In what was a surprising move to most, Geelong rookie Jonathon Simpkin was delisted by the Cats last month. Due to the AFL’s new rule of four rookies rather than the old six, the back to back best and fairest for Geelong’s VFL side packed his bags and left Kardinia Park.
Like many delisted players, Simpkin still thought he had a decent chance at making it at AFL level. With the AFL’s new delisted free agency period beginning on the 1st of November, Simpkin waited anxiously to see if any team would snap him up. He didn’t have to wait long.
The 25-year-old was picked up by Hawthorn on the first day of the new period. Simpkin will be a senior Hawks player next year and rightfully deserves another chance. After four AFL games in seven years, all of which were this year, he was unfortunately ‘squeezed out’ of a talented Cats list.
The highly-skilled ball winner impressed Hawthorn recruiters, playing in the Elimination Final loss against Fremantle and was a standout for Geelong’s VFL team this year. He played 19 games and kicked 19 goals for the VFL affiliate and was named in the bests several times.
His gut-running and determination was shown on several occasions in the VFL and entitled him the chance to play for the Geelong senior team.
Many players who are delisted think that they have lost their chance to become an AFL footballer. Simpkin is one of many that has been in and out of the AFL system for seven years and had to bide his time to play an AFL match.
Originally rookie-listed by Sydney in 2005, he spent two seasons with the Swans until he was delisted at the end of 2007. As an ex-Geelong Falcons player in the TAC Cup, he moved back to Victoria and played with Geelong in the VFL. In 2010, he was picked up as a rookie for Geelong, biding his time in the VFL and completing the hard training. Even though he lost his chances at Sydney and Geelong, he was given another lifeline that so many delisted players are craving.
Simpkin will be a handy acquisition for Hawthorn next year; with a VFL premiership to his name as well as the two VFL best and fairest medals, Simpkin has what it takes to be an AFL player.
He will need to do what he has done before, and if he achieves this, he will be able to continue his dream of playing AFL footy.
A second chance, or even a third chance, in AFL does not come around all too often. Simpkin is one of the few players to be given another chance and he will surely be warming to the task – even if it is for the third time.
With any luck, we’ll get to see many more second or possibly third chances for delisted players this off-season.