AFL journeyman Josh Bruce may have played at three different football clubs, but he never really had luck on his side.
So it is fitting, yet hardly fair, that another ruptured ACL brought to a close the enigmatic swingman’s AFL career after 163-games with GWS, St Kilda and finally the Western Bulldogs.
In a pub in Melbourne’s western suburbs – owned by his teammate Tom Liberatore – Bulldogs players and coach Luke Beveridge gathered as Bruce told them his time was up.
Analysis, local footy and the biggest moments, Seven and 7plus are the home of footy shows for every fan. Stream them all for free on 7plus >>
The Dogs, who are under pressure to make the finals after the horror loss on the weekend to struggler West Coast, also used the moment as a bonding session as emotions ran high.
It was a sad end for Bruce.
In July this year, Bruce suffered his second ACL injury in the space of two years.
Josh Bruce hugs his daughter in a pub in Footscray Credit: Screenshot
That made it the third time his footy season had been wrecked by injury.
In 2018 when he was at St Kilda, he managed only three games, dealing with bone stress in his lower back then fracturing his fibula in a training incident with with a teammate.
Port Adelaide captain makes shock call ahead of AFL finals
Fresh pictures emerge of AFL champion after ‘nightclub attack’
At his best, Bruce was a dynamic star. He achieved the rare feats of a 10-goal bag in 2021 in a game against North Melbourne.
And in 2015, he kicked 50 goals and finished eighth in the Coleman Medal race (the AFL’s leading goalkicker) when he was at St Kilda.
Bruce was an inaugural player at the GWS Giants, a powerful goalkicker for the Saints, and a swingman for the Bulldogs, playing back and forward.
He finished his career with 234 goals from his 163 matches, across three different clubs.
Josh Bruce after injuring his knee in July. Credit: Getty Images
“I moved out of home at 17 to Sydney as a skinny, hyperactive little kid and I’m finishing here as a not-so-skinny, still hyperactive grown man, with two beautiful kids,” Bruce said.
“I can rest my head on the pillow knowing that every gruelling pre-season session, every rehab session and every game at three clubs, I gave my absolute everything.
“I hope I finish with the respect of my peers and coaches for being a resilient, effort-based, hard-working team-mate who never gave up for the team.
“The move to the Bulldogs has been one of the most defining moments of my life. I’ve got so many connections through Rohan Smith coaching me at U16’s level, living with Stewart Edge in my first year at GWS and time spent with Ameet Bains at St Kilda.
“It’s fitting to finish up here and I look forward to exploring some coaching opportunities into the future.”
Coach Luke Beveridge said: “Josh is an outstanding team man and we’ve been fortunate to have him represent the Bulldogs for the past four seasons,” Beveridge said.
“Despite facing his fair share of adversity, Josh entered the building every day with the same sense of energy and enthusiasm which lifted the playing group and staff around him.
“Josh is a much-loved figure. He should be proud of his time with us, and of everything he achieved in his career which spanned 13 years.
“We wish Josh, Pip, Poppy and Augie all the best for the future, and they know they’re always welcome at the Bulldogs.”
Divisive AFL great doubles down on inflammatory comments
Essendon fans roast own club over change to iconic guernsey
If you’d like to view this content, please adjust your Cookie Settings.