Alumni Fans

The Lewis ultimatum

After 319 games and 15 seasons at the elite level, retiring utility Jordan Lewis reflects on his career with Hawthorn and Melbourne, presented by Pickstar.

When you come to the end of your career you’ve got to be realistic about where you’re positioned.

You’ve got to ask yourself if you’re past your best and, if you are, then you’ve got to work out how you can influence the side in other ways than what you’re used to.

My role changed a lot when I moved to Melbourne from Hawthorn before the 2017 season and a lot of my energies were directed into an off-field capacity, trying to guide the leadership group and the young kids coming through.

There’s always that thought in your mind that you could go around again, but I think it’s a healthy thing to finish your career on that note rather than hanging on for dear life and ruining the reputation that you’ve built up over 15 years.

I was 30 when I was given the ultimatum by ‘Clarko’ (Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson) to play somewhere else.

I was blindsided no doubt. I’d just come off finishing second in the Hawks’ best and fairest and I still felt like I had some really good football left in me.

I would have been pretty disappointed if I had have stayed at Hawthorn and played one year and then finished my career as a 31-year-old when I knew I had a good three years of football left in me.

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Knowing what I know now, I would still make the same decision to move to the Dees. I made a heap of new friends, I was rejuvenated by a different environment and I enjoyed the challenge. We made a preliminary final and I still feel like I gave them good service, albeit I was only there for a short amount of time.

Despite the difference of opinion, Clarko and my relationship is fine and he and I will be friends for a long time. You can’t wash away 13 years of the great memories based on one tough decision that was made.

The decision that Hawthorn made was to go in another direction. Sometimes clubs can get caught up in the win-loss aspect of things, rather than assessing the culture of the club and how important it is to keep people around to help mature and nurture these other young players coming through.

As a club they wanted to move forward and get players in that they thought were going to help them win their next premiership.

Time will tell whether that’s been a success.

When you look back at the names you’ve played with like Hodgey (Luke Hodge), Mitch (Sam Mitchell), Cyril (Rioli), Bud (Lance Franklin), Shaun Burgoyne and Roughy (Jarryd Roughead), you definitely feel privileged.

We were so fortunate to have the team that we had. When the Hall of Fame comes around and you see guys like Hodgey and Mitch and Bud inducted, I’ll realise how lucky I was to play with those genuine champions of the game.

Clarko pushed pretty hard to ensure we kept the group together and a lot of players made sacrifices, whether that was financial or staying put in the same environment because we really believed in the team that we were part of. With that mindset, you create a culture that underpins all that you stand for.

You can be promised to stand up in the last day in September and until you do you don’t really understand the enormity of what you’ve just achieved.

When you actually remove yourself from that situation you look back and go, ‘Yeah we were quite a successful side.’

Even speaking to some of the Melbourne boys they feared playing against us (the Hawks) because they knew we were so dominant. You don’t necessarily realise that at the time.

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Leaving the game I can leave my head held high; I’ve played it the way I’ve wanted to play it.

Playing a number of different roles throughout my career, I didn’t ever really become stale and I was able to offer the coaching staff at Hawthorn and Melbourne versatility when it was needed.

I’ve always had that ability to play a multitude of roles and even playing up forward later in the 2019 season in that defensive forward role it was quite exciting because you’re playing a cat and mouse game with a defender who wants to be quite offensive and I found that role quite easy to be honest.

I’m a bit of a thinker out on the field and I can manipulate a few players who might not necessarily have the football IQ I had so I enjoyed my last season at the Demons.

I truly believe the Dees can turn things around and I have great confidence in the people working there, the culture, the coaching staff’s philosophies and the motivation of the players.

The players were bitterly disappointed in what happened this season and most sides that we’ve seen over the last 20 years have had some sort of disappointment on the road to being a really good side.

You look at Richmond in 2016. They were 13th on the ladder and you fast forward to now and they have two premierships and multiple premiership players.

It can turn around quickly if the ingredients are there and I really think they’re there at Melbourne. 

I’m going to go into the media next year with Fox Footy and radio station SEN 1116, which provides me the chance to stay connected with the industry but not have to worry about doing the day-to-day stuff that I did when I was a player.

Wine has also been a passion of mine for five or six years now and the company I part-own, DML Wines, is something I love being part of.

Until then I’m pretty much a stay at home Dad until February, looking after my three boys Hugh, Freddie and Ollie, before the season rolls around again and my footy commitments ramp up. 

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