Courage and determination, words used with relative abandon in summing up football players, could not be any more apt than for Sydney's Jude Bolton. A man who has put his body on the line multiple times in each and every one of the more than 300 AFL games he played, Bolton was twice rewarded with football's ultimate award, a premiership medallion.
Bolton began his playing career with Aberfeldie in Melbourne's north-west. He then played with under-18s team the Calder Cannons, before being drafted by the Swans with the eighth pick of the 1998 National Draft. Making his debut in round 12, 1999, Bolton was dropped after two matches but returned in round 17 to become a virtually permanent member of the side over the next 13 seasons.
As his career progressed, Bolton became renowned as an “inside” midfielder, throwing himself at the ball, or the man with the ball, at every opportunity. Tackling in particular became a feature of Bolton's game. In Sydney's Round 3, 2011 match against West Coast, Bolton laid 19 tackles, a record number which stands until this day.
Bolton was an integral part of the Swans' drought-breaking 2005 premiership team, and was named in Sydney's best players in the Grand Final.
Remarkably, despite being one of the Swans most consistent performers over eight seasons, Sydney toyed with the idea of trading Bolton after the 2007 season. To the long-term relief of both player and club, no deal was ever struck. Bolton went onto become an even better player in the ensuing five seasons.
Bolton faced potential heartbreak in Sydney's Round 19, 2012 match against Carlton when he damaged his posterior cruciate ligament just three games short of his 300th game and on the eve of the finals series. But he made a remarkable recovery, returning for Sydney's final home-and-away game against Geelong. Three weeks later, he picked up 18 possessions and kicked two goals in his 300th game, which saw Sydney defeat Collingwood to clinch a spot in the 2012 Grand Final. On the following Saturday, Bolton claimed a second premiership medallion as the Swans defeated the highly-fancied Hawthorn to take the 2012 premiership.
Bolton saddled up for one final season in 2013 and was as reliable and courageous as ever, finally retiring after the Preliminary Final loss to Fremantle with 325 games to his credit.
Since Jude’s retirement he’s been busy in the media working for Channel 7, MMM and ESPN. Jude is also a popular MC and motivational speaker.