Canberra Demons Captain Aaron Bruce has officially announced his retirement from the NEAFL competition.
Joining the Canberra program as a foundation player in 2016, Bruce has played an instrumental role in its progression since its inception into the NEAFL competition.
Having previously played NEAFL football with Eastlake, Bruce departs the competition as the current games record holder and a highly respected player, but more importantly as a highly valued leader and person within the Canberra footballing community.
Canberra's Captain since 2017, Bruce's leadership on and off the field will be sorely missed, but his legacy will continue into the future for years to come and he will always remain a Canberra Demon.
Speaking exclusively with canberrademons.com.au, Bruce described his decision to retire from NEAFL football as 'emotionally difficult'.
“The decision I have made to head back to play senior football at a local ACT level is not one that came easy to me having spent so many years playing in the NEAFL," Bruce said.
"With the continued time commitments required to be able to prepare and perform at the NEAFL level, and when combined with my increasing family and work commitments the decision I have made, whilst emotionally very difficult, was fairly straight forward in the end.
“I come away from my time in the NEAFL with an immense amount of pride at the development of myself as a person and as a footballer and also in my leadership.
"The challenges of pushing myself to play at the highest possible level that I can for so long is something I will always be immensely proud of, and achievements such as the current games record, and my time as Captain of the club are an amazing part of my journey that I look back on fondly."
Following his retirement from the NEAFL, Bruce will reunite with his 'beloved' Eastlake Demons in 2020, returning to the club for the first time since 2015.
“I am very excited by what challenges lie ahead for me as I get my head around playing back in the AFL Canberra competition, and get back to my beloved Eastlake Demons,” he said.
“Being able to get back to play with so many old mates and also continue my relationship with John Harper from the last four years of the NEAFL program, are all elements of the 2020 season to come that I find super exciting.”
Canberra's General Manager of Football Shaun Young, paid tribute to Aaron's contribution to both Canberra and NEAFL football.
“Aaron’s contribution to not only the Canberra Demons, but the NEAFL competition has been significant over the journey, and on behalf of everyone involved at the Canberra Demons we say a sincere thank you to Aaron, Ellen and Vivian for allowing the Canberra Demons to be his second home for the past four years," Young said.
“Aaron is a great example of the pathway that exists in Canberra via the Canberra Demons program, for people that have the ability and attributes that Aaron has, that want to test themselves at the highest level available in Canberra.
"Aaron now has reached a point in his life and football that sees him return home to the Eastlake Demons and in doing so will become a valuable asset for Eastlake in the AFL Canberra competition.”
Eastlake Demons Head Coach, John Harper labelled the signing of Bruce as 'invaluable'.
“As Head Coach of the Eastlake Football Club, I am extremely honoured and proud to have Aaron Bruce returning to play with the club in the local Canberra competition," said Harper.
"Aaron’s strong character, competitive nature, playing experiences, and leadership qualities, will be invaluable in the development of our current playing group for success in 2020 and beyond.”
Aaron Bruce Fact File
2 x NEAFL Eastern Conference Team of the Year member (2011, 2012)
2 x Eastlake Leading Goalkicker (2012, 2015)
3 x Canberra Leading Goalkicker (2016, 2017, 2018)
Canberra Captain 2017 - 2019
NEAFL games record holder
Third-highest NEAFL goalkicker of all time