KOROIT veteran Joe McLaren is hoping to bow out of senior football with a slice of Hampden league history.
The five-time Saints premiership defender wants to help Koroit become just the second team to win four straight senior premierships before hanging up his boots.
McLaren, 39, announced his retirement at Saints’ training on Tuesday night.
He will run out for the grand final against Port Fairy on Saturday determined to finish on a high and ensure Koroit equals Warrnambool’s premiership streak record of four flags between 1986 and 1989.
McLaren is one of seven Koroit players aiming to be part of a four-peat. Dallas Mooney, Taylor Mulraney, Ben Goodall, Isaac Templeton, Jeremy Hausler and Ethyn Zimmer are the others.
“It’s huge. It’s only been done once by Warrnambool,” he said.
“For a small country club to be able to get near a record like that is pretty special in itself, so to give ourselves an opportunity to equal it is unreal.”
McLaren said a sense of club loyalty was a key reason for the Saints’ success – they’re preparing to play in their fifth straight decider and haven’t missed finals since 1997.
“Blokes play at the footy club for the right reasons,” he said.
“Blokes don’t get paid more than anyone else – it’s even across the board.”
The Woolsthorpe dairy farmer, who played 69 AFL games for St Kilda and North Melbourne, said a whole-of-club approach was also a key player in the Saints’ good fortunes.
“The club is going in the right direction and each year we are trying to get better,” McLaren said.
“If you are not trying to get better, you’ll probably get overtaken. The way we look at the footy club is that on and off the field we’re trying to get better in every aspect of football and netball.”
McLaren said he felt the time was right to retire, saying “I’m out of steam”.
He hopes to spend more time with his two daughters, Tahlia, 12, and Ella, 8.
“It (retirement) hit home the other night when I told the girls,” McLaren said.
“Ella started crying saying ‘I want you to play forever’.”