Dom Cassisi – Retired Australian Rules Football Player
Not all that many AFL players can claim the distinction of having spent their entire career with one team.
One of the few that not only did exactly that, but did it for an extended time, was Domenic Cassisi, who played his entire AFL career for Port Adelaide. He also was captain of the team and contributed to Port Adelaides’ premiership in 2004.
Cassisi called a halt to his AFL participation in late July of 2014, when it became obvious, to him at least, that time was getting the better of him. It was a persistent knee injury, the bane of any athlete who depends upon their legs, which supplied the proverbial writing on the wall.
He exceeded the 200 match milestone, finishing with a total of 228, and few would dispute that the most significant of these was the 2004 victory in the grand final against Brisbane.
Cassisi, it would seem, grew weary of the struggle to get right every week.
Unlike many others who failed to realise that it was time to call it a day, he knew that even though his mind and his heart were still in the game and arguing for him to continue, the risk of a catastrophic injury that would impair his life permanently prodded the 32-year-old Cassisi, young by most standards, but somewhat advanced for a high calibre footy player, to get out whilst he was relatively intact physically.
He seemed to express that unique set of emotions that impacts any player who has spent a substantial portion of their lives doing what they love and living a dream, when he expressed his gratitude to Port Adelaide’s administration, coach Ken Hinkley, and all the Port Adelaide Power fans, when he was quoted by ABC News as saying, “I think it’s time for me to hand the baton to the next group of young players coming through.”
Dom Cassisi, although his humility would never permit him to take more credit than he deserved, contributed to some extent in the team’s revival over the past two seasons.
Dom Cassisi Career Highlights
Cassisi was pick 50 in the AFL draft class of 2000. He spent some time playing for East Freo of the WAFL before moving to the upper levels in 2002.
He played in only 18 games betwixt 2002 and 2003, and not full time initially, even though his debut was impressive.
When the 2004 season got underway, he had established himself to the extent that he played in all 25 matches and contributing in a major fashion as the Power would ascend to the top tier in that year’s premiership. The following year, though not as successful from a team vantage point, Cassisi had a better than average year, performing at a pace of 16 disposals per game and exceeding by 57 his number of possessions from the year previous. His club voted him third amongst the best and fairest.
The 2006 year was when injuries first started to impact him. He missed seven games. He exhibited enough form to maintain his reputation as one of his club’s most valuable players, but eventually lost his position as club vice-captain.
The following season, 2007, saw Cassisi having a season of consistent excellence, so much so that he received a three year deal from Port, along with regaining his role as vice-captain. His play in 2008 was without question the best of his career, where he established high water marks for possessions and tackles, finished a career best second for club best and fairest, and ascended to club captaincy. He would serve as captain until 2012, serving in that role for four years, before stepping down for the final two seasons of his career and returning to the number 25 guernsey number he sported when he made his debut in 2002.
One of Dom Cassisi’s other significant accomplishments was significant in that it came from the most unimpeachable of sources, his teammates.
They judged him best team man in awarding him the Fos William Medal four times consecutively from 2008-2011.
From a career perspective, Dom Cassisi can claim to have played in 228 matches, the type of longevity that can be rare in a violent sport. He had a total of 74 goals, 62 behinds, 1980 kicks, 2035 handballs, 4015 disposals, 670 marks and 1044 tackles.
His participation places him number six all-time for games played, trailing fifth place Brendon Lade by just six games, and not all that far behind top man Kane Cornes’ 293. Cassisi was also the Showdown Medalist in 2010, Round 17.
As a midfielder, Cassisi performed at a high level over a long period of time, showing prowess in the role that requires the ability to move the ball, work back to help the defense and push forward to help the forwards. This undoubtedly played a factor in the respect and admiration Cassisi’s teammates expressed for him. His coach, Ken Hinkley, praised his selfless nature, perhaps one of the highest compliments a midfield can receive.
Dom Cassisi’s team-first attitude is one that all young footy players, regardless of position, would do well to emulate. This attitude will serve Cassisi well in his future endeavours and will undoubtedly result in success similar to what he achieved on the oval.