“You sort of think that’s normal because you’re always a bit sore from footy, but it gets to a tipping point where it starts dragging you down every day,” he said.
On Wednesday, “Reg” Grundy confirmed that that round-one clash with the Bulldogs would be his last game. He told his teammates of his retirement just an hour before their late-afternoon training session.
“That’s always the hardest part,” he said. “I hadn’t really teared up at all, to be honest. I knew it was the right decision but as soon as I pulled up at the footy club I started to get a bit teary.”
Grundy had planned to hang up the boots at the end of 2019 but the injury forced his hand. It’s another signal of the changing of the guard that is under way at the Swans, who are likely to have a few more follow him before the year is out.
Recruited as a forward in the 2005 rookie draft from Norwood in Adelaide, Grundy played in the 2012 premiership win and was a model of absolute consistency over the years, lining up week after week on the game’s top spearheads and “just getting the job done”, in coach John Longmire’s words. Between 2009 and 2017 he missed just six out of a possible 219 games.
For a big bloke playing on the best key forwards, he’s been incredible.
John Longmire on Heath Grundy
“He played the most games in the competition between 2009 and 2018 of anyone, so his longevity has been amazing,’’ Longmire said. ‘‘His ability to get up week in, week out . . . for a big bloke playing on the best key forwards, he’s been incredible.’’
He finishes up at number seven on the club’s all-time appearances list and with the most games played by any Swans rookie. Grundy credits his longevity to a combination of the help and guidance from Sydney’s medical and fitness staff, his own pride in professionalism and preparation, and luck.
“I just always wanted to get up for games, whether I was injured or not,” he said. “I think I played some of my best footy injured, to be honest. I found that a bit of a driving factor.”
Grundy believes he is leaving a team that is in good shape for the future, highlighting Allir Allir’s development this year as a sign the key defensive stocks are healthy.
“It’s really exciting watching the young guys get out there,” he said.
But Longmire will find it hard to replace Grundy’s sheer dependability.
“You want to get your back six in order. That’s one of the real keys of what we’ve looked at over the years and we’ve been really fortunate that we’ve just had a number of blokes who we’ve just grabbed their magnet and put up there,” Longmire said. “He’s been the one we’ve been doing that with the opposition [forwards] for as long as I can remember.”
Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.