In the wake of the Madden Medal presentation on Thursday, the retiring class of 2019 have put together a letter to their younger selves detailing the lessons they learned during their careers. Over the next week, aflplayers.com.au will publish the letters of these players to help celebrate their achievements. Here is former Saint David Armitage’s letter to his 17-year-old self.
You’re a confident young man from Mackay and after arriving at St Kilda with pick No.9 in the 2006 National Draft you’ll declare to your well-respected teammate, Nick Riewoldt, that you’ll play most games at AFL level in your first season in 2007.
You will end up playing three in your first year – the first of many lessons you’ll learn – and fight to work your way into a midfield consisting of the likes of Lenny Hayes, Luke Ball, Nick Dal Santo, Brendon Goddard and Leigh Montagna.
You have much to learn.
Like when you’re eating chicken schnitzel and chips prior to a training session and you have the senior guys around you going, ‘What are you eating chips for?’
You’ll soon find out just how hard your teammates work to better themselves.
Like when Robert Harvey does three extra sessions on the watt bike on top of everything else he does or the way ‘Rooey’ (Riewoldt) goes about his business.
You have much to learn.
Coach Ross Lyon will be hard on you and your younger teammates, Scott Watters will come and go in a matter of years.
‘Richo’ (Alan Richardson) – meanwhile – will arrive at the right time for you as you find yourself at a bit of a crossroads.
With your club struggling to find its feet, you’ll seriously consider returning to your home state to play your footy in Queensland.
That’s where a heart-to-heart with Richo in Colorado, on a pre-season trip, will help get you back on track and steer your career in the right direction.
Richo will hit you between the eyes and tell you that you have the capability of becoming an A-grade midfielder if you really want to be.
He’ll tell you that he’s heard some things about your off-field behaviour and that you’re not as professional as you need to be.
Richo will draw a line in the sand and tell you you won’t be at St Kilda if you don’t sharpen up for your act.
You’ll instead jump on board and become a leader for your club and produce your best individual season in 2015, where you’ll average a career-high 28 disposals and six clearances.
Injuries will hit you late in your career. It will be frustrating, there’s no sugar coating that fact.
You’ll want to carry the club to success along with a couple of others after being down the bottom of the ladder.
Being in the leadership group and not being able to get out on the park will be hard to deal with.
However, you’ve been blessed that you were in the system for 13 years.
When you take a back seat and you look at what you’ve done in the game, play 169 games and last for 13 years you’ll be proud of what you have achieved.
You were never a superstar of the competition, but you’re pretty glad that you were a one club player and a life member of St Kilda.
What you have learned along the way has helped you mature and become the person you are today and you offer this advice to the young players coming through the system now:
- Don’t take yourself or the game too seriously.
- Work hard but, at the right time, have fun as well.
- If you don’t like golf, surfing or fishing, you need to find something you love outside of the game.
You’ve got to have balance in your life.