Former Fremantle Dockers midfielder, and one of the more infamous taggers in the AFL‘s modern era, Ryan Crowley has become the first “top up” player to sign with the Essendon Football Club, as the Bombers looks to re-stock its playing list for the 2016 AFL Season in the wake of the WADA suspensions.
The Bombers have the ability to sign up to 10 top-up players, in order to field a competitive side in the 2016 season. As per the ruling of the AFL, these players must have previously been on an AFL list within the past 1-2 years, or be signed to Essendon‘s VFL squad.
The 31-year-old Crowley was delisted by the Dockers at the conclusion of the 2015 season, after himself serving a year long suspension after testing positive to a prohibited painkiller – one he took by accident on a game day in mid-2014.
Crowley previously played 188 games for Fremantle, including the losing 2013 AFL Grand Final, and developed a fearsome reputation as a shut-down midfield tagger – often being assigned the role on some of the game’s premier midfielders, and often coming away with the upper hand.
He had been training for an AFL return in 2015, but that was derailed with his reasonably unexpected delisting at the end of the season. Crowley then signed a two-year deal with WAFL side Swan Districts prior to accepting the offer from Essendon today.
The Bombers have reportedly also been circling recently retired or delisted players such as James Kelly, Matthew Stokes, Johnathan Simpkin, Paul Duffield, and Nick O’Brien among others.
The Bombers have until March 15th to complete their top-up recruitment process, before their list for the 2016 season has to be lodged.
It might now be worth pencilling June 4th in your footballing diaries, just for the sheer novelty of seeing Crowley line-up on former teammate Nat Fyfe.
Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images.