Jason Winderlich’s footy career has had a bit of John Farnham about it – every time it’s looked to be over, he’s come roaring back.
“I’ll cop a flogging on the Friday and hopefully come in for the Hawthorn game after the bye” – Winderlich
“Three times throughout my career I’ve been told I’m never going to play again,” Winderlich told 1116 SEN’s Morning Glory program on Friday morning.
It looked as though the farewell tour was finally coming to an end last year when Winderlich announced his retirement in August, amidst arguably the best form of his career. Two months later, he decided he’d go around one more time.
When the 30-year-old broke down with yet another back injury earlier this year, many wondered whether he’d played his last game for the Bombers. But, thankfully, it seems that’s not the case. After playing three quarters in the VFL last weekend, the 30-year-old is setting his sights on a senior return.
“This week I’ll play a normal game [in the VFL], just one rest per quarter and have the bye the week after. I’ll cop a flogging on the Friday and hopefully come in for the Hawthorn game after the bye.”
Winderlich is excited about the prospect of returning to the AFL, but admits he wondered whether the decision to play on was the right one after a ruptured disc left him bed-ridden for a month in January.
“As soon as I got a sore back again I was like, jeez, what have I done? That was the whole reason I didn’t want to put my body through it again. I obviously had two back operations when I was only 22 or 23 and I know I’m always going to have a bad back for the rest of my life, but it’s more just quality of living.
“I’ve had a knee reconstruction as well, but there’s nothing worse than back pain, because it almost paralyses you at home” – Winderlich
“I actually injured my back again right around the time when we had our second daughter, so I could only stand up and hold her for two minutes before it felt like I was going to have a massive back spasm. That’s the stuff that bothers me the most – the quality of living.”
Though he’s preparing to play AFL in a fortnight, Winderlich is reminded every day of the toll his injuries have had on his body.
“I drive a manual, and get referred pain all the way down my left leg, which I’ve had for eight years. When I push the clutch in, I get like a short little stabbing pain in my lower back.
“I’ve had a knee reconstruction as well, but there’s nothing worse than back pain, because it almost paralyses you at home.”
Amazingly, for now at least, Winderlich is still going.
“We’ve got a straight leg-raise [at Essendon] where they test your hammys about 30 degrees off the bench, which Reidy [Dr Bruce Reid] always laughs about. He doesn’t understand how I’ve been able to keep playing.”