FOOTY MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
I’ve only just jumped back on social media. I have a bit of a chuckle every now and then over what gets around in the news, what people you don’t even know come up and ask you about.
No one’s really pushed me to come back to footy – Luke Hodge included, despite one rumour. I don’t think I ever would come back to AFL footy. That part of my life is finished. Where I am, no one’s worrying about footy too much.
A few cousins have thrown up the possibility of playing in the NTFL. I’ve said that I’ll wait until after Christmas to decide. I haven’t really done anything since I stopped playing, so the body probably needs a bit of work.
For now, I’m just trying to get my mind right. Footy’s always there. It’s not going anywhere.
I’ve reflected here and there on what I did in my career; if I get a glimpse of some old footage or something. But that’s all in the past. I’m trying to look to the future. My new life.
I’ve had some good times playing with Hawthorn. I enjoyed every minute of it.
For all that happened in that Hawks era, the most memorable moment is perhaps still my first game. That’s when the childhood dream of playing AFL footy comes true. Round 1, 2008, against Melbourne at the MCG. I was nervous, scared, but calm. We won.
I was fortunate enough to play every game that first season, including the Grand Final. The first GF was pretty daunting but, on the other hand, making it your first year, you kind of think it’s going to happen all the time.
I probably didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have, even though I loved winning it in front of my family and friends. You naturally take it for granted as a kid. We had guys like Shane Crawford, who played 16 seasons and he’d just won his first premiership in his 305th game. That’s who I’m really glad we won it for.
I didn’t think I’d ever be playing and winning a Grand Final with Crawf. He’s a down-to-earth guy, humble. He did everything for the team.
You want to retire unbroken. Your body, your mind, your soul – they’re all things you need intact for life after footy. I didn’t want to grind it out until there was nothing left.
It’s the people you miss most. Bradley Hill – I miss Hilly a lot. I really clicked with him. Shaun Burgoyne. Derick Wanganeen. Cameron Stokes, we got drafted together from NT. Everyone from the Hawks, really.
Clarko is a pretty cruisy fella. He’s someone who is all about his family. He’ll do anything for his players and the club. He showed me a lot of understanding towards the end.
I just want to be remembered as a guy who played for the team. That’s all I ever wanted to do as a player, and I have done that throughout my career. I played the Hawthorn way. To have won four premierships with those guys was a wonderful bonus.
I left the Hawks in a good place. They had a terrific season, making finals. It’s good to see another family member – West Coast’s Willie Rioli, my cousin – in a Grand Final, too.
It might surprise people, but the 2014 Grand Final, the second of the three-peat, was the most special for me.
Uncle Sibby passed away in 2012 and I thought I’d dedicate the year to him. We lost the GF to Sydney that year, then played them again in 2014.
I played VFL the week before after coming back from a hamstring injury, and then Clarko gave me the nod to start. The scorecard won’t tell you I had a big game, but I did my job for the team and the Grand Final was won heading into the final quarter.
That last quarter was so emotional. It was like I’d got one for my uncle.