Gracefully or Disgracefully?

What is the best way to bow out of football? Should we retire gracefully; on the decline but enough in the tank to get a kick? Or do we go disgracefully; slow, sore, stat-less and angry?

If I do it now and abort my attempt at the 2015 season, I’ll be the former. If I go on in my current state, I risk being the latter.

It’s the one aspect of the game that seldom spoken of and you are certainly never taught the right way to exit the game.

At 32 I’m at a crossroad. Thirty-two is still young enough when you’re a star, however it’s old when you’ve been battling the odds since you began, like I have.

I always figured that in my early to mid 20s I’d keep playing till I was 40, always get a kick, always be one of the boys, and never give it away. Football is so much fun, especially when you don’t have to deal with grown up issues like mortgages and you work in 9-5 entry-level jobs.

Today work takes me all over the country, I seldom train, half my mates have retired, the dominant age group of 18-25 year olds aren’t as funny as we were at the same age, after the game on a Saturday the last thing on my mind is kicking on at a nightclub (six beers at the club watching the Saturday night game is enough excitement for me nowadays…) Gee the young fellas were right, I do sound old!

In fact last season was the first time in my life I was the oldest player on a footy field. Didn’t happen every game but happened twice. It only felt like the other day I was the youngest.

The wise old heads back in 2001 weren’t lying when they told me it goes by so quick.

While I feel like a relic ready to be upgraded by a younger, better footballer who can play my position better than I, playing footy still does make me feel young when I’m associating with others that don’t play the game.

While I’m in the bottom quartile in fitness at the club, I’m in the top quartile in the office.

While I’m 10kg overweight on the track, I’m in peak condition in the office compared to my fellow desk jockeys.

While my language doesn’t raise eyebrows in the change rooms, it certainly raises eyebrows in mainstream society.

Football makes me feel old when I’m on the field, but makes me feel young everywhere else. I think that’s why I keep doing it.

I was once told by an ex-teammate who is almost a decade older than me, retire disgracefully, not gracefully. His reasoning was interesting if not orthodox.

You see, the bloke who retires gracefully will find himself several years later stuffing his face with a snag and VB at the club, lamenting the standard of ressies football and trick himself into thinking that he can still do it, come out of retirement and do some serious damage… to himself, not to the scoreboard!

However, the bloke who retires disgracefully, angry, frustrated, pitied by all those around him, will be having that beer and snag lamenting the ressies with the bloke who retired gracefully, but won’t kid himself into that comeback because he remembers he had to be shoved, because he refused to jump, saving himself the embarrassment of a blown out hamstring.

So based on that logic I’ve decided to retire disgracefully. Bring on 2015.

Comments

  1. Jared

    Well done, I am all for the disgracefully line. Whenever you finish, you are out of the game and off the track a long time, so good to hear you are thumbing your nose at what you should do and doing what you want to do.

    Good thing is that the older you get, the harder time you can give the younger ones if they can’t keep up with you or run out the game as well

    Sean

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