Ahead of Adelaide’s marquee Friday night clash against Essendon, former Crows ruckman Sam Jacobs looks back on his career and reflects on the lessons he learned throughout his football career.
Words from Sam Jacobs
I wasn’t drafted in the national draft originally, I was rookie listed instead.
The draft was on a Saturday back then and not long after I missed out on the national draft I got a call from North Melbourne to go over there and train for two weeks.
I was living with (former Kangaroo) Corey Jones while I was training with the Kangaroos and he called me on the day of the rookie draft and said, ‘Congratulations, you’ve made it in the blue and white’.
At that stage, I was pretty happy that I was going to stay at the Kangaroos.
But I didn’t actually know that he meant the navy blue and white and that I was going to be a Carlton player.
I didn’t really know anyone when I first arrived at the Blues, but I lived with Shaun Grigg and Michael Jamison and our house pretty much became the drop in center for all the young draftees.
It was a big eye opener being in Melbourne for those first couple of years and I battled some home sickness.
I didn’t manage to play a game in my first two years, but I was very fortunate that I had ‘Teaguey’ (David Teague) as my coach in the VFL and my mentor in the early days.
The biggest thing in my time at Carlton was to be able to debut in round one, 2009 against Richmond in front of 87,000 people at the MCG.
For a kid from a small town country town to be able to do that was a pretty big accomplishment.
After four years at Carlton, I pretty much felt like I had served my footy apprenticeship and I was ready to become a starter for a team.
My opportunities were limited at the Blues and it was always going to be tough with Matthew Kreuzer, Robert Warnock and Shaun Hampson fighting it out for a spot.
The opportunity to go home and play in front of friends and family every weekend and play for the Adelaide Crows was always something I dreamt of but, when it became reality, it was something that was too good to refuse.
To move home was really special.
I loved my time at the Crows. I didn’t miss many games. I wouldn’t miss any sessions. I think I missed two games in eight years, so I did have a pretty good run with injury and I was proud that I was able to be as durable as I was.
The 2015 elimination final win over the Western Bulldogs was a great moment for us as a group especially after losing Walshy (coach Phil Walsh) in tragic circumstances earlier in the year as well.
Walshy was someone who, in a short space of time, made a big impact on our club and I will never forget what he did for our group in the nine months he was there.
Although many people look back on the Grand Final loss to Richmond in 2017 as a bad memory, I still look back on it as a special time in my life as I managed to reach the pinnacle of my sport.
Two weeks before the Grand Final, my brother Aaron passed away.
I was never going to miss that final against Greater Western Sydney and I dedicated that game and my performance to my brother.
I actually felt like I played really well through that finals series, so to be able to deal with that personal tragedy after I lost Aaron and then perform on the field is something I’m really proud of being able to do.
I also lost my wife Isabelle’s father, Mark, to cancer in March earlier that year as well, so it was a tough year on a personal front.
The one thing I love about the footy industry, whether it’s the Crows or the AFL Players’ Association or the AFL, there’s just so much support around you.
If there’s ever an environment to thrive in after person tragedy I think it’s a footy club and the footy industry as a whole.
Being from SA, I understood how big the Crows versus Power rivalry was and the state’s microscopic focus on the games.
Through that period of Showdown match-ups I was just so confident in my game because I knew that I’d done the work and that gives you confidence to go out there and play well.
I thrived on the responsibility of being the main ruckman and having an impact on centre bounces and the rest of the midfield, and I received some great support from Kurt Tippett and Josh Jenkins through my career at the Crows.
By the end of my time at Adelaide, Reilly O’Brien was really starting to come on and it was important that he got the same opportunities that I did.
The chance to go to the GWS Giants was borne out of that and the decision to move to Sydney was about a new experience for our family.
Even though I was only there for one season, it gave me a chance to develop as a person and meet some really great people who I can call friends for life.
Looking back on my time in the game, two lessons really stand out for me: taking control of your career is vitally important and hard work builds confidence.
When your career is all finished the only person you can look back at to determine whether your career’s panned out the way you’ve wanted it to is you and you’ve got to own it.
I was lucky to play with some stars of the game including Anthony Koutoufides, Brendan Fevola, Chris Judd, Patrick Dangerfield, Scott Thompson, Rory Sloane, Phil Davis and Josh Kelly.
I also had some great support in a footy sense from David Teague and (Adelaide ruck coach) Matthew Clarke, as well as my family – my wife Isabelle and her family, my daughter Imogen and my Mum and Dad, John and Corry.
My daughter Alba was born at the end of the 2020 season and she’s also been a big part of my transition out of the game.
I’ve always seen myself as just a country boy who’s been able to live out his dream and now I’ve finished up I can go back home and reconnect with my friends and my local community in Yorke Penninsula and play footy at home at Ardrossan.