20/04/2024

Port Adelaide champion Robbie Gray announced his retirement on Tuesday. (Photo: Port Adelaide FC)

Port Adelaide champion Robbie Gray announced his retirement on Tuesday. He leaves the game having given us so many happy memories throughout his career.

It was probably the worst kept secret in 2022 for Port Adelaide. On Tuesday it became official, and it is both a sad day and a happy day. We celebrate one of the best Port Adelaide players of the AFL era as he hangs up the boots at the ripe age of 34.

Taken with pick 55 in the 2006 AFL Draft, Gray has been everything a team would want in a diminutive forward/midfielder.

His football IQ is off the charts; his game sense and feeling for the goals made him one of the most watchable players ever to wear a Port Adelaide jumper.

He has numerous moments that left us with our jaws dropped. His late goal against St Kilda back in 2017 after a sweet tap from Paddy Ryder. His goal after the siren to beat Carlton at the Gabba in 2020, and let’s not forget his five-goal haul in one-quarter of a Showdown in 2018. We could go on.

Gray has been through everything during his career. An ACL injury, to the tough times for the club when it was on its knees in the early 2010s. He was also part of the sides in 2020 and 2021 that made it to preliminary finals.

To say that Gray brought a smile to every fan’s face would be an understatement. He dazzled us every week. That is what we want from our heroes, to take us away from the grind of our daily lives for those couple of hours and treat us with their skill. Robbie did that and then some.

While never the quickest, what he could do with the football left us mesmerised.

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He was such a loveable person both on and off the field. Gray was never one to take the limelight; in fact, the opposite and preferred to stay away from the media.

For a player who is one of the most gifted we have ever seen, it is refreshing to see that kind of humility. He had every right to walk with his chest out and ooze an air of confidence, but didn’t.

They say that football brings us joy; in Gray’s case, he did more than that. He made us look forward to Port’s next game straight after one had finished. He was able to do the unthinkable and became one of the most watchable players in the league.

For everything that the great man has accomplished in his storied AFL career, which included five Showdown medals, being a four-time All-Australian, a three-time John Cahill Medallist, 365 goals (second all-time at Port Adelaide behind Warren Tredrea), there was one thing that he failed to do: win a premiership.

If a player in the AFL deserved to win one before he retired, it was Robbie. He is such a champion of the game and the club. The way he went about his business was nothing short of remarkable.

On Saturday night, Port Adelaide gets the perfect chance to send off its champion in the best way possible: with a win over its arch rivals Adelaide. One more Showdown medal? Who says no?

Thanks for the memories, Robbie; you were and always will be a Port Adelaide legend.

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