- Jan 17, 2017
- AFL Club
- North Melbourne
Could barely manage himself to get on the field, let alone a whole list.*
*Still salty he left
*Still salty he left
This is the Gaff, DeGoey, Dusty effect playing out live.
It's an arms race we can and will never win.This is the Gaff, DeGoey, Dusty effect playing out live.
US: “Come to North and we will pay you handsomely and offer you the resources and support to be successful”
OTHERS: Come play here and we will pay you handsomely and offer you the resources and support to be successful and a job after footy”
PLAYER: “Done! Where do I sign!”
It’s a rort and one reason why free agency doesn’t work in the AFL landscape even though I agree with it.
The next generation of footballers are *******s and I hate to say it but playing for big clubs will only become more appealing as time goes on.
Very candid interview. He seems too good a bloke to be stuck at that place (jk).The AMT interview in the HS - this is part 3.
McDonald-Tipungwuti opens up on his secret battles
Dreamtime at the ’G is the AFL’s celebration of indigenous players but it was also one of the worst weeks of Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti’s life.
After finally beating the odds to become a star, he was battling deep, private pain.
Hamish McLachlan, Sunday Herald Sun
October 6, 2019 6:00am
Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti overcame almost impossible odds to make it to the AFL. The abandoned boy who could hardly speak English when he arrived in Melbourne was now living his dream at Essendon.
But McDonald-Tipungwuti couldn’t outrun all the trauma from his past.
Hamish McLachlan talks with McDonald-Tipungwuti and his adopted mum Jane McDonald about their highs and crushing lows.
READ PART ONE AND TWO
HM: Jane — why did you have such belief in Anthony?
JM: I’m not sure why, but I always had that belief that he had the talent to play — we just had to find a way to find the best version of himself — body and mind. Once he said to me, “Why do you want me to do this?” And I said, “Because it would be a shame if Australia didn’t see your talent. You have talent, and you have skills, that nobody else has”. He still doesn’t play with complete confidence in himself that he can go out there and change a game.
HM: Are you still not confident in your ability?
AMT: Not really.
JM: As he was growing up, he was always put down. There was nobody to back him up, and pick him up. The legacy of that remains — he needs to be constantly reinforced that he belongs, he is capable and he is valuable.
HM: Is that true Anthony — is there still emotional scarring? Do you still lack confidence and a sense of belonging?
AMT: For me, trust is a big thing. I’ve been let down so much, that I have real trust issues. I want to be able to trust people — and not think the worst. It is a really negative way of living, it is tiring, and debilitating. The only person that I trust still is Mum.
McDonald-Tipungwuti celebrates with fans after a game. Picture: Michael Klein
HM: In all of your life, still, you only trust Jane?
HM: That’s incredible.
JM: And that’s taken a long time.
HM: When did you start trusting Jane?
AMT: When we moved to Glenroy. My other siblings kept telling me that Mum’s the only person that’s going to be there during the tough times, and I then realised she had been, and was, and I believed always would.
JM: He found it hard because he trusted his grandma. She died, and he loved Grandma with all his heart. She was the only one that took care of him growing up, most of us have a mum, a dad, and siblings, but he only had grandma that he loved and trusted. And then she left him. He thought he couldn’t love me because it would happen again, and crush him.
AMT: Also, as Grandma was the only person that I had ever loved because of what she’d done for me, I thought if I loved somebody in that way, I thought I’d be disrespecting Grandma.
HM: When did you drop your guard, and trust Jane and accept your vulnerabilities?
AMT: It took a while. I remember I was crying at home once … … and I told Mum I loved her. Remember?
JM: I was walking up the stairs and he was on the landing, crying. He would have been 20, and I said, “Why are you crying?” And he said, “I love you”. I said, “I know you love me”. He said, “No, Mum. I really do love you”. That was a turning point for him at that stage.
HM: Had you ever told Jane you’d loved her before?
HM: Is there anyone else in the world you’ve told you love?
AMT: Just Mum.
HM: No one else — ever — you’ve felt close to?
AMT: No. It takes me a long time to trust, and believe in people. I haven’t had a lot of love in my life, and haven’t really been exposed to people who care of love, so I guess I have been very wary and reserved and careful not to get myself into a situation where I can be left, or let down.
HM: Your first game in 2016. How does John tell you that it’s go time?
AMT: Because I was playing in most of the games during the pre-season, I knew I was going to play round one, but I didn’t want to get ahead of myself. Woosha came up, had a chat to me and said, “Your dream is going to come true in round one”.
McDonald-Tipungwuti with Essendon coach John Worsfold. Picture: Getty Images
HM: It was against the Suns.
AMT: I couldn’t believe it was happening. The first moment when I really felt like an AFL player was when I was standing next to Gary Ablett. He looked at me, smiled and gave me a wink. I thought “This is unreal, I’m standing next to a player I’ve idolised my whole life”. And then I realised I had to stop being a fan boy, and be an AFL player, as I was now.
HM: You’ve only missed one game since your debut?
AMT: I missed one game against the Hawks. That was the moment when I knew that fans really enjoyed watching me play. I was sitting where Hawthorn supporters were and they were asking me, “Why aren’t you playing?” I explained that I was being rested, and they said, “I’m not enjoying this game as much because you’re not playing”. They were Hawks supporters. I realised supporters from other teams wanted to watch me too!
HM: You’re obviously aware now of how admired, and loved you are by the football public? It’s real.
AMT: It’s real, but for me, nothing has changed.
HM: Your life seems in a good spot now. Do you wear a small cross under your wrist every game?
AMT: Yep. Every game.
HM: Did you find God at Chairo, or back on the Island?
AMT: Most of my family was Christian. I’d go to Church and have Christian friends, but it was really when we moved to Glenroy. We went to a church just around the corner, and I felt in my heart that I had to change certain things. God was talking to me, and I felt I needed to trust in him. At that point I gave my life to god, and the whole time he was with me, ever since Grandma died. It’s one of those things where I wouldn’t have been here if it wasn’t for God.
HM: Wouldn’t have been where?
AMT: I think I might have done something bad to myself. Yeah. I had a lot of bad thoughts. Suicidal thoughts.
AMT: Yeah. I have always felt a lot of pressure. Moving from Tiwi. Trying to make it in the VFL. Then the AFL. And there was a lot of pressure from up north to go home.
HM: In what way?
AMT: I had phone calls from back home, saying, “you need to come back and start working”.
HM: Who was calling you?
AMT: My biological mum, and my aunties. The only time they rang was when they were at the pub, drinking. That was the only time they would ring because they were drunk. They would get drunk and say things that really affected me and made me question everything about my life, who I was, where I had come from, and what I should be doing.
McDonald-Tipungwuti’s love for his mum and family help him through his lowest moments. Picture: AFL Media
HM: And you went to a dark place as a result?
AMT: Yeah, I did. I was lost again. It was hard on me, and hard on Mum at the same time. I didn’t want to bring all this darkness on to her. I couldn’t do it to someone that I really loved, so I thought it would be better to end it all?
JM: It all seem to just mount and mount. If they rang him while he was in bed, I’d never wake him up and tell him they had rung. I’d always say, “Look, I’ll tell him you called” but it got to the point where Nola was accusing me of stealing him. He was over 18. I said, “It’s his decision. He is making his own decisions”. To lay in the bed next to your son, with your hands in between him and a tie wrapped around his neck is pretty horrific.
HM: Walla, have you actually tried to take your own life?
AMT: Yeah. I did. I thought it was the easiest way to make everything go away.
HM: I had absolutely no idea.
AMT: Yeah. No one does. About a week after I had tried, Mum said, “If you do end it all, you’re going to leave this big hole in me, and your family, your sister. You will hurt all the people that love you”. That’s when it hit me. I was loved. People cared for me. That was enough. It’s easy for me to go and take my own life, but I’m going to hurt a lot of people. My sister rang me too and she reinforced things. “Don’t you go and do anything stupid. Go and sit at the park, clear your mind, then go back home and give mum a hug”.
HM: Because of the weight, and the pressure to go home, you honestly thought it was going to be better to take your own life, than have to go home and bear life there?
HM: When was the last time you had suicidal thoughts?
AMT: Indigenous Round is hard, because all the thoughts come back, and you’ve got to get yourself out of the dark days. Things that I went through on the Island, the thoughts come back.
HM: That recently?
AMT: Yes, but I’m in a really good space now.
HM: Do you feel there is a feeling of resentment from home that you’ve left them?
AMT: Yeah. They think I’m a white man now. They all think that I’ve abandoned them.
HM: Is that what they say?
HM: It’s almost like, your success, and your hard work, is resented.
AMT: Yeah. They think I think I’m above them.
HM: How sad your success isn’t enjoyed and celebrated.
AMT: That’s the most disappointing thing, having your own people not celebrating the success of somebody from your island making something for himself, and making a future for kids like myself.
JM: Those two little boys, CK and Anthony, that came down, one stayed down and got an education and became an AFL footballer. The other, CK almost had as much talent as Anthony, went back and he was a hunter, a fisherman, the real cultural man. He committed suicide twelve months ago. It’s a real issue, but people don’t talk about it enough.
HM: Anthony, what’s the reason that you think people end their life?
AMT: Pressure. A feeling of pressure and having no one to talk to. The only people were us, and a fella named Joel Price that CK felt he could talk to. He was from Albury, the guy that really helped him and made a better life for him. But Joel couldn’t do anything from down here. CK didn’t have somebody to help him. To show him a way forward.
HM: How do we help people like CK, and you, Anthony, in your darkest times?
AMT: I think we need to remember, we are all one people. We all look a bit different, but we are all just people. We need to wrap our arms around each other, always look out for each other, and understand how much you can help someone with a kind gesture. A kind word. A feed. A bed. A job. A hug. A smile. There are a lot of people suffering every day — think about how can you help them? Little things are huge things. Little things can change so much.
HM: Do you want to go home to Tiwi?
AMT: Not at this point. I’ve been called the first Tiwi person to ever leave his mum for a white mum. That was the most hurtful to hear.
HM: Do they not understand on what terms you were abandoned, and how many years you were alone?
AMT: They don’t care.
HM: Have you told your story before?
AMT: No, but I wanted to so it will help people. A lot of kids go through the things that I’ve gone through. They need to know it is OK, and to talk, reach out for help. Don’t do anything silly.
The AFL’s annual indigenous round was a tough week for McDonald-Tipungwuti. Picture: Mark Wilson
HM: There was never any reluctance from your mother for you to leave, was there? She wasn’t trying to keep you?
AMT: No — she wasn’t fussed that I left.
HM: She was happy for you to leave?
JM: When he was expelled from Tiwi College, I went and saw Nola and his aunties, and they said, “he’s yours — you deal with it”.
JM: I dealt with it and made him go to the other school in Tiwi.
HM: When did you sense you those at home were upset with you?
AMT: When I turned 18, I had a phone call from back home. “You’re turning 18 now, come home and work”. All they wanted was for me to make money for them to buy them drink or smokes.
HM: Do you speak to Nola — your biological mum anymore?
AMT: Not really, no. I went to go and talk to her to clear it all up. To tell her what I was doing and why. We spoke, and then I came back here. I’m happy where I am, Jane is my mum, and she’s always going to be my mum.
HM: How was that confrontation with Nola?
AMT: She took it really well, and she said, “I understand it. She is your mum, I haven’t been your mum for your whole life”.
HM: You seem at ease with where it is at.
AMT: I am. Nola acknowledged that she wasn’t there for me, and that it was good for me to be here. For her, personally, she accepted all that, but the others, my cousins, sisters, sometimes my brothers push her too much to get me back. She’s not drinking as much any more either, which helps. I’ve told her she needs to move on with her own life and not be worried about me. She’s got a lot of grandkids herself that she needs to worry about. Live her best life, not worry about me. I’m happy, I’m settled, and every day is getting easier.
HM: That’s great to hear. Long may it continue. What’s your 2km time trial these days?
AMT: Always under seven. Six minutes 25 seconds is my best!
HM: Walla, you’re an AFL star … it’s a long way from bare feet, coke bottles for a footy and an empty stomach!
AMT: It’s a long way. I can’t believe where I started, where I am now and how much opportunity I have. I just want to let people know that they should all feel valued. Don’t look down on yourself, and don’t feel there is no way out. There is. Just talk to people — and see if they can help you find the way.
HM: I feel privileged you’ve told me some of your story. Thank you.
AMT: No worries, thank you. Thanks for coming.
HM: Thanks Jane.
JM: Thanks, Hamish.