K rock Football

Lions premiership hero retires

Brandon Howarth celebrates kicking his fifth goal in the 2016 grand final. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

BRANDON Howarth says the inability to commit to the level required to play in the GFL is behind his decision to retire.

The star Leopold small forward told coach Jason Tom on Monday night and his teammates on Wednesday night that his impressive 180-game, 308-goal career was over three months short of his 30th birthday.

“To be a good GFL footballer takes three nights a week, ten months of the year, and I just don’t think I’m up to giving that commitment anymore,” Howarth told krockfootball.com.au.

“COVID’s given everyone a lot of time to think, and I’ve been wrestling with (the decision) for the last couple of months.

“I came to the decision on Monday, and I talked to Jase and let the coaches know, and then I let the boys know last (Wednesday) night.”

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Aside from school football with Geelong Grammar and representing the GFL, Howarth has played all his football in green and gold after graduating from the club’s Auskick program.

The multiple GFL Team of the Year member made his senior debut under Aaron Greaves against Grovedale in Round 14, 2009, kicking a goal in a 33-point win at Memorial Park.

Howarth started as a wingman, but it was masterstroke move by premiership coach Steve Clark that turned him into one of the most damaging small forwards in the GFL.

In the five seasons from 2014-2018, Howarth kicked 223 goals in 90 games, including passing 50 majors each year between 2016-18.

“I’ve probably done pretty well for a bloke that’s 5’8″ (172cms) and can’t kick on his left foot,” he said.

“It was a bit of a change that ‘Otis’ (Clark) put in after about 60 or 70 games; I think he was sick of me not chasing into the backline, and he said “how about we have a go at playing forward?”.”

That decision may have proved the difference between Leopold winning its maiden GFL premiership or still looking to break a senior premiership drought dating back to its 1990 Bellarine league success.

Howarth was ultimately the difference between the Lions and St Mary’s in 2016, falling just short of best-on-ground honours with a six-goal haul in a 36-point win.

“It’s certainly the highlight (of my career), and something I hold pretty dear,” he said.

Howarth has ruled out entertaining offers from clubs in neighbouring leagues. Instead, discussions on an off-field role at Leopold have commenced.

“I’ve just announced that I’m going to wrap it up, but I’m in talks to have some sort of role,” he said.

“We’re working through that to see what that looks like, but I’ll certainly be involved at the footy club next year.”

Twitter: @tom_king79