Alan Stringer: Glenelg premiership player

 

 

So how does a Norwood tragic come to be writing about a Glenelg premiership player?

 

 

 

I shared this post of Trent Dumont on Facebook and Alan Stringer commented.  Soon I was arranging to meet up with him and tell his story re his battle with depression. I admit this article is different in that it is the first time I have written an article without having a previous relationship with the person concerned.

 

Interviewing Alan was the first time I had met him. We were soon chatting away like old footy buddies. Anyway, back to the beginning.

 

Alan is the son of Marge and Lyall, with brothers, Barry and Wayne, and grew up in a very small country town of Koolunga. They attended Koolunga-Brinkworth area school and then Clare High School living on the family farm specializing in wheat, barley, legumes and cattle.

 

Football career

 

Alan played his junior footy for Gulnare-Redhill-St Kilda Under 16s then followed his brothers down to Prospect in 1977 (the late Barry was a gun wingman for North Adelaide). He played in the Under 19s for two years, coached by Charlie Payne and Rodney Robran, losing the grand final in ‘77 against West Adelaide (Grantley Fielke and John Kantilaftas starring for the Bloods.)

 

In ’79, Alan caught glandular fever and missed the entire season. In 1980 he was still recuperating and it remained very much a medical era of experimentation. Alan would train fully only to be lethargic on the weekends. Nowadays the training loads would be managed completely differently.

 

Alan finally made his league debut against West Adelaide in Round 12 1981, proceeding to play 25 games for the Roosters at the end of ‘82 having missed some with injury as well.

 

Alan was a fan of Mick Nunan and personally didn’t have any problems with North but brother Wayne was on the outer with Mick. Blood being thicker than water and desperate to experience some success (North were struggling at the time) the Stringers approached Port Adelaide about going there but were knocked back by the Magpies.

 

A move to West Adelaide nearly eventuated before Glenelg decided to take a punt. Their physicality was certainly important at the Bay in the long run. Alan played mainly half forward with the odd spell at half back.

 

Alan was dropped to the reserves early in the 1985 season. To Graham Cornes’s credit he asked what position he would like to play. Alan replied ‘in the middle’. He played well in the reserves and when put back up played centre. Alan became a vital player in the back-to-back ‘85-’86 Glenelg flags.

 

 

 

 

In 1987, Glenelg came from the elimination final only to be comprehensively defeated by North Adelaide in the grand final (Alan admits it was a completely different feeling to the previous two years.)

 

The Bays again came from the elimination final in 1988 only to fall to Port Adelaide at the final hurdle, with Alan having a fantastic season finishing runner up to Chris McDermott in the B & F. He also finished fourth in the Magarey, played state footy and made the best players in each final.

 

Alan then surprisingly decided to retire. He certainly went out on top – the constant travel and  another child on the way were huge contributing factors in his decision. From 1989 to 1991, Alan played for Brinkworth Spalding Redhill who were coached by his late brother Barry, and played state country footy under the late Kevin McSporran, Barry Stringer and John Griffen. ‘Griff’ is very complimentary of Alan who he said provided elite on-field leadership.

 

Career details for Alan Stringer HERE

 

Coaching

 

Alan then went on to coach North Clare, having a massive impact winning four flags between ‘91 and ’95, interrupted in 1993 by a year playing for Riverton-Saddleworth under his good mate ex-North Adelaide and Fitzroy gun Bill Lokan.

 

Keen to take his coaching further, Alan came to town coaching St Peters Old Collegians in the SAAFL competition. In ’97, he coached the Glenelg reserves with brother Wayne as the senior coach (admitting some frustration at the way the club was run at the time), had season 1998 off and coached Broadview in ’99.

 

Alan then had the enjoyable experience of coaching his own children at Happy Valley from 2002-2005 including a flag in 2003.

 

Illness

 

In 2004, Alan became ill – there was a lot of uncertainty in what was wrong which contributed to the stress and worry. He felt lethargic and similar to having chronic fatigue, Alan was continuing to try to work full-time, coaching kids and maintain a so-called normal life domestically and in general.

 

Alan was eventually diagnosed with Q fever which was caught from inhaling from feral goats after giving birth. This had occurred on a farming trip to Cobar (nowadays everyone involved in the abattoirs is inoculated against the disease.) In some regards it was like finding a needle in the haystack to be diagnosed with Q fever.

 

The illness really wore Alan down and in 2011 Alan hurt his shoulder at work, having two shoulder operations and he hardly worked at all for five years. Alan saw several psychiatrists and psychologists and struggled to make a decent connection.

 

His marriage with Robyn ended and Alan virtually didn’t speak to anyone for a couple of years. During his deepest struggles he was institutionalised five times for a two week period each time. Alan had convinced himself that this was his lot in life. Thank goodness he made a connection, which is part of the battle, with a psychologist named Daniel.

 

Reconnecting

 

There was an extract in the Sunday Mail from Scott Hodges’s book (Not All Black and White) explaining part of his own problems. Alan read it and could see himself in it. He rang Graham Cornes to get Scott’s number. Scott advised him to go and buy the book and see if any part resonated with him.

 

Alan read the book from start to finish without stopping. He rang Scott and said the he could see himself in the whole bloody book. This has started a continuing vital relationship where they speak regularly and go fishing. Alan cannot speak highly enough of Scott and his wife Kerry and how important they have been in his recovery.

 

Alan mentions that we all have demons and that some things in his life there hadn’t been restitution – losing his father Lyall and brother Barry to sudden deaths from heart attacks; the Q fever not being diagnosed; and he admits making irrational decisions due to poor health and not being able to function properly.

 

Alan has been interviewed by Phil Smyth, Barry Curtin and Greg Anderson on Channel 44 about his life and struggles I think it is time and important to have Alan’s thoughts and explaining also what he has been through below (thanks Phil for permission to use.)

 

 

 

 

 

Graham Cornes also interviewed Alan Stringer in one of his episodes of Conversations with Cornesy– it is a must listen (thankyou Graham for permission to use.)

 

https://www.fiveaa.com.au/shows/conversations-with-cornesy/Alan-Stringer

 

I just think it is vital to listen and learn from Alan speaking. Alan’s goals now are to reconnect with people (even just doing this interview I rang Justin Scanlon and Michael Aish, whom Alan had played state footy with in 1988, and he had a chat and arranged to catch up with both), be a good father, and look after himself. His motto is ‘don’t sweat the small stuff, persist and persevere’.

 

Recovering from depression has been far harder than playing footy – it has been a journey. Alan is opening up now about living a better life. He is extremely passionate about helping others.

 

Alan is back working part time, thanks Tony Symonds in that regard – a fellow Glenelg player who wasn’t afraid to throw his hand out and give Alan some needed support.

 

Mental health is such a vital subject – we are all guilty of not talking enough about our real problems and we don’t look after ourselves enough. It has been a pleasure to meet you, Alan, listen and learn from you. I look forward to our relationship developing further.

 

Alan is keen to help anyone – THANK YOU!

 

 

Please share this article. It is one which every single person can learn from.

 

Alan’s words:

“The most important thing in my life is my health, physical, emotional and mental aspects of my life. My goal is to maintain my status quo of enjoying the company of my three beautiful boys, their beautiful wives and children. I have wonderful people around me who lift me up every day, and keep me focused on the here and now with a forecast of a positive, happy and content future.

I am currently engaging in guest speaking performances, spreading the word about mental health and its effects on families and individuals, and hoping to shed some light on this hideous disease that is crippling many in Australia as we speak.

My message is simple to those suffering and the message is that there is real light at the end of a very dark tunnel, and that we are all here to help.”

 

Sara,Dylan,Matt, Alan holding Judd; Judd’s mum & dad, Jacinta & Todd. Photo supplied by Alan Stringer.

 

 

To read more from Rulebook click HERE

 

 

Lifeline  is a free and confidential support service which can be reached on 13 11 14.

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Comments

  1. Great article Malcolm. As a North supporter I was not a fan of Alan once he left Prospect. However as someone who has himself spent a month in a psychiatric hospital I am full of empathy for Alan’s struggles and for the way some of his friends and family helped pull him through.

  2. Another great article Malcolm regarding an incredibly difficult but important topic. Alan was public enemy no.1 for me after witnessing his king hit on Tommy Warhurst in 1986 as a 13 year old with front row seat in the Western Stand. That was footy back in the day I guess, “whatever it took” was the motto. But footy is just footy and pales in significance to important things in life like health and we’ll being. I’m sorry to read of how tough Alan has had it and am very glad he’s on the road to recovery, albeit it’s a long path that requires a lot of vigilance. I genuinely hope Alan is able to get through life happy and healthy, and I think it shows he quality of the bloke that he’s sought help and by sharing his story is able to pay it forward by helping others. All the best Alan and thanks again Book! Cheers, JK

  3. Yep, as a Port fan, Alan Stringer was “My David Granger” too – but as everyone now realises – and is clearly spelled out well in Book’s Article and the comments above, Life is more important than Footy.

    I too commend and respect Alan for coming through the worst of it – thanks to Scotty Hodges, Tony Symonds, and everyone else who has helped – and now also for wanting to help others too.

    With the sheer sadness and shock of Spud Frawley ending it all, there is a clear warning that it is an ongoing situation, sometimes a battle and the more aware and honest about one’s own frailties the better, and the more friends, family members and even old football foes that connect and look out for Alan and everyone else in the same situation, the better!

    P.
    Arson Garson

  4. Well done Book! Given the recent passing of Danny Frawley, this topic is very raw in the mainstream community … again. The statistics around male suicide and mental health disease are still alarming. We need more men to speak up to create ongoing awareness of the daily struggles that men face – ‘Groundhog Day’. Congratulations to Alan who shared his story – making himself vulnerable in the depths of despair, is a testament to him. I think it is important to also recognise those that have spoken up before him such as Scott Hodges and let us acknowledge those before Scott … Wayne Schwass, Wayne Phillips and the many others who have done the same with or without a public profile. Governments of the Day shun organisations or agents for change that advocate for supports because it means injecting funds to implement the urgent need for vital social programs. And social issues such as men’s (mental) health lag well behind compared to other causes. Speaking up puts the issue front and centre in the public eye and the conversation around it pushes those with monies to fund it.

  5. I admired Alan as a Glenelg supporter for helping us to to win back to back flags in 85 and 86 with his physicality and no nonsense approach to football.
    After reading your article Rulebook, my admiration for him has increased, as he has taken on an incredibly tough task, and seems like he has conquered it.
    Well done Rulebook on a thoughtful article and one that is sadly quite topical.

    Regards, Steve

  6. Malcolm, a very inspiring story, mental health is a very serious problem. A relation and a good friend of mine both committed suicide. Getting help is essential. Keep up the good work Malcolm.

  7. Thanks for writing this, Rulebook. Alan has an important story to tell and I admire the efforts people like him and Scott Hodges are putting into telling their story at every opportunity. It requires great bravery and a determination to help others.

  8. Ray Higginbottom says

    Well Done Rulebook on such an excellent article.Also thankyou to Alan as if he talks and brings this terrible illness to light he is doing amazing things.

  9. Michael Rehn says

    I was never a big fan of Alan Stringer or the way he played the game, in fact when I read he and his brother were Bay bound I nreally thought they were heading to their rightful home. But, seriously I cannot help but to admire Alan Stringer for the courage he has shown in battling the ravages of Depression and other mental health issues.and very much hope he can get on top of the issues. Many would have nursed sore spots after confronting Alan on field, but I can’t help thinking that many will in time to come be very grateful for the courageous way Alan has shared his battle and defeated their own demons following his inspiration. A great write up Malcolm, and given the incidence of mental illness, sadly of mental illness amongst many of our young sportspeople, an issue which needs to be treated openly. My very best wishes to Alan Stringer !!!

  10. Imo your best article to date Malcolm Ashwood. Alan Stringer was a product of the times and was a very effective player in assisting the Bays to 2 premierships. Your article highlights the need to support past and present players from all Clubs re the blight of depression. Good luck Alan Stringer in your fight against this disease. Happily shared to make others aware and supportive.

  11. What a captivating article. I will definitely be heading straight to YouTube to reminisce over some Stringer highlights from back in the day. I was only a kid back then, but growing up in a Redlegs household I always quietly admired the bays and that super star lineup they had back then. Mental health was as real back then as it is today and my heart goes out to all those who suffered in silence.

  12. Charmaine Brillanti says

    Malcolm great article, such a strong message there. For me it’s “Don’t be afraid, you’re not alone”. When you feel alone, that’s the time to reach out to someone as Alan did. I wish him well in his continued recovery.

  13. Great read. I can identify with all that is said on here, having a nephew who has been suffering for 10+ years, but with the help of family, and a few times in Rehab he is still with us. We all at first thought he was just being anti-social. I have lost a couple of relatives and friends with suicide also because they were too afraid to speak up. Don’t be afraid, there is always some-one willing to listen to you. Good luck to Alan and all suffering with this horrible disease.

  14. Darryl Hogan says

    Malcolm fantastic article. Was a true hard man of Aussie Rules. Family was football royalty at Prospect via Barry but brothers were great for the Bays. So happy he didn’t become a stat and fantastic from Scott Hodges and all who supported him. Now he is spreading the word, talk of your feelings and get help !

  15. Malcolm Ashwood
    I learn a lot from your articles.This was a great read.
    Alan was a very skilful footballer.
    He had my great respect as a footballer but didn’t like some the unnecessary stuff he did.
    I had no idea of the depression he suffered and to climb from the depth of despair with his mental illness in 2011 and his recovery now is inspiring.
    Found it interesting how Scott Hodges mental struggles and his recovery and helping Alan get through his battles .
    Remembering the battles and dislike of each other in the 80’s.
    And to be fishing mates now is terrific.

  16. Luke Reynolds says

    Malcolm, well written piece about a very important topic. I’ve read Scott Hodges’ book and it certainly opened my eyes. Being a Victorian I didn’t know of Alan or his story but admire how he is handling everything and wish him well on his journey.

  17. A beautiful read about a huge topic, very thorough and done from the heart. A credit to footy and the broader community!

  18. Great article about a serious subject! A very strong message.

  19. This is a great story about the impact of the “community “of football in Adelaide

  20. Malcolm a terrific article, and so important the message gets out there, wonderful to see 2 guys in Scott and Alan become mates with Scott providing incredible friendship to Alan. Malcolm your articles are really good, I thank you for each and every one of them, if you are to branch to other Sanfl clubs as you have done here, it adds to the Rulebooks huge contribution to a growing fan base. Hats off mate and hope Alan stays on track.

  21. Martin Rumsby says

    Mental health issues can impact on all, including famous and successful individuals. Well done to Alan and others who are prepared to share their stories and to you, Malcolm, for providing access to those stories.

  22. As a young lad I grew up in the confines of Glenelg footy club. I met Alan when he played his first game for the bays in the time ressies. He was the first player to arrive and asked me as a 11 year old to have a kick. Obviously.it was a thrill and a memory but I remember the same bloke every time he saw me walking up tapping me on the head and saying gday for the next few years. Tells you a lot about the guy! Great article book, shows the human side of life after football and how these guys are like every single one of us and have their own demons. The message from this is dont fight it alone, reach out and talk. We arent bullet proof and the mind is a dangerous thing if we leave it to take over . The most courage you will ever show in life is to admit your struggles so please reach out!

  23. Mate
    Yet another wonderful piece. Well done for you and Alan reinforcing the importance of addressing mental health issues and the need for awareness and support from friends and family . With some exceptions— eg the Essendon saga —the sports community seems especially good at helping their own. Cheers

  24. Mark Fitzgerald says

    A great read Malcolm and isn’t it great that a sporting foe from such a big rival club could help Alan.
    Well done Scott Hodges.
    It really shows that you can play hard on the field for your chosen club but at the end of the day your opposition is doing the same. So seeing opposition players unite is fantastic, this has been further highlighted with the recent photo of England and Australian cricketers sharing a beer and having a chat after a long battle.

  25. Robert Bryson says

    Alan like many sports people has suffered depression and the Q fever and loss of health have taken their toll in his life. He is to be commended for his efforts in talking about his struggles and helping others. I hope his experiences assist others in seeking help for their troubles. A well prepared article and thanks for sharing . Cheers Rob.

  26. Thanks Malcolm. Another great piece with an excellent message. Football can do many good things. Surely this is one of the very best.

  27. Mal, Well done yourself for stepping out of our Norwood zone and into the world of opposition players for some other perspectives. To Alan Stringer and Scott Hodges, keep fighting and talking to people and friends for support. I wish you both well.

  28. Brilliant Malcolm one of your best. Need to heed the motto don’t sweat the small stuff persist and persevere

    So true but so easily forgotten in everyday life

  29. Bloody great article Malcolm
    Bravo for shining a light on depression. And to Alan…thank you for being so courageous in speaking out.
    #KeepSwimming

  30. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Alan thank you for being so open and honest discussing what you have been thru and your continuing journey,we have all been brutally reminded that depression isn’t ever truly conquered and the battle continues.Neags yes while the stats are higher male than female, depression and mental health is well and truly both sexes.While as a society we have gotten better at saying we’re not ok and sport has played a major part in helping we still have a long way to go and the macho bullshit element still exists.There are a lot of very important messages contained in the comments thank you to everyone who has commented and shared the article.When Alan and I originally met and the chat and research started to write a article on his career and struggles I was aware of the sensitivity of the subject which have only grown over the past nine days our aim was if we could help,1 person it was well and truly worth it hopefully raising further awareness has occurred thanks folks mental health is a battle we all must continue to fight and help each other

  31. Grenville Dietrich says

    Huge respect Alby for talking up about such a subject and well done for doing an article on the subject as well Mal. Very good footballer and had some great times at the Roosters back in the early 80’s with a great mob of lads…..Cheers GD

  32. The motto of “Don’t sweat the small stuff and Persist, Perservre” is one many of us may take for granted in life however many who I have met suffering through illnesses such as depression seem to have a hard time recognising the small stuff as just that then from there the perseverance level can really drop away. It seems to be in this area that we as family and friends of those who may be struggling can help to lend our support. Even if it’s just listening through the problems as they arise then perhaps offer another perspective and lend support with any persistence required. Thanks for the article again,Malcolm and good on people like Alan and Scott bringing their private lives to public attention in the hopes of saving others from such a horrible disease

  33. Michael Aish says

    Great read Malcolm. Wonderful to see Alan back up and running . Can I pose a question to everyone. Are other people’s lives better off because you lived? Did you make a difference and did you do it for the right reasons? In other words just love them. Alan was a tough competitor and may have crossed the line a few times but haven’t we all. At the end of the day what’s most important in our world. Each other.

  34. Malcolm such an important topic and also a very hidden problem throughout society. Male identities and roles in society are very important things. The more it is discussed the more comfortable hopefully people are with seeking help. There are far more important things in life than footy but it is a sport ( I think more than most) whose networks and communities can really reach out and help people
    Footy clubs are a powerful part of the fabric of country SA. Just don’t take too seriously what happens on the field once you are off of it.

  35. Very inspirational read Malcolm and great to see Alan coming good.Also loved Michael Aish’s comments regarding crossing the line. All of us have done so at times. Mrs Fisho and I know all about looking after each other. Wise words indeed Michael.

  36. Leon Minervini says

    Malcolm it’s funny this is happening to a lot of x-footballers. I watched a true movie the other night about NFL players set in the 90 . After they retired and got older they found a lot of players ended up with depression, anxiety and no motivation .These x-players didn’t want to be around people and felt the world was closing in on them.Then some started committing suicide and they couldn’t understand why these well know players from different teams were doing this . So they started treating players with this condition and linked it with all the hard knocks over the years damaged a part of the brain which causes all these symptoms.
    This could be happening in our own back yard and we we got no idea.
    Cheers Minna’s

  37. Gordon Oliver says

    Malcolm wow just blows the mind away,when you realize the struggles that true champions go through,just because they are playing at the top level in any sport doesn’t mean they are invincible, my heart goes out, a great write up mate.

  38. Another good read. Everything has been said in the comments if others. Well done.

  39. Great read Rulebook. There is always value in hearing these type of stories. Alan’s message should be widely spoken about to all ages. Thanks for sharing.

  40. Willow Wilson says

    Well done Book, the more that we read and hear about people struggling with depression (and other mental illnesses) the more likely we (society) are able to help out, lets hope so anyway. The reality seems somehow more brutal when the person struggling is successful and high profile.
    Thank you to Alan for being brave enough to have his story told and well done to Scott Hodges for providing support.

  41. If a strongman like Alan Stringer can be felled by depression it illustrates that nobody is immune. A more insidious & debilitating illness would be hard to find because it attacks your very essence. Great article mate.

  42. Great read as always Book.

  43. Matt Huppatz says

    Another fantastic read Rulebook. This article has resonated me to thinking I am not the only one with depression issues. I can totally relate, and I think I might have to read Scott Hodges book. (Not sure where to get hold of?) It is a relief in a way, sounds horrible, that I am suffering same sort of issues. I heard Corne’s interview with him as well, and hit some heart strings. It is one thing that might get me off my arse to help myself. Thank you.

  44. Malcolm I feel touched by this post, as usual well written yet again…but what you managed to capture is the journey from the initial cold hard and dark silence lifting, most are silent first up, then awakens into clutching at support to open discussion for the identification of and enabling to manage the condition. I will get my husband to read this, it would do good to not keep stuff inwards and the feeling of loneliness even when you’re surrounded by mates. Alan is great bloke and thank you Alan for allowing Malcolm to interview you…Alan you are not alone, by this you are teaching people to reach out. xxx

  45. Malcolm we are all one emotional life event away from this situation. the more freely talked about the better for everyone, i suspect many silent people could change mindset after reading this story. If you’re reading this and feel you experience this, please reach out to anyone who listens. most will guide and help when those waves of thoughts creep into the mind.

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