Club great departs

Tom Gribble (Belinda Vitacca Photography)

Dual J.J Liston Trophy winner Tom Gribble has confirmed his retirement from the Victorian Football League drawing the curtain on a glittering 141-game VFL career.

After a decade at Chirnside Park following a season with Geelong’s VFL outfit, Gribble finishes up with the second most appearances for Werribee having tied fellow best and fairest winner and club captain Dom Gleeson on 137 games.

“It was probably during the early stages of the season that I started to think that this might be my last,” Gribble said.

“The further things got along I felt more comfortable with the decision too.

“This year was the most enjoyable year I’ve had and most of the boys will attest to that. It was unreal winning 17 games in a row, and although not getting an 18th in the big dance was tough to swallow, for me this season was a great way to finish up after 10 years.”

The ball magnet who was crowned the league’s best player in 2019 and 2022 bows out alongside good mates Michael Sodomaco and Matt Hanson.

“I came to the club in 2014, Sods started here the year before I did and Matt came the year after me,” he said.

“They are a large part of why I stayed around for 10 years and their decisions to retire were also a contributing factor for me.

“It’s the friendships and relationships you build that keep you coming back. I was lucky enough to win a couple of individual accolades, but I’d trade those in a heartbeat to play in a premiership with my teammates.”

The loss of Gribble and Hanson from Werribee’s midfield is without a doubt a significant hiccup in the club’s quest to again reach a grand final. However, Gribble is confident the club has the talent to cover the pair’s departure.

“We saw Brewy this year take his game to a whole new level, Jack Henderson had another great year and is ready to step up and we’ve got younger guys ready for an opportunity,” he said.

“There’s been a high importance placed on our development program and we’ve put the groundwork into a number of guys over the last few years, so I’m confident the club is in pretty good spot.”

With his VFL days over Gribble has signed as a playing assistant coach of Bellarine Football Netball League club Geelong Amateur.

Despite his commitment to the Amateurs next year he plans to watch Werribee when he can in 2024.

“I won’t be stranger to the footy club,” Gribble said.

“Next year is a big one in terms of milestones and three guys I’m really close with in Brewy, Hendo and Louis Pinnuck will play their 100th games.

“Hopefully things can align on a couple of weekends and I can get along to see those big games. I’m definitely keen to get there and cheer on the boys from the side lines.”