Sean Dempster has retired from AFL immediately due to ongoing concussion fears
ST KILDA defender Sean Dempster’s fears that another head knock or concussion could seriously impact on his post-football life left him with no option but to bring about his immediate retirement from the game.
The 33-year-old informed his teammates this morning that felt the risk was too great to continue.
A footballer renown for putting the team ahead of his own welfare across 222 games with Sydney and St Kilda, Dempster knew this time he had to put his young family – wife Abby and seven-month-old daughter Harper – first in this instance.
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“I suppose now that I have got a young family, it made the decision a lot easier, given the reason why I am retiring at this stage of the year,” Dempster told the Herald Sun.
“The reason I am pulling the pin early is that it is the head knocks rather than worrying about my knees or my shoulders or anything like that, which is part and parcel of it.
“But the head knocks is something more concerning. It is a bit more of a risk and there is a bit more of the unknown about it. And given my history, I have a pretty strong history in terms of concussions. It was probably an easier decision to make that I probably thought it would be.
“Now that I have got a little one (his daughter), it was a risk I was not willing to take anymore.
A premiership player with Sydney in 2005, and an All-Australian with St Kilda in 2012, Dempster has had a history of head knocks and concussions. He suffered a knock in a collision with Port Adelaide’s Nathan Krakouer in a JLT Community Series game in February, and although he passed a concussion test and returned to the field, the incident made him question whether he was prepared to take any further risk.
He played in another preseason game and a VFL practice match after the clash with Krakouer. He was overlooked for the Saints’ Round 1 clash with Melbourne on form, with the club unaware of his concerns.
But Dempster insisted he had no issue with the club and had been grateful to them for allowing him to have two weeks’ leave as he mulled over his decision to play on or retire.
In the end, the hard-working and dependable backman weighed up the other head knocks he had received, especially the most serious one in 2014, which saw him undergo serious neurological tests as a base point for the future.
He has had more tests in recent weeks, but is confident he will be cleared of any concerns.