Alumni Default

Knowing when to retire is never an easy decision

Kane Cornes made an extremely brave decision to retire this week.

Port Adelaide might have had a bit of a rough start to the year but the premiership window is open and that’s what every player plays for. So to pull the pin while he’s still being selected and doing his job is a really brave decision — and probably one most footballers wouldn’t make.

Kane has a young family and wants to make sure he’s got another career after football. The opportunity is there to work as a fireman and if he wants the job he needs to start straight away. But it’s still not an easy call.

I knew the end to my career was coming for a long time but it’s hard to make the decision.

I ripped my hamstring off the bone in round six, 2009, up in Sydney. I had the hamstring tendon operation and was out for most of that year but I was desperate to get back and play a couple of games at the end of the year.

I played a game for Coburg late in the year and re-injured the hamstring again and I knew then I was probably done and dusted but it still took me a while to accept it.

At the end of the season Damien Hardwick came in and took over and he said he’d give me the chance to get it right but after about two weeks of preseason training under him I knew it wasn’t going to come up and I made the decision to move on. I remember making the phone call to my manager and then telling Damien. I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders.

AFL 2010 Rd 01 - Richmond v Carlton

It would have been nice to finish out on the field with the seniors but it doesn’t worry me that much now. Round one the next year I got to go out and say goodbye to the Richmond supporters which was pretty important after 17 years. And I did get to make the call myself which not many players get to do.

It’s something footballers have trouble with — knowing when the end is near and then planning that transition phase into your next job. When you retire there is a massive void. A lot of blokes finish up and think ‘gee, what am I going to do now?’”

When I got injured I knew I was going to be out for pretty much the rest of the year and in the back of my mind I probably knew I’d struggle to go around again the next year.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. I really hadn’t though much about what I’d do. You think you’re invincible and going to keep playing forever. I thought I was still in pretty good form (Editor’s note: Richardson had kicked eight goals and averaged 24 disposals in the first four games of the 2009 season) and then bang I was done in one week.

The only option I really had at that point was trying to do a bit of work in the media. I immediately let my manager know I’d take up any opportunities while I was injured to do some media work. He did a ring around. I did a bit of work on the Footy Show on Channel 9, did special comments for a few games on Channel 10 and also did a guest spot on Monday nights on a show called One Week at a Time with Stephen Quartermain and Robert Walls. I wanted to put myself out there to see if I was any good at it and if I enjoyed it.

AFL 2014 Media - Hall of Fame

As soon as I retired I got phone calls to work in the media so I got stuck straight into that. I didn’t miss the training but once the games started the next year — the first half of that next year you miss playing. But that goes pretty quickly as well.

There’s two parts to retiring — making the call at the right time in terms of your football career and also being fully prepared for your next step. Shane Crawford springs to mind as one example of a fairytale retirement — if you go off with a premiership that’s the perfect way of doing it.

In terms of nailing the transition Benny (Brendon) Gale was the one I always admired. The whole time we were playing together at Richmond he was studying. We used to have a bit of a laugh with him about being a full-time university student but by the time he finished playing he had a couple of degrees — including one in law — and went straight into working at Mallesons, moved to the AFL Players’ Association and now he’s running the club we played for. He just timed it perfectly.

This story was originally published on and can be accessed here.