• Nathan Lovett-Murray (Getty Images AsiaPac)Source: Getty Images AsiaPac
Appearing on The Marngrook Footy Show’s 10th anniversary special, former Essendon player Nathan Lovett-Murray says the effect the AFL club’s doping scandal has had on the Indigenous community is overlooked.
Will Davies

The Marngrook Footy Show
23 Jun 2017 - 3:37 PM  UPDATED 23 Jun 2017 - 3:37 PM

The special bond Aboriginal footballers form at AFL clubs and the tight-knit nature of their relationships has heightened the impact of Essendon’s drugs saga on Indigenous Australians.

That’s the view of former Bombers player Nathan Lovett-Murray, who says a lot of people don’t understand the impact the doping scandal has had on Aboriginal players and their families.

Speaking on NITV’s The Marngrook Footy Show’s 10th anniversary special, the now 34-year-old said he treasured the connection he had and still has with his Indigenous colleagues.

“Just really proud of those guys,”

“Definitely keep in touch with Paddy Ryder, Alwyn Davey and Leroy Jetta - we were really close in our time at Essendon,” Lovett-Murray said.

“Paddy Ryder (now at Port Adelaide), I’ll give a shout out to him, he’s playing his 200th game this week.

“I remember when he first moved over, he came and stayed with me and we looked after him.

“Those guys were like my little brothers and I remember when I first went to the club, Dean Rioli was like my big brother and so on. So to sort of see those guys doing really well, I think Alwyn’s coaching at Palmerston (in the NTFL).

“Just really proud of those guys,” he reflected.

Lovett-Murray is seeking damages from Essendon over fears his daughter’s health problems have been caused by supplements he was given while at the club.

“It’s been tough the last couple of years but I’ve had really good family support and I guess being up in Shepparton and Uncle Paul up there has been really supportive,” he said.

“Hopefully we can work it out with the football club and I’ve got to think about my family and how that’s going to impact them as well.

“We are going through mediation and hopefully we can work it out and not have to go into the courts.”

It was also the sense of brotherhood between Lovett-Murray and his younger Aboriginal teammates that continued to hurt the 145-game AFL player.

“I guess going back to the issues that we went through with the Essendon drugs saga, because I was the big brother to those younger guys and sort of led them down that track … that’s something that really sort of ate at me a lot because I was the older one there and sort of went through that,” he said.

“And talking to those guys and how it’s impacting them now and that’s something the club needs to understand: for Aboriginal people, we’re a close-knit group and this has really impacted us personally.

“But also our families and our communities so hopefully the club can really look at that and think about that.”

Thursday night’s Marngrook Footy Show was a special 10th anniversary episode, celebrating a decade of informing and entertaining the football and general sporting public.

“But you really made us feel comfortable for young Indigenous players, not having much media skills, but to be able to come on here and you taught us a lot and you opened up a lot of pathways into the media for AFL Indigenous players.”

Lovett-Murray was the show’s first ever guest and 10 years later, admitted to still feeling the heat.

“I remember coming on the first time and just being really nervous, a little bit nervous now at the moment,” he said.

“But you really made us feel comfortable for young Indigenous players, not having much media skills, but to be able to come on here and you taught us a lot and you opened up a lot of pathways into the media for AFL Indigenous players.”

He also reflected on his pride at the how the profile of the AFL’s Indigenous Round, now the Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round, continues to grow.

“I remember playing in my first Indigenous round (and) Dreamtime game, and it was probably one of the highlights of my football career, being involved in that,” Lovett-Murray said.

“They would give free tickets to all the mob and I’d have all my cousins and aunties and uncles at home,” he said.

“What’s the most tickets you’ve had to give to family? 30, or 70?” Marngrook host Gilbert McAdam asked.

“Nah I had a hundred tickets one year,” Lovett-Murray revealed to generous applause from the studio audience.

“To have the round named after my great grandfather, pastor Sir Doug Nicholls, it’s been a huge honour and the family’s really proud of that.”

Lovett-Murray still plays as part of his coaching role for the Rumbalara Football and Netball Club in Shepparton, has been working with Richmond’s Next Generation Academy and has aspirations to keep progressing to higher levels with his coaching.

To catch-up on The Marngrook Footy Show, head the on demand service here.