‘Owe it to myself’: Luckless Blue’s emotional reveal after more ACL ‘despair’, and why he won’t retire


Carlton fan favourite Sam Docherty is fighting retirement, stating his desire to leave the game on his own terms as he endures his third knee reconstruction.

The 30-year-old suffered his latest ACL blow in Opening Round against Brisbane, with the veteran consigned to another season out of the game.

In addition to his on-field injury susceptibility, Docherty has also fought multiple bouts of testicular cancer in years past.

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After spending the 2018 and 2019 seasons away from the game due to back-to-back knee reconstructions, the 11-year Blue will be stuck on just one game played this season as his teammates challenge for a 17th Carlton premiership.

Herald Sun Chief Football Writer Mark Robinson asked Docherty if he considered retirement, having undergone the tormenting process for a third time.

“I definitely think there was an element of dreading the rehab and the surgery and everything that comes with it, having gone through it a few times,” Docherty told Fox Footy’s AFL 360 on Tuesday.

“(I’m) partly too stubborn. There’s something in my make-up that I do want to finish my career on my own terms and in my own way — and that time’s not now.

“I’ve got a long 12 months of rehab ticking away in the background. I’ve had my fair share of bad moments in AFL footy, but I still love the game and I still feel like I can play at a high level when I’m out there.”

“I don’t know if I owe it to myself or whatever it is. I don’t really know the reasoning behind it. It’s been a tough road, but I feel like I owe it to myself to go out in my own way … Whenever that is, I don’t know.

“There’s been plenty of times over my career that I probably could have pulled up stumps.”

While the AFL landscape was rocked by Docherty’s ACL rupture in early March, the veteran utility said the news didn’t jolt him.

“No (the diagnosis didn’t come as a surprise), in a short answer. There (were) little gut feelings in the morning (after the Brisbane game),” Docherty said.

“I had some weird moments when I was flying back (to Melbourne). I didn’t feel really stable when I got home and then (I had) some conversations with the radiologist … It just gave me a bit of a strange response and (I thought) ‘this just doesn’t feel great’.

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Docherty described the moments that ensued when he was informed of the worst-case scenario.

“I found out on the way home (from the airport). (There was a) fair bit of despair on that last part of my drive,” he said.

“I got home and shared a pretty gutting moment with my wife. She’s been there the whole time as well, riding every bump of my career.

“This one was pretty gutting. (I’d) just hit 30, playing some reasonable footy, club is in a really good position this year, but (those are) the cards that get dealt, unfortunately.”

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The defender-turned-midfielder also spoke of the mental aspect of the cruel setback.

“As much as I’m probably in a good mental spot now, both of us (weren’t) through that first four weeks,” Docherty said.

“There (was) a lot of ‘why me? Why this? Why us again?’ sort of mentality.

“You can’t control any of that stuff, unfortunately. My opportunity is I get to respond with what happens.

“I’ve always thought of my career as a bit of a book, and this just feels like another chapter that I’m writing.

“I’m driven to get back and play footy. I don’t have that much longer left in the AFL, so we’ll see how it goes.”


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