Legend departs the nest

Ben Jolley (Jacob Pattison)338076_02

Harper Sercombe

Victorian Football League games record holder Ben Jolley has called time on his playing days in the league.

Jolley, played a record breaking 306 games and kicked 82 goals in his illustrious VFL career, including a club record of 217 games at the Seagulls.

Captain of the Calder Cannons 2004 premiership team and the 2004 under-18 Vic Metro team, Jolley was rookie listed by Essendon in 2005 and played four AFL games in 2006. He then went on to play with the Bendigo Bombers before crossing to Williamstown in 2008, captaining the club from 2012 to 2017.

In his eleven seasons at Williamstown, Jolley has won the Gerry Callahan Medal, the club’s best and fairest award, a record-equalling four times, and captained the Seagulls’ stand-alone 2015 premiership team.

The Ron James Memorial Trophy, voted on by the playing group each year for the player they feel shows respect, professionalism and sacrifices a player makes for the team, was presented to Jolley for the ninth time, and eighth consecutive year, in 2017.

Jolley has been named in the VFL team of the year on seven consecutive occasions, twice represented the Victorian state team, and is a life member of both Williamstown and the VFL.

After departing the Seagulls after the 2018 season, Jolley spent time at Port Melbourne and Essendon, before returning to Williamstown’s this year.

For someone with the accolades Jolley has, walking away from it all would seem to be a hard decision, however, he said after 18 years the timing felt right.

“The outcome that was reached all happened fairly organically,” he said.

“The end of the season came around, that inner drive to get things going and started for another season of footy wasn’t quite there and when that was the case the decision was kind of made.”

Of all the accolades and accomplishments that Jolley has achieved over his career, he said being a premiership captain at the Seagulls has been the “crowning jewel” on his resume.

“I can’t deviate away from that event,” he said.

“But of course, from a longevity perspective, the milestones that were ticked off this year, to be able to share them with family, current teammates, was amazing. But a whole lot of ex-teammates as well, that made those couple of days really memorable and special.”

Another memorable event that occurred this season was the return of finals football to Williamstown’s home ground, which is something that Jolley said he was proud of being a part of.

“As time passes if anyone will remember Ben Jolley as a footballer, they’re going to remember him, I’m assuming, in a Williamstown football jumper,” he said.

“So to come full circle, to play in the previous final that we had in Williamstown, it was really nice.”

Now, in life post-football Jolley is hoping to have some separation from the industry and spend some extra time at home with his family.

“I’m very much looking forward to the next four months, having a bit more time available for the girls at home and Jane,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to a bit of extra spare time and seeing what that actually involves, I don’t think coaching is going to be the pathway that I’ll be heading down.

“A little bit of a break is really at the forefront of my thinking at the moment.”

While the Seagulls will be without their star midfielder next season, Jolley said he is bullish on their premiership aspirations, which he is keen on watching from afar.

“There can’t be anything but those expectations placed on the playing group and footy club,” he said.

“All things being equal in terms of the improvement in the side and the competition as a whole, the club should certainly be putting their expectations of going at least a step better than what they did this year.”