How I hit the 50
The dartboard. Everyone always asks me about the dartboard and that’s fine.
I got diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the end of my second year with the Bulldogs in 2009. When I first got it, they told me I had to inject my insulin around the stomach region. Not to make complete light of the situation with me being diagnosed, but I just wanted to have a little bit of fun with it and let people know that I hadn’t changed too much.
So I ended up getting a dartboard there at one of my injection sites. I might have had a couple of beers when I thought of it. But it always gets a bit of a laugh, especially with the kids.
There are no numbers, but the dartboard has the traditional dartboard colours of red, green and black. I change the location of the needle around a bit. Some days I’ll shoot for triple 20, other days I throw a bullseye. I put it in my quads or glutes as well, it moves around a fair bit.
I ended up getting a tattoo on my wrist as well. You’re meant to wear a wristband as well but the tattoo does the job. I hope I’m never lying in a gutter and someone goes, ‘Oh, he’s got a girlfriend called Diabetes!’
Before my diagnosis, I didn’t really know too much about diabetes. I’d had a groin surgery for osteitis pubis and had a groin reconstruction and was losing a fair bit of weight afterwards and my energy levels weren’t that great. I thought that was part and parcel of having surgery. You lose a bit of muscle mass and all that.
The surgery was at the end of the season. About six weeks later, I had a check-up with the doctors at the club. When I went in, they nearly fell off their chair because they couldn’t believe how skinny I looked. So they sent me for blood tests on the Friday.
I was at home on the Saturday night after that, and my eyes were really blurry. I’d been going out and having a few drinks and that sort of thing because it was the end of the season and after all, I was only 20, but this had nothing to do with that. I rang the doc and he asked if I had a block of chocolate or something. I ate it.
That’s when I sort of realised that there might be something up.
We got the results of the blood tests on Monday. I went in there and it turned out my blood sugar for the last couple of months had been like 45 or something. I should have been in a coma, technically. If I wasn’t playing football and as fit as I was, I would have been.
I was pretty oblivious to the whole thing to be honest. I didn’t know much about diabetes or anything like that.
MY BEST YEAR YET
In my first six years of AFL footy (four at the Bulldogs, two at GWS), I played a total of 24 games.
In 2014, I feared that footy could be over for me through lack of opportunity and the body. I had a year to run on my contract, but decided to go down the coaching path. I worked here at GWS as a development coach during the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
I still thought I could play. I was still training with everyone and had a pretty big focus on getting my body right. It helps when you’ve got a fiancée that’s an osteopath at home. Elissa has been a big influence as well.
In 2016, I was re-drafted in the rookie draft and played six games that season.
A journalist might write that just playing a game and returning to the field was a win for me, but that’s not how I feel. I want to play every week. I say to myself every week that I’ve got goals about staying in there. I don’t want anyone taking my spot, I want to be there.
I should have been in a coma, technically. If I wasn’t playing football and as fit as I was, I would have been.
The last two years I’ve been dropped just before the finals and I’ve missed out when I thought I should be playing. Last year I played 13 straight games, and I just missed out on the finals. It drives me a fair bit for that not to happen. I want to be involved in it, and right at the centre of it.
This year, I’m probably having the best year I’ve ever had and playing the best footy I’ve ever played. I’m getting thrown around a bit positionally. If I need to go forward or back or on the wing, I’m just sort of doing whatever Leon asks me to, and trying to be the most talkative out there.
It was good to finally reach 50 games a few weeks ago, nine years into my career!
I’m not your Josh Kelly with the ball or anything like that, your superstars. But I know my place in the team at the moment. Recently, it’s been going forward and helping the young blokes up there. I think I just know my standing, and I’ve got a lot of confidence in my body at the moment, which is good. I feel like it won’t let me down.
Gees its only taken being drafted 3 times, sacked twice and 9 years but I’m pretty bloody grateful to be where I am and notching up the slowest 50 games in draft history. 🙊😍
As a team, we’re going OK this year. We’ve never really dropped our bundle. We know it’s a long year and I think Richmond last year were five and four after Round 9. We’re currently 6-5-1, so anything can happen from here on in, even if we scrape into the eight like the Bulldogs did two years ago.
In the last two seasons, the teams we’ve lost to in the preliminary final have gone on to win the flag, so you might say you’ve got to beat the Giants to win a flag now!
Apart from the Giants not making last year’s grand final, the worst thing for me personally was that I didn’t get to sing ‘Mr Brightside’ on-stage with The Killers afterwards like Jack Riewoldt did. I love that band!
NEVER FEEL SORRY FOR YOURSELF
I wake up at around 2:30 or 3 o’clock every morning and test my blood to make sure it’s all fine. Every single morning I do that.
I actually drink a lot more than average people, maybe five or six litres or something a day, and obviously a bit more during training. So obviously when I wake up, I go to the toilet!
I have to have four insulin injections a day – three of the fast-release injections with my meals so when you eat it starts to spike, and a slow release at night which I have at about nine o’clock every night.
This is my routine and I hope you understand that I’m not complaining about it. I’m just sharing it with you.
Heaps more people have diabetes now, it’s definitely on the rise. They don’t really know where it comes from or how it happens. But we do know that one possible prevention is the healthy lifestyle. You’ve got to make sure you’re active even if it’s just walking, and you have to get your dosages of fruit and vegetables and stop snacking on stuff with added sugar. Maybe have a banana instead.
I find it really easy to put on weight, and the studies these days show that diabetics take a lot longer to recover. Playing footy you can’t really afford to take longer than others, or you sort of fall behind the eight-ball.
In the two years that I had off in 2014 and 2015, I was really just trying to get my body right. First I cut out dairy and I found that it had a really good effect on the way I could control how I was feeling. Then I cut out all red meat, although every now and then I’ll have lamb – maybe like once a month.
I went full vegan for about a month before I came back this year, which was tough, but then I ran the best 3k time I’d ever run!
WOULD THE REAL SAM REID PLEASE STAND UP
Funny story: I actually got kicked off my seat in a plane once because they mixed me up with the Sam Reid who plays for the Sydney Swans.
It was after a game in Melbourne and I stayed down there for the night so I didn’t travel back with the team. On the way back, I was seated in the exit row seats – and these days if you travel as a team you get all the exit seats. So I was sitting there and then I saw all the Swans boys get on and I was like, ‘Oh, no, I think I’m in the wrong seat here’.
They worked it out and said, ‘Oh, you’ve got the same name as someone else’ and I was like, ‘I know’ and I had to move. It was pretty funny. I’ve only ever met him once actually, the other Sam Reid.
I’ve been asked who is the better Sam Reid. I might give that one to him. I’ve had a more adventurous career but he’s got a premiership and I don’t.
I grew up in Queensland and used to follow the Broncos in the NRL, but I love Greg Inglis so I started to watch Souths a bit. Now I’ve got a soft spot for the Wests Tigers because we see them around the place a bit, so I might have jumped ship since I moved away from Queensland.
I went to watch the Tigers play North Queensland recently and they hot a really good crowd at Leichhardt Oval even though it was a freezing Thursday night. I think they need to play more at the suburban grounds.
Speaking of crowds, we feel like our crowds are getting better at the Giants. It’s a tough market, but our membership is getting up there above 20,000, and we’ve actually got pretty loyal fans that have been there since the start and don’t miss games or anything, which is pretty unbelievable to see.
So we feel like it’s growing. We had a big day last week out in the west doing school visits. We’re trying the best we can, and it helps when you win games as well.
I’ve been asked who is the better Sam Reid. I might give that one to him. I’ve had a more adventurous career but he’s got a premiership.
This week, I’m looking forward to playing the Lions in Brisbane. My mates don’t get to watch too much footy, so they’re all coming down from the Sunny Coast with about 25 tickets trying to get all the boys to come down and watch because we only play up there once a year. They’ll be letting me know about it if I do something wrong!
Overall, I’m feeling happy as this year. It’s a bit stressful sorting out a wedding but I’m a pretty cruisy bloke. The most stressful thing this week was the exams I’ve just had in the health and science degree I’m studying.
But life’s pretty good at the minute.