Home » ‘This is unbelievably sad’: Former AFL player Cam McCarthy dead at 29

‘This is unbelievably sad’: Former AFL player Cam McCarthy dead at 29

Former AFL footballer Cam McCarthy, who played for both the Fremantle Dockers and Greater Western Sydney, has died at 29.

McCarthy was found unresponsive at a home in Perth’s south late on Thursday afternoon.

His death is not being treated as suspicious.

The Dockers have paid tribute to McCarthy, who played 49 games and kicked 63 goals over four seasons with the club.

“His death is tragic, and to all of his family, friends and teammates, we extend our deepest condolences,” Fremantle chief executive Simon Garlick said in a statement.

“Cam was a kind and easygoing person at the club, and he was someone who had a habit of making people smile and laugh. His talent was undeniable and he loved his footy.

“Our thoughts are with Cam’s family and his loved ones during this time.”

Garlick said the club would pay tribute to McCarthy ahead of tonight’s clash with Sydney at Perth Stadium.

“Before the bounce, as the teams gather to have their final huddle, the teams will pause for a moment’s silence to recognise Cam,” he said.

“We felt this was both an appropriate and fitting recognition of what was an incredibly significant contribution to our club from Cam, and the broader footballing community.”

McCarthy (right) kicked 63 goals across 49 games with Fremantle.(AAP: Julian Smith)

Greater Western Sydney also released a statement, saying the news has had a “profound effect” on the club.

“We are saddened to learn of Cam’s passing,” the club’s CEO David Matthews said.

“Cam had great energy and was a much-loved member of our club for the seasons he was here. He was very popular and a bright footballing talent.

“On behalf of the Giants, we extend our deepest sympathies to the entire McCarthy family and his many friends.”

AFL career ends

McCarthy’s most recent club, South Fremantle Football Club, also released a statement saying it was deeply saddened by his passing.

“Cam is remembered not just as a prodigious football talent, but as a popular, compassionate and caring person who had time for everyone at our club,” the club said.

“He will be dearly missed.

“The entire South Fremantle Football Club community offers condolences to the McCarthy family at this difficult time.”

McCarthy joined the Dockers ahead of the 2017 season after leaving the Greater Western Sydney Giants, where he played 21 AFL games.

McCarthy kicks ahead against the Suns

McCarthy began his AFL career with the Greater Western Sydney Giants.(Getty Images: Mark Nolan)

He sat out the 2016 season in WA after the Giants refused his request to be traded to Fremantle.

The clubs reached an agreement on a deal a year later.

McCarthy was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2020 after collapsing during training, and after being told his contract would not be renewed he and the Dockers parted ways.

It marked the end of his AFL career after a total of 70 games and 99 goals.

He returned to South Fremantle in the WAFL for two seasons, but walked away from the sport after managing just 10 games in that time.

Fremantle DOckers player Cam McCarthy takes a mark

Cam McCarthy of the Dockers is tackled by Luke Shuey of the Eagles during the AFL Marsh Community Series pre-season match between the West Coast Eagles and the Fremantle Dockers at HBF Arena in Perth, Saturday, March 7, 2020.(AAP Image:Gary Day)

In July 2023 McCarthy was stopped by police near the south-west town of Harvey.

He recorded a blood alcohol reading of 0.414, more than eight times the legal limit.

The offence saw him suspended from driving for 10 months.

Tributes flow

WA Premier Roger Cook described McCarthy as “a great sportsperson, a terrific member of our community”.

WA's premier speaks at a press conference inside a small room

Roger Cook spoke of his shock at McCarthy’s death at a press conference on Friday morning.(ABC News: Nicolas Perpitch)

“This is unbelievably sad,” he said.

“Our heart goes out to that family and friends who must be really hurting today.

“Every elite sportsperson has a range of pressures in their lives and when they move on from their sporting careers those pressures remain.”

Fourth death among former Dockers

McCarthy’s death continues a run of tragedy for former Dockers players.

Shane Yarran took his own life in April 2018, while just six months later Colin Sylvia died in a car crash in Melbourne.

And in January of 2022 Harley Balic died just days after his 25th birthday after battling drug addiction and mental health issues.

The Dockers will wear black armbands tonight in their match against Sydney.

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