CARLTON veteran Kade Simpson cemented himself as Carlton royalty when he ran out for his 300th AFL game against Port Adelaide in Round 8 this year.
The 34-year-old became one of just five Carlton players to have completed the 300-game milestone, joining club legends John Nicholls, Bruce Doull, Craig Bradley and Stephen Silvagni.
In the lead-up to Simpson’s huge achievement, Carltons five 300 gamers gathered for a historic photo at Ikon Park. With the old Gardiner Stand in the background, the moment beautifully captured an iconic piece of club history.
View this post on Instagram
Taken at pick No.45 in the 2002 AFL national draft and heading into his 17th season, ‘Simmo’ has emerged as one of the league’s most durable players, not to mention one of the Blues’ most beloved clubmen. Always recognisable in his long-sleeved No.6 guernsey, Simpson was appointed as vice-captain under skipper Chris Judd between 2009 and 2014, and Marc Murphy in 2016 and 2017.
To celebrate his achievement, members and supporters had the chance to collect a limited-edition Simpson bobblehead before the game, as well as purchase special ‘Simmo’ merchandise.
Teammates and coaches, along with past and present Carlton staff honoured the evergreen defender, singing the little warrior’s praises.
What they said
Former Carlton recruiter
“He always feels that we are going to win the next game. He always portrays positivity, before the match or during the training week. The fan base knows that he cares a lot about the club and winning and tries to give the supporters something to cheer about.
“His great strength with the team is in team meetings. When he speaks everyone listens.”
Former Carlton coach
“Every time I see him play now I think to myself what a unique individual he is. He’s defied expectations and it just shows what wonderful qualities he’s got. Those intangible things you can’t see – mental toughness, desire, determination, persistence and perseverance.
“Carlton supporters appreciate Kade Simpson because they know the hardship and the heartache and the disappointment that players face each week and they know supporters feel it as well. But they see Kade out there and he appears to me to be carrying the banner and has been a great leader of the club.”
“He was one of those boys that everyone loved. He has probably been the heart and soul of the footy club for a long time now. To have the longevity that he did and to create the friendships that he has at the footy club, he will forever be a Carlton champion.”
“I’ve got fond memories of his 250th, it was really close. I laid a tackle and we both fell on the ground together and the siren went and it was a moment I won’t ever forget.”
“He doesn’t say a hell of a lot but what he does say is really important and he’s an inspiration to other guys around him and he’s someone you just love playing footy with.”
View this post on Instagram
“He was a great team player and gave everything he had towards the team.”
“For my first few years, a lot of it was to try and earn his respect specifically.
He’s one of my favourite players when I grew up being a Carlton. For me personally to play alongside him in that journey has been great.”
“I think at it’s a magical story really to look at the build of Simmo. He’s just been one of our icons really in the last 15 or 16 years. To do that week after week, year after year, you have to have the mental love and apply yourself.”
“My first impressions [of Simpson] were that he was highly skilled, very shy but he probably didn’t know then what he was going to turn into – just a wonderful player.”
What he said
“It’s embarrassing really to be named alongside these sorts of guys, not only legends of Carlton but legends of the AFL. I see myself as incredibly lucky to have played for as long as I have, but once you retire you’re retired forever (and) I’m not about to give up just yet.
“I’ll keep churning away.”