Dogs’ premiership hero calls time
WESTERN Bulldogs premiership star Clay Smith has retired with chronic knee problems.
Smith, 25, told his teammates at Whitten Oval on Monday his career was over after 55 games in seven AFL seasons.
The hard-nut will be remembered for kicking four goals in the first half of the club's famous preliminary final win in 2016.
Smith was grieving from the loss of one of his closest high school friends - Dale Walkinshaw - but still played and produced a famous finals performance.
Smith then kicked one goal against Sydney in the grand final as he became a premiership player after fighting back from three knee reconstructions.
"It was a very difficult decision for me to retire at my age, but the right one to make given my knee hasn't been able to fully recover," Smith said.
"I've given everything to try to make it back this season, but unfortunately it hasn't worked out the way I would've liked.
"I want to thank everyone at the Western Bulldogs for their support over my career, and especially the medical staff, physios and strength and rehab staff for their care and professionalism.
"It's been a difficult road for me, but I was able to experience being in the premiership team and I wouldn't swap that for anything.
"I've also met some great people, made some incredible friendships, and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to play AFL football.
"While life without footy will leave a big hole in my life, it has shaped me as a person and helped me grow and I'm thankful for that."
Smith was drafted at pick No.17 in the 2011 draft.
The Bulldogs were also considering Hayden Crozier, who joined the Dogs last October but plumped for Smith, liking his contested game and grunt.
Smith is the fourth member of the Dogs' 2016 premiership team to depart. He follows Matthew Boyd (retired), Joel Hamling (Fremantle) and Jake Stringer (Essendon).
September superstar Liam Picken (concussion) has not played this season, although is expected to return in 2019.