Almanac People: Jake King – Mates Are Mates

There are many responsibilities that come with being a professional footballer.

Players are lectured as soon as they enter the AFL system about the importance of representing your club and maintaining a squeaky-clean image, at least in the public eye.

But where is the line drawn? Should clubs be able to cast judgement on the people you choose to associate with in your spare time?

Without trying to sound philosophical, friendship is often a complex partnership made up of a mutual affection between people.

All of us that are lucky enough to have friends know that they can come from different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds with varying past experiences in life, some good, and some bad.

Due to the heightened media attention the game now receives and the increasingly politically correct world we are becoming accustomed to, associations between footballers and so-called ‘colourful characters’ are certainly frowned upon.

Perhaps most topical is the friendship between former Richmond player Jake King and bikie Toby Mitchell.

King passionately defended his relationship with Mitchell on Fox’s Open Mike programme, which was aired earlier this week.

“He is a good friend of mine. I don’t care what other people’s opinions are become, to me, he is a mate. I class my friends as my family.” Said the former Tiger.

I have never met Jake King but mutual friends have told me that he is a top bloke and the kind of guy that is very loyal to his mates.

King is not alone in being criticised for his association with gangland figures.

Wayne Carey had a friendship, and even gave character evidence in court for, the now deceased Jason Moran from the notorious underworld family and champion Collingwood player Dane Swan has also had relations with Mick Gatto.

King stressed that his friendship with Mitchell had never got him into any trouble and that he felt he was not a bad influence on him in any way.

I imagine football is stressful enough as it is without having to worry about which people you spend time with away from your requirements at the club.

But while I don’t think anyone can judge King for who his friends are, football clubs or governing bodies are within their rights to discourage certain individuals from being on their premises.

Of course if a notorious gangland figure is seen in the change rooms the media will blow it up into a back page lead story.

The AFL and football clubs have a right to protect their image, so I do understand the furore from their point of view.

It is just a shame that Jake King’s reputation as a person has taken a hit due to his association with certain people.

Let’s not forget that this is a man that changed the life of a seriously ill child named Nate Anderson in 2014.

King befriended the young Tigers supporter and went above and beyond what most footballers do for unwell children.


About Jackson Clark

Born and bred in Darwin, Northern Territory, I am a young, aspiring football writer that lives and breathes the game of Australian Football. I'm also a keen player and coach.


  1. Stainless says

    I watched the “Open Mike” program too and I was impressed with Jake’s simple, straight-up attitude to life and people. His comments in defence of his friendship with Toby Mitchell were a tad simplistic (people like Jake will usually struggle with the subtleties of concepts like “bringing the game into disrepute”), but his honesty was refreshing and a fantastic antidote to the mealy-mouthed weasel words that proliferate in professional sport.
    I also liked the way he took Sheahan to task about his uninformed characterization of Dustin Martin. “I hate the word ‘perception'”.
    It’s easy to see why he was such a cult hero at Richmond.

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