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  1. #1
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    Mitch Wallis reveals true pain behind the shocking leg break that cost him an AFL premiership



    MITCH Wallis had to get away.

    As best-and-fairest celebrations escalated four days after the Western Bulldogs’ flag, the forgotten midfielder crashed.
    Wallis crept out of the Crown Palladium function early and the next day headed to the airport.
    As his premiership teammates travelled the world like rock stars, Wallis continued his laborious rehabilitation from a broken leg on a family holiday in Queensland.

    He was 11 weeks into a diagnosed one-year recovery and determined to keep pumping weights, riding bikes, swimming in the beach and handballing.
    A chance observer was Travis Boak, the Port Adelaide captain impressed at the lonely Noosa gym sessions Wallis was powering through during the off-season.

    Wallis was still three months away from learning to run again and had only recently been told he could cycle, finally allowed to perspire without the risk of sweat infecting his leg.



    Wallis never stopped training because that is his passion — “I trained every day of the finals series” — but in Noosa, he started wondering why.

    “By the best-and-fairest I hit the wall. It became a bit too hard,” Wallis said this week.

    “We were the talk of the town and I felt like I wasn’t involved in that, and realistically I wasn’t.

    “I needed to go away to recharge, rethink and re-evaluate what I wanted to do and how much I wanted football.
    “At that point it was going to be hard to come back with a positive mindset knowing what I’d missed out on.”

    Let’s come back to the flashpoint moment when he healed mentally. First, to the physical scars.

    Wallis wasn’t recovering from an ordinary broken bone.

    The day after Round 18 last year he had to be cut out of his playing jumper, footy shorts and jocks on the surgical bed before a plate and 10 screws were inserted into his left leg.

    His No. 3 guernsey still contained its GPS in the back, with nurses unwilling to make any adjustments because of the grief it caused.

    The night before, Wallis attempted to kick while tackled by Shane Savage. He missed the Sherrin but connected with the back of his ankle and fractured both the tibia and fibula.

    The impact left Wallis’s left foot dangling and television viewers squirming.

    In the Etihad Stadium rooms afterwards, Wallis howled in agony as trainer Scott Hammond cut through his left boot and ankle tape with a pair of scissors.

    Tears became contagious. Teammates were shielded from Wallis in the coach’s room, but wept to his wails through the walls.

    The traumatic footage was beamed globally, with the The New York Post reporting the freak accident occurred after Wallis “dropped the ball to punt it”.

    Players were offered counselling and coach Luke Beveridge choked on his words at his next two press conferences.

    “I’ve broken a few bones before — hands, wrists and my leg, but not like this,” Wallis said.
    “Straight away I knew it wasn’t great. There was a loud crack and the visual of seeing it not point the right way.
    “The worst bit was when they had to cut the boot off, and the tape as well.”

    Doctors filled Wallis’s veins with morphine in the rooms
    and it was only when orthopedic surgeon David Young “got traction on my ankle and separated the bones” that the pain subsided.

    Finally, Wallis could be loaded into the ambulance.

    Wallis remembers excruciating bursts of pain and the enormity of the injury crystallising when he gazed at his family, all in shock.

    He stayed in hospital for three days “hooked up to the ketamine machine” before the “acute recovery phase” — the first two months.

    It was a day-by-day process. Well, hour-by-hour really, because the pain was so severe,” Wallis said.
    “It’s non-stop pain early, but you have medication to get on top of it. As you progress — if you crouch for a little longer or try to stand up — you get different symptoms.

    “The swelling might increase one day, or you suddenly jolt and that rattles the bones a little bit.”


    With simple tasks a challenge, Wallis moved back home with parents Sue and Steve for a fortnight.

    Wallis couldn’t cook, struggled to shower and didn’t drive for the next five weeks.

    “I relied so heavily on my family support,” he said.

    “I couldn’t see past putting weight through my leg again.”
    For the first eight weeks, Wallis, 24, plugged himself into a bone growth simulator twice a day, every day.


    “You put it around the break site and it sends waves to promote blood flow and healing,” Wallis explained.
    “Whether it helps 0.5 per cent or 10 per cent, I’m not sure. I thought anything that’ll help quicken the recovery or help the recovery I’ll do.”

    In Wallis’s time hooked up to that electromagnetic pulse
    , the Bulldogs’ fairytale began to unfold around the lifelong fan.

    Wallis was unable to fly to Perth for the elimination final, but was at the MCG the next week. He remembers marvelling at Marcus Bontempelli and Jack Macrae as the Dogs brought down the Hawthorn empire.

    “That’s when ‘Why not us?’ really started to come to the fore,” Wallis said.

    The next week, the Dogs progressed to their first Grand Final since 1961.
    Wallis and dad Steve, a former club captain, flew to Spotless Stadium together and sported Bulldog scarfs.
    “I was a full-on supporter. I was yelling and cursing the umpires and it took me back to my childhood a bit,” Wallis said.

    “We sang the song loud and it was just one of the best feelings. To barrack them into a Grand Final is something I’ll remember forever, and I got to go on the ground after the game and do a little lap with Bobby and the team.


    “But the dust settles as you fly home and the realisation you’re going to miss out on a Grand Final kicks in.
    “The fact the club was going through something record-breaking was outweighing that, at this stage. It’s a club I’ve supported for 24 years — that’s pretty special.”

    Wallis and injured captain Bob Murphy stuck to their secret premiership pact, hell-bent on hiding their personal anguish.

    Grand Final week thundered along at lightning speed. The night before the game, Wallis took his mind off football at attending suspended teammate

    Stewart Crameri’s strangely-timed wedding in Docklands.

    And just hours before the game, Sydney’s Gary Rohan — another broken leg victim — sought Wallis out on the MCG.
    “He put his arm around me and asked how I was going,” Wallis said.

    “He had every right to be focused and concerned about playing a Grand Final, but he took the time out of his preparation. I’ll always remember that.”

    Wallis’s surgeon gave him the green light to enjoy a celebratory beer and the Dogs ensured their sidelined mates equally basked in the club’s first flag since 1954.

    But from Grand Final week to Mad Monday to the best-and-fairest, Wallis could no longer put on a brave face.

    “I got through that period of time with a great attitude, but it was starting to wear me down,” he said.

    In Noosa, as Wallis’s positive mindframe steeply eroded, a replay of the Grand Final rolled onto Fox Footy.

    “I started watching it and couldn’t stop,” Wallis said, reeling off his favourite moments.

    Dale Morris’s chase on Buddy, Tom Boyd’s 70m goal, Zaine Cordy kicking the Dogs’ first major.

    “That started the fire inside to fall in love with footy again,” Wallis said.
    “The passion for wanting to play with your teammates and beat the opposition — the competitive steak in me.

    “That’s where the energy started and I transferred that into all the training and it helped me get back as quick as I did.

    “I’d never trained so hard as I did up there by myself in Queensland. I just wanted to come back and run out on the field and beat an opposition.
    “That was my goal, to come back and win a game of footy again. I wanted the feeling of going out and achieving something with my teammates.”

    The beast was back. At Christmas Wallis went in for more surgery, this time to have the metal plate and screws cut out.

    “It was an interesting-looking plate — just like a bit of hardware you’d find in your garage, and it was holding my leg together,” Wallis said.

    “And the screws are just like the ones you’d find in an ordinary toolbox.”
    Wallis was flying — pre-season strength indicators showed he was in the best nick of his career — but five months on, he was still yet to run.

    In January, Wallis attempted to for the first time, using the Alter-G treadmill.

    “Bob and Easton (Wood) and the leadership group got all the team around the machine without me knowing, and they clapped me as I took my first steps,” Wallis said.
    “That tugs at the heartstrings very much so, and I was proud of that moment because I’d reached a massive milestone in my recovery.
    “I get quite emotional thinking about it.”

    The week before the club’s February training camp in Mooloolaba, Wallis had his first kick — using a soft rehab footy — and exactly 300 days after the break he was back playing AFL, three months early.

    “It was a fair bit quicker than normal, but I don’t think it was luck I came back in the condition or state I was in,” Wallis said.

    “I can confidently say I didn’t leave any stone unturned in terms of the rehab process and getting enough training under my belt.
    “I did the work to get there, and for that I can say that I’m proud.”

    MITCH Wallis and Jake Stringer suffered “identical” broken legs — but it was another teammate, Dale Morris, who provided more support during his nine-month rehabilitation.

    Wallis (2016) and Stringer (2011, playing for Bendigo Pioneers) kicked the back of their ankles during tackles, fracturing both the tibia and fibula bones.

    “You think of how many times people are run-down tackled in that situation, it would happen 10 times a game across every level of football,” Wallis said.
    “So for it to happen to two players on the same team is freaky. It’s likely never to happen again in our lifetime.”

    But Wallis’s recovery path was more similar to Morris (2011), given both recovered in the elite environment.

    Wallis had a plate inserted into his left leg, while Stringer’s surgeon inserted a rod into his left leg.
    Fellow leg victims Garry Lyon and Michael Voss also reached out to Wallis last year.

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    Premierships: SENIORS - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, 2014, 2016 . AFL 1954, 2016. RESERVES - 1938, 1945, 1962, 1988, 1994, 1998. UNDER 19S - 1954. Other Premierships - Championship of Victoria 1924. VFL Night Series 1963-64, 1967, 1970. Preseason Cup, 2010.

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  3. #2
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    Re: Mitch Wallis reveals true pain behind the shocking leg break that cost him an AFL premiership

    I had forgotten just how good he was. If this burns in him ongoing, he's going to be a club great. His best is bloody great.
    Matty Boyd Career Highlights:

    Club Captain: 2011-2013 - Night Premiership Side: 2010 - Premiership side: 2016 - Charles Sutton Medal: 2009, 2011, 2012 - All Australian team: 2009, 2011, 2016 - Best Team Player: 2016 - Coaches Award: 2015 - Match Committee Award: 2007 - International Rules Series: 2008, 2010 - AFL Life Member - Western Bulldogs Life Member - Record Games Played by a Rookie - 8th Most Games Played for Footscray/Western Bulldogs - 66th Most Goals Kicked for Footscray Western Bulldogs - Most Finals Won by any Footscray/Western Bulldogs Player - Brownlow Votes: 108

    Bob Murphy Career Highlights:

    Club Captain: 2015-2017 - Night Premiership Side: 2010 - All Australian team: 2011 & 2015 as Captain - AFLPA Best Captain 2015 - Rising Star Nominee & Most Promising player: 2001 - Best Team Player: 2003 - Runner Up, Charles Sutton Medal: 2011 & 2015 - International Rules Series: 2002, 2003 - AFL Life Member - Western Bulldogs Life Member - 6th Most Games Played for Footscray/Western Bulldogs - 27th Most Goals Kicked for Footscray/Western Bulldogs - Club Captain of Western Bulldogs in Premiership Year: 2016 - Brownlow Votes: 51

  4. #3
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    Re: Mitch Wallis reveals true pain behind the shocking leg break that cost him an AFL premiership

    Quote Originally Posted by bulldogtragic View Post
    I had forgotten just how good he was. If this burns in him ongoing, he's going to be a club great. His best is bloody great.

    He's bloody good isn't he? Nobody hunts a footy like Mitch Wallis.
    AFL premiers 2016
    VFL premiers 2016



    Well-meaning little therapists
    Goose-stepping twelve-stepping Tetotalitarianists
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  5. #4
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    Re: Mitch Wallis reveals true pain behind the shocking leg break that cost him an AFL premiership

    Deadset legend. Great story. Watching him run out again, and doing so well, is fantastic.
    "Happy days, Richo...happy bloody days!!!"

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    Re: Mitch Wallis reveals true pain behind the shocking leg break that cost him an AFL premiership

    Saw him outside at the GF. We are so much better with him and what a warrior.
    Footy is my Religion, Whitten Oval is my Church
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    Re: Mitch Wallis reveals true pain behind the shocking leg break that cost him an AFL premiership

    I did a dislocation of the shoulder and break of the arm at the same time in my mid to late teens and it was utter shite, a massive pain in the arse for my family (particularly my dear old mum) and a hindrance to my first and only crack at what was at the time VSFL footy.

    Still I get pain and trouble from it, but I'm so bloody glad I didn't have to put up with the rubbish Stringer,Wallis or Morris have had to put up with these past few years to represent our club.

    Massive bone breaks are horrible.
    There must be better things to do, than sittin' around sniffin' glue, so follow me, just follow me...

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    Re: Mitch Wallis reveals true pain behind the shocking leg break that cost him an AFL premiership

    Quote Originally Posted by jeemak View Post
    I did a dislocation of the shoulder and break of the arm at the same time in my mid to late teens and it was utter shite, a massive pain in the arse for my family (particularly my dear old mum) and a hindrance to my first and only crack at what was at the time VSFL footy.

    Still I get pain and trouble from it, but I'm so bloody glad I didn't have to put up with the rubbish Stringer,Wallis or Morris have had to put up with these past few years to represent our club.

    Massive bone breaks are horrible.

    Ouch! I dislocated my shoulder rolling over in bed one night. Woke up screaming in pain.
    AFL premiers 2016
    VFL premiers 2016



    Well-meaning little therapists
    Goose-stepping twelve-stepping Tetotalitarianists
    The tipsy, the reeling and the drop down pissed
    We got no time for that stuff here
    Zero crime and no fear
    We've bred all our kittens white
    So you can see them in the night
    And at night we're on our knees
    As quiet as a mouse
    Since the word got out
    From the North down to the South
    For no-one's left in doubt
    There's no fear about
    If we all hold hands and very quietly shout
    Hallelujah
    God is in the house...

  10. #8
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    Re: Mitch Wallis reveals true pain behind the shocking leg break that cost him an AFL premiership

    Great read, Mitch is a real inspiration.
    #bemorebulldog

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    Re: Mitch Wallis reveals true pain behind the shocking leg break that cost him an AFL premiership

    But I bet Judas didn't call.

    What fantastic insight into the traumatic recovery process of the AFL footballer, so many phases to a recovery like this - physical, metal and emotional.
    One of the great moments in life is the sense of space and time you feel between taking a hanger and touching back down.

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    Re: Mitch Wallis reveals true pain behind the shocking leg break that cost him an AFL premiership

    Quote Originally Posted by 1eyedog View Post
    But I bet Judas didn't call.

    What fantastic insight into the traumatic recovery process of the AFL footballer, so many phases to a recovery like this - physical, metal and emotional.
    He is a terrific bloke and would make a very good captain one day.

    At the Prelim, we were standing on the terrace before the game and he walked past and stopped to have a chat - great attitude and really hope he can be involved in a Grand Final.
    Premierships: SENIORS - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, 2014, 2016 . AFL 1954, 2016. RESERVES - 1938, 1945, 1962, 1988, 1994, 1998. UNDER 19S - 1954. Other Premierships - Championship of Victoria 1924. VFL Night Series 1963-64, 1967, 1970. Preseason Cup, 2010.

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    Re: Mitch Wallis reveals true pain behind the shocking leg break that cost him an AFL premiership

    I love Wally just like I loved his old man. They are both bulldogs greats because of the passion they played with for the mighty Bulldogs.

    That was a good read.
    They've done studies you know, 60% of the time, it works every time!
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    Re: Mitch Wallis reveals true pain behind the shocking leg break that cost him an AFL premiership

    Quote Originally Posted by 1eyedog View Post
    But I bet Judas didn't call.

    What fantastic insight into the traumatic recovery process of the AFL footballer, so many phases to a recovery like this - physical, metal and emotional.

    A couple of years ago I read an article where Nathan Brown says that in 2008-10 he actively hoped we didn't win a premiership because he wasn't with us anymore and he was "jealous". I'd always had a decent opinion of Browny even after he left because we got decent compensation for him and his career went down the tubes after he shot through. But after I read that I started to wonder if Nathan was all there. Mate, you left. No one forced you to go. You made a decision and you have to own that decision however it turns out. What a disgrace that man is. If I saw him on the street I'd break his nose for him.
    AFL premiers 2016
    VFL premiers 2016



    Well-meaning little therapists
    Goose-stepping twelve-stepping Tetotalitarianists
    The tipsy, the reeling and the drop down pissed
    We got no time for that stuff here
    Zero crime and no fear
    We've bred all our kittens white
    So you can see them in the night
    And at night we're on our knees
    As quiet as a mouse
    Since the word got out
    From the North down to the South
    For no-one's left in doubt
    There's no fear about
    If we all hold hands and very quietly shout
    Hallelujah
    God is in the house...

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