The Retirements Appeals Tribunal (RAT’s applicants required)

At the end of the year at least four Essendon and former Essendon footballers over the age of twenty eight years will endeavour to make comebacks after a year out of the game.

They need to be saved from themselves.

Sport is littered with failed comebacks.

At the international level you only have to think of the likes of Michael Jordan, Bjorn Borg, Michael Spitz, Ben Jonson, to name a few. The elite are not immune, indeed they are often the problem.

It must be said, Australia bats amongst the best. On the world stage in recent times we boast the great Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett.

There are candidates in every sport.

Cricket, think Dennis Lillie and Tasmania (first ball excepted).

Soccer has Harry Kewell, and he has company.

It goes without saying that every boxer retires at least twice, with Danny Green being club house leader having retired seven times at last count. Throw in legends like Kosta Tszyu (threatened), Jeff Fenech and Aussie Joe Bugner, it is sport that is an industry leader.

The AFL can point to the likes of Tony Lockett. The surprise in his case being that he didn’t appear particularly interested in his prime, so it didn’t occur to most pundits that he would leave the greyhound breeding industry to return to the field. Of course it was a mistake. Just as Mitchell Clarke was a mistake, Peter Hudson was a mistake, and Stewie Dew a ……okay, Stewie was an exception.

The return from retirement should not be a decision left to the individual concerned. They had their careers. We, the punters have committed them to memory. We bought the memorabilia in the expectation it would be worth something on fleabay. We respectfully clapped during the lap of the oval whilst the montage of highlights was shown on the screen to a backdrop of “The wind beneath my wings”. That is despite years of detesting them.

When the come back inevitably fails, it is the public that suffers. Our lasting memories are tarnished. It is selfish. The decision must be taken out of their hands.

And whilst it is acknowledged that some comebacks can succeed, it must also be recognised this is a rare thing. Indeed, the decision to allow them to resume their career should only be where the player can demonstrate “exceptional circumstances”. There is a need to set the bar very high.

The question is, who is to undertake the critical assessment and what are the factors to be considered.

The retirement comeback indicia must at least include:

– The review of the career and to quantify the reputation and legacy. The more famous, then the less likely a return will be approved

– The age of retirement and period of delay before the threatened resumption. There is to be a five year statutory maximum period after which any retirement attempt is considered a criminal offence.

– The likelihood of success. The starting point being “remote”

– Reasons for retirement in the first place. If it was to “spend more time with the family” then clearly the retirement was ill conceived whereas “my body would not allow me to compete at the requisite level” is a warning that ought not be ignored.

– The impact on the memorabilia market is not to be under estimated.

– The inability to adjust to a “normal” life as supported by an appropriate psychologists certificate, loss of all savings within the first year of retirement or the patently obvious deficiencies as a special comments commentator are deemed relevant factors in favour of a revival of the career – after all it is a balancing exercise.

All such items are appropriately weighted in a formula devised by Duckworth Lewis, so it will be obviously well received and unimpeachable.

Who then is to constitute the Tribunal. That is, who is to constitute the Retirement Appeals Tribunal otherwise known as the RAT’s.

Clearly RAT’s members are to be selected for their knowledge and experience in futile comebacks.

To date the professional RAT’s will include:

– The Chairman, Kevin Rudd

– Jana Pitman, with expertise in multiple disciplines and sports

– Michael Klim, for the PR aspects of a potential return

– John Farnham. Obvious.

– Lleyton Hewitt to particularly deal with retirements of less than two weeks.

– Shane Warne had been approached but declined on the basis he has not yet retired.

Like all new age tribunals (and good reality television shows bearing in mind this tribunal will be televised), we now seek applications from the Almanac community to be sessional members of the Tribunal.

You will need to submit a short submission regarding your experience in respect of a failed comeback. A resumption which which resulted in major surgery within weeks would be considered a major advantage.

If selected you will be asked to rule on pending applications before the tribunal including:

– Michael Clarke
– Ash Barty, &
– Mick Malthouse

It is a responsible and challenging role. Actually without seeking to pre-judge matters, only the Barty application has any degree of difficulty.

Love to know if you interested in the role. Please submit your CV’s In the “comments” column. Await your applications.

Regards da mcdonell.

About da mcdonell

Established "dam Sports Crisis Managment" to salvage & reinvigorate flagging careers of elite athletes. In practice mentoring rather than coaching or managing in the traditional sense. In the Almanac, we focus on the AFL players of the "dam AFL sports team"


  1. Shane Backx says

    Hudsons comeback a failure and a mistake???? 8 in that memorable 1973 game at VFL Park and 110 for the season in 1977. I’d like to fail like that!!

  2. Surely there’s an advisory/mentoring role for Athol Guy and Judith Durham at the R.A.T?

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