Sport AFL Is Chris Judd’s decision to play on a selfish one?
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Is Chris Judd’s decision to play on a selfish one?

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Chris Judd’s decision to play on next year has drawn plaudits from some in the AFL world, but is it in the best interests of Carlton?

Judd admitted on Monday night he’d already made up his mind to retire at the beginning of the season, but that “circumstances changed a bit three or four weeks ago”.

“I was planning what I was going to do next year and then, I guess, circumstances just changed and I thought there’s no use being stubborn about it,” he said on Fox Footy’s On the Couch program.

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The champion – who turns 31 in September – has changed his mind, as is his prerogative, but his coach Mick Malthouse’s comments on the matter over the weekend were instructive.

Getty
Chris Judd’s form has been building since his return from injury. Photo: Getty

“If someone says to me I’m going to retire, I rarely ever try to talk the player out of it,” Malthouse said.

Like his mate, West Coast great Dean Cox, who played on a year too long and clogged the list at the expense of promising big man Scott Lycett, Judd’s decision smacks of a man at a loose end.

Malthouse’s theory is that if the player has already gone down the road so far as to tell his coach, then mentally he has already checked out of the game.

Judd said he had informed friends and family he was done.

Athletes change their mind about retirement all the time – there’s hardly a boxer who’s laced on a glove that hasn’t made a comeback. Usually, they end badly.

Judd said he wanted to give the game away when there was a little bit left in the tank, “but not when there is still half left in the tank”.

Let’s hope the AFL’s most famous hybrid car driver has enough left to not let his club, or himself, down.

— Scott Pendlebury (@SP_10) August 11, 2014

Like his good mate, West Coast great Dean Cox, who played on a year too long and clogged the list at the expense of promising big man Scott Lycett, Judd’s decision smacks of a man at a loose end. Dustin Fletcher is another who has put himself first and Essendon second by playing beyond his time.

Carlton would be better served long term by having Judd give his place to a younger bloke who’ll still be around for their next flag tilt.

Yes, champions deserve to call time on their own terms – but they should also recognise what’s best for the clubs that looked after them for so long by knowing when to call it a day and let the next generation come through.

Judd, who offered to take a sizeable pay cut when his six-year deal ended last year, said money was not a motivator.

“My objective is to not squeeze every dollar out of the footy club, it’s to try and contribute and try to enjoy another year,” he said.

Footy is littered with blokes who hung on too long. Men get old overnight, and Judd’s body has seen some punishment.

Judd feels good times are ahead at the Blues.

“I’m really excited about it. The footy club is starting to turn a little bit of a corner now and playing some decent footy,” he said.

Judd’s form since his return from injury certainly warrants selection, but footy is littered with blokes who hung on too long. Men get old overnight, and Judd’s body has seen some punishment.

Let’s hope the champ doesn’t become another cautionary tale.

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