Often the biggest beneficiaries of the brutal AFL meat market are suburban and country-based clubs.
They quickly pounce on shunned or retired players to help build the profile of their club and potentially earn more wins for the upcoming season.
This has been the case over recent weeks and months, with ex-AFL players quickly finding new homes at lower levels.
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Former Carlton mainstays Heath Scotland and Brock McLean have been looking locally to continue their footy careers, with the former finding a home in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
Scotland, who retired midway through the 2014 season, signed with Doncaster — a Division 2 club in the Eastern Football League.
And the Sharks are confident Scotland can play “every game” in 2015, despite an ankle complaint that accelerated his AFL retirement.
“His ankle’s fine. It’s probably the different rigours of AFL and local footy,” Doncaster Football Director Rod Gregory told Leader.
“He’s a friend of Ben Johnson’s and, from talking to him, Heath made it clear pretty quickly that he wasn’t just looking for a football club, but also a transition in his career off the field.”
McLean claimed he was misled by the Blues after coach Mick Malthouse told him he was a required player for 2015 yet was delisted by Carlton at the end of the season.
The midfielder hasn’t officially signed with a local club yet, but Leader reports that Essendon District Football League Club Aberfeldie — McLean’s junior club — leads the race to secure his services.
“He’s looked at a number of options, but it looks like he’ll be playing local footy in Melbourne next year. We’re hoping he’s ready to make a decision when he’s back,” Aberfeldie president John Larkins said.
St Kilda champion Lenny Hayes, who retired in September after 297 games, is a chance to join former Saints teammate Troy Schwarze at Sorrento in the Nepean Football League.
Hayes and Schwarze were recruited by St Kilda in the same 1998 draft, playing more than 60 games together.
Schwarze, Sorrento’s coach, told Leader that the possibility of Hayes playing with the Sharks began with some light-hearted banter between the pair.
“It was more of a joke at the start and then it sort of gained some traction,” Schwarze said.
“At the start it was like, ‘You should come and play’, then I laughed about it and it’s still playing out.”
There are also whispers former Collingwood midfielder Luke Ball could return to Old Xaverians in the Victorian Amateur Football Association after he retired at the end of the year.
Ball said “when I’m done I’ll be done” in July, but the first-round draft pick has reportedly been in touch with his former club.
Ball’s former teammate Kyle Martin has returned to Noble Park in the EFL after suddenly retiring from the AFL in October.
Martin won premierships with the Bulls then spent a year with Frankston where he won its Best and Fairest. He was then rookie-listed by Collingwood, where he won its VFL best and fairests in both years.
Another former Pie, Quinten Lynch, has returned home to WA and been appointed playing-coach for amateur club Trinity Aquinas.
Less recent AFL retirees have also been moving around the local scene, with brothers Jason and Cameron Cloke to play for Craigieburn in the EDFL next season.
Luke Thompson to Woodville West-Torrens (SANFL)
Jason Porplyzia to West Adelaide (SANFL)
Lewis Johnston to North Adelaide (SANFL)
Jordan Lisle and Patrick Wearden to Port Melbourne (VFL)
Brent Moloney to Noosa (QFL North)
Heath Scotland to Doncaster (EFL)
Brock McLean to Aberfeldie (EDFL)*
Jarryd Cachia to Richmond (VFL)
Andrew McGuinness to Norwood (SANFL)
Luke Ball to Old Xaverians (VAFA)*
Kyle Martin to Noble Park (EFL)
Quinten Lynch to Trinity Aquinas (Perth Amateurs)
Kyle Hardingham to Essendon (VFL)
Fraser Thurlow to Woodville West-Torrens (SANFL)
Jordan Schroder to Essendon (VFL)
GOLD COAST SUNS
Leigh Osborne to Port Melbourne (VFL)
Tom Murphy to De La Salle (VAFA)
Daniel Harris to Pascoe Vale (EDFL)
Nathan Bock to Southport (NEAFL)
Josh Hunt to Southport (NEAFL)
Ben Ross to Pascoe Vale (EDFL)
Shannon Byrnes to Casey Scorpions (VFL)
Alex Georgiou to Norwood (SANFL)
Tim McGenniss to Somerville (Nepean FL)
Ben Warren to Pascoe Vale (EDFL)
Campbell Heath to Bairnsdale (Gippsland FNL)
Aaron Edwards to Frankston Pines (Peninsula FL)
Orren Stephenson returns to North Ballarat (VFL)
Brett O’Hanlon to Edithvale Aspendale (Peninsula FL)
Lenny Hayes to Sorrento (Nepean FL)*
Sam Dunell to Williamstown (VFL)
Clint Jones and Trent Dennis-Lane to Sandringham (VFL)
Terry Milera to Glenelg (SANFL)
Christian Howard to Glenelg (SANFL)
*NOTE: Hasn’t officially signed with the club yet
This article was originally published on SuperFooty and can be accessed here.