crio’s Q: Sporting careers cut short?

Lenny Hayes played a milestone game this weekend. He is a linchpin in the side. One of the most highly regarded players in the AFL. He’s also just back from a second re-co.
I remember my old man saying that he did a cartilage and that was it.
Some blokes are doomed. Others make incredible recoveries.
All sports have stories of careers cut short whilst there are plenty of examples of players who come back from the brink.
Who springs to mind?


  1. Neil Daniher is the obvious one. Coulda been a contender…..

  2. Max Rooke. Hard to say a two time flag winner was cruelled but 135 games?! Did he do the best he could have or was there more in him?

  3. Budge, Darren Jolly disagrees. That’s the thing – Daniher works hard to give his players the best, one upstart says, he’s no good, another coach was better. I love how his captain, Neitz, said: You’d think after two flags you’d get over it.

  4. Cookie, What are you on?? I’m not talking about him as a coach but as a player. He was going to be a dead set superstar but 3 recos crueled him. I think he played 99 games in about 10 years.
    Apparently he was a crap coach. Long list of them at the Dees…..

  5. I thought footyheads would jump at Greening being the obvious one cut in his prime.

    Using the Lenny Hayes model – Libba’s recovery from his “knee” was incredible.

  6. I was, with Hayes’ inspiration in mind, mostly interested in players who had overcome setbacks to return – with varying degrees of success – to the sporting field.

    D.K.Lillee, for example.

  7. Paul Salmon, while never the same player, continued on for many years at a high level.
    Greening was going to be a superstar until struck down by a mongrel Saint.

  8. Peter Hudson kept breaking down and returning but only ever played something like 130 games.

  9. Nick Riewoldt has come back from a hamstring, and is playing better. Didn’t he have something done to his bung knee as well at the end of 2011?. Darryl Baldock led the Saints with a completely stuffed knee, winning them the Grand Final even through his injury. He kept playing, and did well back in Tassie as well, leading his team to three finals wins. Sorry, I really only know about St.Kilda champions.

    ( but, of course….)

  10. John Coleman

  11. Lance Armstrong

  12. Lord Bogan says

    Crio, this one from left field, but Jelena Dokic’s effort in the OZ open in 2009 was sensational, considering all she had been through. Ditto Jennifer Capriati who could have easily gone right off the rails.

  13. Dave Nadel says

    The reason no-one mentioned Johnny Greening was that all the others that you could mention, from John Coleman to Neale Daniher, were players whose careers were tragically cut short by bad luck. Greening’s career was destroyed by an unspeakable thug who attacked him behind the play and who should have been driven from the game. Instead, St Kilda, to its great shame, made the thug a life member.

  14. Stephinboots says

    John Coleman. Grew up with accounts of his wondrous footy from my Pa, and of the way he was adored, and every telling ended with regret for the career he never went on to have. Who else had built such an enduring reputation on less than 100 games?

  15. pamela sherpa says

    Neale Daniher was a brilliant player. I’m glad I actually saw him play.Tragic luck that he did his knee.

    Coleman of course- who I didn’t see. Those who did can savour the memories

  16. As a celebration of Hayes’ return and milestone, I’d intended this thread to highlight successes…..
    nevertheless, if we are heading down the “cut in his prime” path, Archie Jackson must figure prominently. Said to rival Bradman, he died of TB aged just 23.

  17. Phil Carman? Never the same after his ‘interstate game’ injury. Had some unbelievable moments and games before it.

    More and more players seem to get back from previously career-ending injuries (Roughhead and any number of knee reconstrucions) so I reckon we should be careful not to overplay that aspect of Lenny’s greatness. He’s a champion – no need to gild the lily. I think it reflects more on medical science than any aspect of a player’s personality.

  18. Egan, Geelong.

    Named as an All Australian and did not play again due to a chronic (proper use of the word chronic, not a Gen. X interpretation) and missed out on three, possibly four if he had played in 2008, COME IN RICK) flags.

  19. Pieman, I agree with you, which is why I made the point that in past days a cartilage could be career ending.
    Alas, for Neil Sachse there was no medical miracle.

  20. Paul Lynch for Geelong, with his chronic hammy problems effectively stifled what could have been a promising career.


  21. Tulloch’s comeback must have been “special”!

  22. Jeff Dowsing says

    Lee Walker woulda been a star if not for 3 knee recos. Almost 200cm yet could play on a wing. Every time he strung a few games together calamity would strike. Mind you he tended to play in a way that opened him up to getting injured. Only played 16 games, the Pies persevered as long as they could.

    Sean Rusling was another in a similar vein, his weak spot being his shoulders.

  23. Dave Nadel says

    Collingwood has had a string of them. Brad Dick, who has now been rookied by The Weagles, was another. Every time that he managed to be fit enough to play he looked like the next Leon Davis and then he would be injured again. The fact that he was very skinny probably didn’t help.

  24. Peter Flynn says

    Busby’s Babes

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