So hard to move to the big city
SCOTT Chisholm was one of those footballers who burst on the AFL scene and shone as brightly as most, yet was gone just as quickly.
He was a natural running player who symbolised the free spirit that made Fremantle so exciting in its AFL debut season of 1995.
Chisholm named himself the “Prince of Pockets” during the 63 matches he played for the Dockers between 1995-98.
Chisholm was back pocket in a team he fondly remembers as featuring the Wizards of the West, a group of indigenous players who took the game on.
“There was one passage of play which I still have where the ball went from Chisholm to Dale Kickett, handball to Gary Dhurrkay, pass to Gavin Mitchell, who found Winston Abraham for a goal,” he said yesterday when recalling 1995.
“It was a good time. I polled 13 votes in the Brownlow Medal that first year and we gave some pleasure to our fans.”
But like many of his indigenous brothers, Chisholm was lost to the game far too quickly, unable to settle in Melbourne when traded to the Demons.
For every Andrew McLeod or Gavin Wanganeen, there have been many indigenous players who, for different reasons, didn’t have long careers.
In Chisholm’s case it was because of a desire to ensure he was a proper father to his daughter Sarsha, who was born in 2000 in Perth when he was trying to cope with Melbourne’s traffic and weather.
One of nine children, Chisholm grew up without a father and was determined the same would not happen to his children.
“I promised myself I would be a good father to Ambrose (17), Sarsha (9), and Daniel (6),” he said. “Family is everything. I work as an Aboriginal education officer in Perth but have just returned from Darwin where my sisters Raelene (27) and Philomena (30) celebrated their birthday on the same day. Please put that in your story.”
Chisholm left the game at 26, his most recent involvement being coach of the South Fremantle women’s team last year.
But he still follows the fortunes of his “brothers”, understanding how difficult their journey often is.
“AFL clubs still have work to do in helping indigenous players settle. They just don’t realise how hard it is to move from a remote area to a big city,” Chisholm said.
“I still hear stories where clubs aren’t looking after some boys as well as they could. They forget about what these young men are going through.
“A few boys have fallen in holes in the last couple of years, with drugs and things. They need role models, people like Michael Long.”
Another indigenous “Shooting Star” was Adrian McAdam, who kicked 23 goals in his first three games for North Melbourne in 1993. Not even John Coleman could do that.
But two years later he was gone from the game, and these days is living and playing in Alice Springs.
“It could have been different. Had I grown up in Melbourne I would have been all right, would have known how to be more professional and more dedicated,” he said.
“I didn’t work hard enough when things went bad.
“I’d loved to have played more. I still think about North Melbourne winning a premiership in 1996 and how I could have been part of it.
“I needed a mentor, someone to guide me and show me the right way to do things. I think that happens a lot more now.”