Daniel Jackson and Jake King shared the best part of a decade living in each other’s pockets at Punt Road. They were the nearest thing to the AFL’s odd couple.
There’s King, a plumber by trade, who was rookie listed at 23 by Richmond, and went on to become a cult hero for his ability to punch out push-ups and scrap for his footy life.
And Jackson, the model student, polished media performer, a sportsman comfortable and capable of speaking his mind on issues beyond the boundary line.
“Nobody ever understands how the private school kid from Camberwell who went to Melbourne Uni is hanging out with the kid who went to four different schools, from the other side of the tracks, that studied at the ‘university of the street’.” – dan jackson
“Nobody ever understands how the private school kid from Camberwell who went to Melbourne Uni is hanging out with the kid who went to four different schools, from the other side of the tracks, that studied at the ‘university of the street’,” Jackson said this week.
“But we balance out each other’s weaknesses. I am book smart, he is street smart.
“I often do a lot of stupid stuff that nobody picks up on because Jake is there to clean up the mess.”
Jackson, somewhat surprisingly, followed his great mate into retirement at the end of the 2014 season, before Richmond were bundled out in the first week of the finals by Port Adelaide.
The 2013 Richmond best and fairest battled “wear and tear injuries” – predominantly back and hamstring complaints – at the tailend of a 156-game career.
“I could have kept playing but it wasn’t going to have been at a level I had come to expect of myself.
“I didn’t have the talent to rely on, I had to do the hard work. If you can’t do the hard work then the game will just chew you up.”
King, meanwhile, conceded he was “done”. He pulled the pin midway through 2014 with a chronic toe injury the final straw.
“Jake had to cut a hole in his boot to get out there and kick a footy. As stubborn as he is, he just kept trying, trying to push through,” Jackson said.
King’s 178cm frame is battered. Jackson revealed that his mate sometimes sweats when they wander to their favourite Richmond cafe because the pain associated with his troublesome toe is so severe.
Then there’s a knee reconstruction to be had, as well as a shoulder reconstruction, while a serious operation on his thumb is also required.
“When you finish, you mentally switch off, and you start to feel the ache and pain of it all,” King explained.
“I was done. I don’t want to have all these problems and be stuck on the couch when the kids want to kick the footy. I couldn’t get anything more out.”
While their lives as elite athletes has ended, King and Jackson haven’t piled on the kilograms.
King looks as strong as ever – even more “ripped” than his playing days, according to Jackson.
And they have a daily routine which explains it all. Each morning, seven days a week, the pair meet at a Richmond gym at 9am and train together.
“You could argue we were a couple of the less talented blokes in the AFL but we both played 100 games,” Jackson said.
“We prided ourselves on working hard. I think that’s why we have kept at it. We enjoy being fit. But now it is on our terms.
“Routine and fitness are two things that you become so used to (as an AFL player).
“You come out after 11 years in the system and if I didn’t have that (routine and fitness today) then I would probably go mad.”
“It gets your day going. Once you get up and get to the gym, the day starts,” King added.
“You don’t lie in bed all day. You get up and get into it.”
The daily workouts, however, are over.
“I bounce so much off Daniel and use him for so much advice. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have done or be doing half the things I am” – jake king
Don’t worry, it’s not a Valentine’s Day heartbreaker. Jackson is packing his bags to see more of the world after informing the Players’ Association board this week of his decision to step down.
“I am going to travel through South America, work in North America, hopefully do the same in Europe – you won’t see me for a couple of years.
“I don’t know if I will go to the gym every day but I will go for a run on the beaches of central America after a few too many tacos.”
King said he will miss his great mate, but plans to push on with his regular exercise without him – as well as try his hand at some media in 2015.
“It’s going to be different (not having him around).
“I guess we are complete opposites but, in saying that, we sort of come together to be the perfect one person in a way.
“I bounce so much off Daniel and use him for so much advice. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have done or be doing half the things I am.”