendon, 206 for Richmond)
- 3 x Premiership player (2017, 2019, 2020)
- All Australian (2019)
- Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) Torch of Justice Award (2021)
- David Mandie Community Award (2019, 2021)
- Jim Stynes Community Leadership Award (2020)
- Yiooken Award Winner (2019)
- Inaugural winner of Award for Muslim and Non-Muslim Understanding (2012)
- Shortlisted for the Beyond Sport Achieving Award in 2013
- Certificate III and IV in Fitness (2011)
- Established the Bachar Houli Academy in 2012
- Created the Bachar Houli Cup, an inter-Islamic school football competition
- Created the Bachar Houli Foundation in 2019, a unique non-for-profit organisation that aims to develop young leaders within the Muslim community
- AFL Multicultural Ambassador (2012-2021)
- Victorian Fisheries Ambassador (2018)
- Instrumental in establishing prayer rooms at AFL venues in 2012
Nathan Jones retired a 302-game stalwart of the Melbourne Football Club.
Jones left the Dees as a three-time best and fairest winner and a Life Member, spending 16 years at the club, with six of those as captain.
Jones was universally loved by Melbourne supporters – and fans of the game in general – for his determination and loyalty through some of the club’s most difficult times.
Post-football, Jones has completed study in building and construction, as well as coaching, and now manages his own property development projects.
- 302 games
- 141 goals
- Melbourne captain (2014-2019)
- 3 x Best and Fairest
- 2 x AFL Rising Star Nominee (2006, 2007)
- Certificate 3 & 4 Building and Construction
- Next Coach Program
- Networking experience in property development
- Managed own property development projects
Grant Birchall called time on a decorated 287-game career that spanned 15 seasons across Hawthorn and Brisbane. Most notably, he was as a key part of four AFL premiership triumphs with Hawthorn and was a 2012 All Australian.
Birchall retired ranked fourth on the AFL games record list for Tasmania and is an esteemed member of the Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame.
Birchall has taken on coaching roles within the Brisbane Lions Academy and the Brisbane South State Secondary College, as well as participating in the internal coaching program at the Lions.
- 287 games (248 Hawthorn and 39 Brisbane)
- 4 x Premiership player (2008, 2013, 2014, 2015)
- All-Australian (2012)
- Tasmanian Football Hall of Fame
- Academy Development Coach with the Brisbane Lions
- Internal Coaching Program at the Lions, run by Scott Borlace
- Brisbane South State Secondary College, working with AFL Academy Students
- Variety of online community engagements during Covid