Noongar man and Melbourne Demons AFL footballer Jeff Garlett joined The Marngook Football Show live on NITV on Thursday night and spoke about his relationship with former teammate Chris Yarran, and his career-best form at the Demons.
Garlett has kicked 38 goals from his 19 games at Melbourne this season and is considered a strong chance to be named in the All Australian squad at season’s end.
The 28-year-old was traded from Carlton at the end of 2014, and spoke on Thursday night about the brotherhood he formed at the Blues with his fellow Aboriginal footballers, including Yarran and now Adelaide Crows player Eddie Betts.
Yarran featured in headlines earlier on Thursday because of a video that surfaced in which he spoke about his battles with using methamphetamines, an addiction to ice that ruined his AFL career while he was at Richmond, along with his recovery after focusing on his religious beliefs.
“Very proud of him. To have that effort and courage to come out and talk about all the problems is an amazing effort. Not many people would ever do that,” Garlett said of Yarran.
“Very proud of him. To have that effort and courage to come out and talk about all the problems is an amazing effort. Not many people would ever do that."
“Very open, it’s what you want. If you stick everything in, it’s not going to eat you up inside and to talk about it to everyone, to get it out there is an amazing effort.
“It’s pretty unfortunate that he went down that path but we can be there to support him and help him keep going forward now and what’s happened in the past is in the past, all we can do is move forward.”
Garlett said he keeps in regular contact with his former Carlton teammates, such as Yarran and Betts.
He hailed Betts for the influence he had on helping him and other Indigenous players settle into life on an AFL list and away from their communities.
“It was very hard. Coming from WA, you’re a long way from home” Garlett said of first moving to Melbourne.
“Coming over here was hard, but I was lucky enough to have Eddie, Chris and a few other boys that were from Perth and Swan Districts.
“Coming over to play with Carlton, I was lucky enough to have them there with the support.”
Garlett is in career-best form with Melbourne this season and said he’s in the best shape he’s been in in his nine years playing in the AFL.
He says the success is something he doesn’t take for granted, as Melbourne prepares for its run towards the AFL finals.
“Definitely I’m proud,” he said of his achievements. “I play for my family and my son as well. Play for all my mob back home. To get where I am now is an amazing effort and I wouldn’t be here without my family and for my own heart as well.”
Also joining the panel on Thursday was former Fremantle and now Gold Coast midfielder Michael Barlow.
Marngrook host Gilbert McAdam asked him how he’s found being on the Gold Coast, where Australian Rules football isn’t a priority for the majority of the population, as opposed to Perth where there is always a spotlight on the happenings of the Dockers and West Coast Eagles.
“I felt probably this time last year I wasn’t enjoying being an AFL footballer at all,” Barlow said.
“Probably, I was coming towards the end of my time at Fremantle and I probably begrudged it a bit that I still had a lot of football left.
“And to get away and to get to a new environment has been fantastic, for me I’ve loved the change. Obviously a bit more on-field success would be nice but that’s on its way.”
One of the guest panellists on Thursday, Footscray Bulldogs legend Doug Hawkins, asked Barlow if he thought he was ever going to get his opportunity on the game’s biggest stage, given he was initially overlooked as a teenager.
“I probably had doubts, yeah, I’d been through four drafts,” Barlow said.
“Spoke to a lot of teams and the knock on me was my speed or lack of, and probably the ball use and decision making.
“And I still have no speed and I still can’t kick so I’ve fooled them all for 138 games and hopefully for a few more.”
Barlow also offered an interesting insight into his opinion of the mindset at Fremantle, having been delisted from the club last year.
“Essentially, Fremantle, I’d say, they’re looking to be competitive and win premierships but probably the list management and the coaching staff probably don’t see that as achievable in the next two or three years,” he said.
“I’m just probably speaking honestly about their position, probably those players who play there wouldn’t like to hear that, obviously, who I’m close with a few of them.”
Also on the Marngrook Footy Show, live on NITV on Thursday night, where AFLW premiership winner Abbey Holmes, Robert Walls, Shelley Ware, Leila Gurruwiwi and Rohan Connolly.
For more football news and to be a part of the conversation, head to The Marngrook Footy Show’s Facebook and Twitter pages, or watch Thursday’s episode in full On Demand catch up service.
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