Career : 2000 - 2003
Debut : Round 15, 2000 vs Adelaide, aged 21 years, 203 days
Carlton Player No. 1041
Games : 18
Goals : 11
Last Game : Round 3, 2003 vs Essendon, aged 24 years, 135 days
Guernsey No. 19
Height : 192 cm (6 ft. 3 in)
Weight : 91 kg (14 stone, 5 lbs.)
DOB : 27 November, 1978
Andrew Merrington’s father Gary was a resolute full-back for Footscray during a fine career of 174 games between 1966 and 1975, and later served the Bulldogs in a number of administrative roles - including football manager. By 1999 Gary’s youngest son Andrew was a highly-promising junior footballer and cricketer, and Carlton picked him up at selection 90 in that year’s National Draft.
Merrington’s path to the AFL started at suburban club Strathmore, taking him through Under-18 TAC Cup football with the Calder Cannons, and then on to VAFA club St Bernards. At 192 cm and 91 kg he was a big unit, equally at home in the ruck or at centre half-forward, and the Blues hoped that he would further develop that versatility as a senior player.
Having inherited guernsey number 19 from ’95 Premiership forward Brad Pearce, Andrew spent the first half of season 2000 with Carlton Reserves. By June, the senior team was travelling along nicely (gunning for a tenth successive win) when Merrington was called up for his AFL debut in round 15 against the Adelaide Crows at Princes Park. Starting from the bench, he spent minimal time on the ground and had no influence, as Carlton won by 24 points in what was to be his only senior appearance for more than a year.
He wasn’t recalled to the seniors until July 2001, when the Bluebaggers hosted Melbourne at Princes Park in round 15 and dominated everywhere but on the scoreboard and lost by 6 points. Merrington kicked his first career goal from centre half-forward that afternoon, but apart from that was rarely sighted. He warmed the bench again the following week in the Blues’ big win over Fremantle, only to be omitted once more, and spend another lengthy period in the lower grade. Still, he kept the Carlton selectors interested with some slashing games of second-tier football, and at seasons end tied with Trent Sporn as the Blues’ Reserves Best and Fairest.
In 2002, Andrew seemed to be reaching his potential at last when he kicked four goals from full-forward in Carlton’s big loss to Port Adelaide at Football Park in round 4. Another good effort came in a 1-point loss to the West Coast Eagles in round 12, when he took 6 marks and kicked 2 goals from 19 possessions on the way to 14 games for the season. But his form then tapered off as the year progressed, and he was out of the side again after round 20.
Carlton’s dismal wooden spoon season in 2002 was followed-up by a cleanout of the club from top to bottom. Andrew dodged the axe at first, and played from the bench against Essendon in a round 3 Friday Night Special at the MCG. The Blues gleefully beat one of their traditional rivals by 11 points that night, but Merrington's contribution wasn't good enough to hold his place. He spent the rest of the season playing consistently well with the Reserves, but was eventually delisted at season’s end.
Looking for a fresh start in 2004, Merrington fielded offers from clubs in South Australia and Western Australia before deciding on head to East Perth with his good mate; ex-Blue Adam Pickering. He was an instant success at centre half-forward with the Royals, finishing runner-up in the clubs’ Best and Fairest award, and representing the WAFL against Victoria late in the year.
In 2005 Andrew did even better; booting 51 goals to be East Perth's leading goal-kicker, and winning the Royals' Best and Fairest outright. He represented the WAFL against Queensland in 2008, and played more than 100 senior games prior to his retirement in 2010.