Wayne Carey’s return to suburban footy lasted just 20 minutes, as 4,000 fans watched a calf strain force him from the field in his debut game for Marby Park on Saturday.
With a brilliant goal from the boundary in the opening few minutes, it looked like Carey was about to put on a show for the packed crowd, but before he could finish celebrating the goal, he was limping off the ground.
The 40-year-old, known as ‘the king’ in his AFL career, described the injury as “old man’s disease”.
“It felt like it just tore right off the bone, it was pretty painful,” Carey said from the sidelines.
“I’m just disappointed I couldn’t play a full game for the crowd that’s turned out today,” he said.
But with their high profile recruit injured, Marby Park still managed a comfortable win, defeating rival Avondale Heights by 62 points.
Former AFL star’s career all but over
Marby Park coach Craig Clinnick said Carey’s injury was just something that happens in footy.
“These things happen, I feel sorry for Wayne, it looks like it’s definitely over for him, I’m not sure whether he’ll be able to play again,” Clinnick said.
“We’re glad he’s played today, it was a fantastic crowd that got behind him and the team, fantastic for the club,” he said.
Fans at the ground didn’t leave disappointed as Carey spent most of the second and third quarters taking photos with fans and signing autographs from the bench.
He even kissed a couple of babies, in a sign a future in politics may not be out of the question for the former AFL great.
The torn calf muscle has dashed any hopes Carey had of finishing out the season with Marby Park and appears to be the last game of footy he’ll ever play.
It’s the second time a calf injury has cut short his return to footy, after his debut for Queensland club Palm-Beach Currumbin in 2009 lasted just five minutes.
Time for a switch
Charles Happell, author of Carey’s biography, The Truth Hurts said while it’s the end of his playing days he thinks Carey will continue to be involved in footy.
“I think he’s got a lot to offer young kids in the AFL, particularly kids who haven’t had the best upbringings, he’s a great speaker,” Happell said.
“He’d be great in a mentor, advisory role for a team.
“He’s a good commentator as well, I hope he can be involved in more mainstream media next year, he’s got a great footy brain and doesn’t pull his punches, he just tells it like he sees it.”
In terms of his playing future, Happell said Carey might have to try other sports.
“His body’s crying out for him to play lawn bowls.”
For more AFL stories – including the latest on the players’ pay dispute – pick up your hard copy of the City Journal, out on August 16.