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    Sacked Podcast: Brian Lake opens up on the depths of his post-career battles with mental health and alcohol

    Two moments in Brian Lake’s life kick started a downward spiral which took him to a painful rock bottom. He opens up on his lowest moments and getting his life back.

    Triple premiership star Brian Lake has revealed the depths of his post-career battle with mental health and alcohol issues after reuniting with his wife, Shannon, and overcoming his demons.

    Norm Smith medallist Lake told the Herald Sun’s Sacked podcast his retirement from football and his break-up with Shannon in 2018 saw him lose all identity and kick started a downward spiral.

    Lake spent time in a Thailand rehab facility and has had two separate stints in a Camberwell mental health hospital, one of them on his 37th birthday.

    The ex-Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn defender was also given a community order for stalking Shannon while they were apart and was warned by a judge he would have been jailed if he had previous criminal offences.

    But through extensive work with a psychologist, regular medication and re-establishing pillars in his life around family, work and community football, he is back on track.

    Lake admits he will always have to work on his mental health but in a week in which former St Kilda defender Sam Fisher’s transition from football has been laid bare, Lake said his was a cautionary tale.

    Lake, 40, can be found playing football with Caroline Springs or continuing his restoration project on the club’s coach’s box. Shannon is a regular at the club canteen.

    Kids Bailee, Cohen and Mylee are never far from the football club environment.

    Lake said he had made significant mistakes in his life but believes he has come a long way since those nights in a Japan jail when he had no regard for his reputation or the damage he was doing to himself and those around him.

    “We are back together, it’s been 18 months now, so a lot of hard work had to go into it,” Lake told Sacked of his relationship with Shannon.

    “Not just work on yourself but work with psychologists and marriage counsellors and issues that we have had individually and collectively.

    “So it’s been very settling and the kids are in a good space as well.

    “I made a fair few mistakes and I will put my hand up and say, “Yeah, I did that”, but I think people deserve a second chance.

    “I’ve been lying low for the last couple of years. I have been heavily involved in local footy and people around me have seen the change, but everyone deserves a second chance.

    “It wasn’t easy to put your hand up and say, “I need help” because you can be in denial for a fair period.

    “I spent time in a mental health facility, a bit of time in Camberwell at a hospital there.

    “I spent three or four weeks in the Thailand (clinic). It’s not easy spending your birthday in a facility. Luckily my family and friends could come in, but it was my 37th birthday.”

    LOSING HIS IDENTITY POST-FOOTBALL

    LIKE few other footballers this century, Lake retired with his last step on the football field an elevation to a club few others inhabit.

    Already the 2013 Norm Smith medallist, the 2015 grand final victory with Hawthorn made him a triple premiership-winner and dual All Australian.

    Hawthorn told him two days after that clash it was letting him go.

    It ended a 251-game career that included 197 games at the Western Bulldogs and 54 at the Hawks.

    And yet for all the hospitality and business courses he undertook as a player, for the millions of dollars he made across his career, football and relationships were his rock.

    By July 2018 as his relationship with Shannon faltered and he searched for meaning post-football, spending seven weeks on reality TV show Survivor, he arrived back in Melbourne to the news that would kickstart his descent.

    “With the transition out of football you just feel a little bit lost and you try to replace footy because footy has been your everything,” Lake said.

    “Within two years you have footy go, which was always going to happen, and then your relationship breaks down, which have been the two pillars of your life for 15 years.

    “So with those two stripped away, you are laying there bare.

    “That is the stuff I have worked on with my psychologist, it’s your exoskeleton. It’s footy which was a false stability because I didn’t have anything else in my life.

    “So you take those two steps away and I was laid bare. Who am I as a person?

    “So I thought, stuff this, I’m going to Bali then (ex-Bombers player) Rick Olarenshaw said we are going to Japan for a footy tournament. So yeah, why not? I am a free spirit.

    “Then I had a heated conversation on the phone with my partner and it’s Saturday night and you write yourself off with alcohol, get into an argument with a guy in the bar and you end up in jail.

    “But at that stage I didn’t really care because I have (had) lost so much.

    “I am sitting in a cell and I don’t really care about anything at that stage and people say in poker terms you are on tilt. I was on tilt at that stage, nothing really phased me.

    “Are you worried about your image? Nothing phased me, that was my mindset.

    “You are going over there spending money and then you have lawyers, but I didn’t care.

    “So you look through those last few years, it’s cost me a sh**load. But it’s where I have changed a little bit, got more stability in my life, but I still need a lot of work.”

    THE UNDERLYING CAUSES

    LAKE believes that the instinctive, impulsive moves he made as a star AFL defender were exactly the issues that hampered him away from the bright lights of the game.

    Issues of abandonment and rejection that he had felt for some time – perhaps back to his childhood – fuelled anxiety and insecurities that he handled within the regulated and strict confines of an AFL club.

    When he lost that security – moved on so quickly after the 2015 premiership – he used obsessive behaviours to find some control and instead lost any sense of it.

    A photo of Lake using white powder in October 2018 led to the Thailand rehab trip, followed by his twin trips to the Camberwell facility.

    Hawks officials Jeff Kennett and Graham Wright were among his visitors in that facility as he began the first steps to turning his life around.

    The penny dropped when the counselling and advice he was receiving in those facilities began to resonate after so many futile attempts from those around him to drive change.

    “When (your psychologist) starts talking about certain things it starts to make sense now,” he said.

    “The jigsaw starts coming together and you can understand why you are like this. Impulsivity is one of the biggest things I have struggled with and it’s great in sportspeople but it didn’t help me with outside stuff.

    “I remember I fought against the medication side of it, but I had issues as far back as 2013.

    “I was missing sessions because I didn’t take my medication for two or three days and I was getting light-headed and dizzy and couldn’t function.

    “I found ‘Survivor’ easy because you take all the stresses of work and paying bills away, but as soon as I left those places, that’s when the hard work happens.

    “I still have bad days and inconsistent days, but it’s getting back to some triggers that I leave on my phone that I have to work on.

    “So it’s a constant battle, but then you make sure you have got good people around you that understand that those triggers you have got can help you out.”

    Lake’s Caroline Springs team, coached by ex-Magpie Brodie Holland, is on top of the Western Region Football League’s Division 1 ladder.

    Last week Lake was thrown forward and kicked eight goals and yet the weekly routine is as important as the on-field suburban heroics.

    “I’ve been renovating the coach’s box,” Lake said.

    “If it’s painting the 50m arcs or doing stuff at the footy club ... It’s my time. I work for one of my good friends, Matt Sutton, his business is called Weldco, so we do welding compliance through OH&S.

    “Living across the road from the club doesn’t help, but Shannon is doing a fair bit of work in the canteen, it’s my second home. You work 9-5 and that’s my release. I can finish work and clock off for ‘Brian Time’, going to the local footy club. Playing it, coaching it, doing the Level 3 (coaching course) with AFL Victoria. It’s something I will move into.

    “I would love to be in football full time, but unfortunately when you make a few mistakes it is hard to get back into that area. It’s why I threw everything back into local football because it’s where I am going to be for the next 15-20 years.”

    The on-field sledging will never stop, even if it has changed from teasing about his name change from Harris to Lake at the end of the 2007 season to more recent events.

    But when you have that stability – job, family, support structure, self-belief – it is so much easier to laugh it off.

    “It’s been tough and no matter what you do, people judge you as soon as they look at you,” he said. “Brian, what has he done this time? You get heckled and I still cop it.

    “It used to be about changing my name. What’s your name going to be this week, Brian? The jail stuff gets a run. But it hasn’t been too personal with the partner stuff.

    “You put yourself on the line and people say, ‘What do you do it for?’ I don’t know why I keep doing it, 40 years old and when I finish I will have to move on to something else but footy has been my life since I started at the age of 11. I have to do something different but I can’t. I love football.”

    Link: https://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/a...6c06205b07b089

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    Re: Sacked Podcast: Brian Lake opens up on the depths of his post-career battles with mental health and alcohol

    Thanks for sharing this, good story on redemption and I hope Brian can keep on track and have a normal life.

    Had great memories of him at fullback .

    He was a champion player.

    Shows how hard fall can be. One minute premiership hero, next minute delisted.

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    Re: Sacked Podcast: Brian Lake opens up on the depths of his post-career battles with mental health and alcohol

    This is good. We should celebrate this kind of open discussion.
    "It's over. It's all over."

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    Re: Sacked Podcast: Brian Lake opens up on the depths of his post-career battles with mental health and alcohol

    Sacekd Podcast: The highs and lows of controversial Western Bulldogs defender Brian Lake

    Brian Lake put his body through hell to be one of the game’s best defenders. But when the Bulldogs leadership group turned on him, he knew it was time to get out.

    Throw a brick at Brian Lake because in his 11 seasons as a star Western Bulldogs defender there was little he could not withstand.

    He overcame a childhood sleep apnea disorder to make the grade and was drafted in front of only eight other players at pick 71 in the 2001 ‘superdraft’.

    He was regularly in skirmishes that saw him sidelined with suspension; he pushed through the pain and countless painkilling injections to take to the field when other players wilted.

    Lake conceded he was partly to blame. He could find trouble without having to look too hard and he wasn’t as driven from a fitness sense as the more dedicated players forming the bulk of the Bulldogs’ leadership group.

    Yet it was for good reason that his coach Rodney Eade handed him an added burden most weeks as well as tasking him with standing the game’s great forwards.

    He knew Lake had the inner resilience to stand the white-hot heat of his famous sprays for the good of the side.

    Sometimes he wanted to sharpen Lake’s wavering focus but often his star defender would step up to the role of whipping boy because Eade knew he had the fortitude to keep calm and carry on.

    “My problem was that I responded when he used to do that,” Lake told the Herald Sun’s Sacked podcast. “He used to get the message across to the side through me.

    “If he wanted to send the group a message, he would use it on me because he knew I could handle it and I would respond to it.”

    Eade once told reporters post-game that Lake “forgot to turn up” to a match against Sydney at the SCG. The Herald Sun highlighted Lake in a photograph from the game, saying “We found him.”

    “I can’t remember a lot of what he used to say … because I was trying to keep eye contact,” he said. “There were three times in that game when he had a go at me. He would berate me and walk off and then he would come back when he remembered something else. He just kept coming back.”

    Through it all, Lake won a best and fairest in 2007 and back-to-back All-Australian blazers in 2009 and 2010.

    So when the proverbial hit the fan in 2011 you can imagine Lake’s disappointment at questions over his attitude or capacity to play through pain.

    He had knee, shoulder and hip surgery that ruined his pre-season, yet members of the leadership group were openly critical and wanting him sent back to the VFL.

    When assistant coach Brett Montgomery questioned his mental toughness in dealing with injury during a press conference, Lake knew he couldn’t stay.

    “The leadership group turned on me a bit when my performance dropped … and with what Brett Montgomery said, he didn’t say it to me personally, he said it in the media,” Lake said.

    “They put a media ban on me. It was like ‘you guys can talk, but I couldn’t get my point of view across’.

    “It was probably my fault as Rocket (Eade) allowed me to get away with it all those years. His thought was ‘if you are playing good football on the weekend, whatever you are doing off the field must be working‘.

    “If I wasn’t going as hard in the weights room … I wasn’t big on training on the day before a game. That was my routine and it wasn’t like the leadership group’s routine.

    “That was Matthew Boyd, Daniel Cross and Daniel Giansiracusa … they were manic and I was a bit different from them.

    “Then 2011 hits and Brian’s performances were not going well, Rocket was under the pump. He admitted that when he came in and said: ‘You have to go back to the VFL for a week … the guys are pushing for it. My hands are tied … I can’t do anything (about it), Brian’.”

    Asked if that snub stung, Lake said: “Yeah, especially after what you had put your body through … I think Rocket coached 162 games and I reckon I played 146 of those games.

    “With all the injuries I had, I still managed to play. I would hate to think about how many anaesthetics I had, I put my body through a lot and to say that I came off three surgeries (leading into 2011). To get your knee drained in the morning and then getting a local (anaesthetic) put in it on a Saturday to play … I think I was pretty mentally tough.”

    Lake limped through a frustrating 2011 season, but honoured the final year of his contract under new coach Brendan McCartney in 2012.

    However he had already made a decision to start looking around.

    “The relationship with (some of) the players and staff at the footy club hurt. It hurt me a lot, but it was probably not going to be fixed …

    I had a discussion with (his manager) Marty Pask at the time and said ‘I think I am going to be in a bit of strife with the new coach’.

    “I told him to find me a new home.”

    SLEEP APNEA AND ABATTOIR

    Lake’s cousin wanted to “toughen” him up after he left school, giving him a job at an Adelaide abattoir.

    It was a means to an end; all he wanted to do was play AFL footy.

    “It was very robotic, physical work,” Lake said. “I wasn’t doing weights at that stage, but I was pushing a lot of beef which ended up helping me in my footy.”

    Lake was playing at the lower levels at Woodville-West Torrens, but his hectic schedule and a sleep disorder conspired against him.

    “I was working in the abattoir from about 4.30 or 5 in the morning and I would get home at about 1.30 or 2 in the afternoon,” he recalled.

    “Before training, I would have a little snooze. You would end up waking up at six or seven o’clock and you would miss training and get a bit of dinner. Then you would go back to bed and you would be up again at 4.30 and do it all again.”

    At the 2000 draft camp, he was so “crook” he struggled through the interviews with clubs, owing to his interrupted sleep.

    “I missed out,” he said. “I thought ‘my opportunity is probably gone’.”

    But a sleep apnea diagnosis and a medical procedure reignited his footy dreams.

    “Brenton Hart was good friends with (Bulldogs recruiting manager) Scott Clayton,” he said. “He tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘They’re pretty keen on you … we will get your off-field stuff organised.”

    Lake had surgery which resulted in more sleep and the opportunity of a lifetime loomed with the Bulldogs.

    “You go in and get your tonsils and adenoids taken out and that really helped me,” he said. “They actually got them tested … they were that big … you could really feel the difference.”

    PLUGGER AND THE BIG DOGS

    Imagine playing on Tony Lockett in your first game … at VFL level! Then imagine, if you can, volunteering for the onerous role on the game‘s most prolific goalkicker.

    Lake did both in early 2002.

    Lockett was on his comeback trail and returning to football via Port Melbourne, Sydney’s VFL side. Lake was working through the ranks at the Bulldogs’ VFL side, Werribee.

    “I think I only had a 12 month contract at that stage,” Lake said. “I went in and spoke to (assistant coach) Chris Bond and said: ‘Mate, I want to have the opportunity to stand (Lockett)’.

    “I thought ‘stuff it, if I am going to be sent back to Adelaide within 12 months at least I can say that I stood Tony Lockett’.”

    While Lockett kicked three goals, Lake learnt some valuable lessons.

    His AFL debut came with limited game time in Round 21, 2002, which was Terry Wallace’s last game as Bulldogs’ coach.

    His successor Peter Rohde dropped him the next week but the following year he would go on to play on some of the best forwards.

    “The game was different back then when (big forwards) hardly left the 50 and you had big forwards like Fraser Gehrig, Matthew Lloyd and Alastair Lynch,” he said.

    “I’ve looked at the stats in my first couple of years and I’d touched the ball four times here, five times there, and six times there. It was probably like a Simon Prestigiacomo role.

    “But I wanted to do more. You have to be able to touch the footy, when you play AFL football you want to have 15 or 20 touches.”

    A broken hand saw Lake unable to clench his palm to punch across 10 weeks in 2004, so he started to back himself in and go for the mark.

    Lake, the attacking defender, was born.

    Incredibly, he played in only one win from his first 17 games.

    “We were in a bad spot … (chief executive) Campbell Rose came into the footy club and said everyone had to take a 15 per cent pay cut or these five or six players will have to go.

    “You can’t really take 15 per cent out of nothing, so I was OK with it. But when you have got Chris Grant and Scott West sitting there, you are talking about a fair bit of money.

    “It probably affected Nathan Brown a bit because after that, he goes over to Richmond.”

    NAME CHANGE

    Brian Lake was Brian Harris for the first 25 years of his life before the impending birth of his first child made him seek a name change at the end of the 2007 season.

    He explained: “I took my mum’s maiden name Harris at birth. My parents were still together and they were on and off for a period when I was younger.

    “They ended up getting married when I was about 11 or 12 and my mum changed her name to dad’s name, so they gave me the option of changing it to Lake as well.”

    He chose to keep Harris at that time as he didn’t want to attract any further attention at school or in footy teams. “In hindsight,” Lake said, “they shouldn’t have given me a choice.”

    He played the first 97 games of his career as Brian Harris. But after winning the best and fairest in 2007, he embarked on the rest of his career as Brian Lake.

    “My wife was pregnant with our first child and I thought I had to keep the old man’s name going,” he said.

    “I still get stuff from CityLink that says ‘Harris’ and I just don’t worry about those messages.”

    STOP ROO …. AND THAT FREE KICK

    Lake revealed the Bulldogs had a pre-game plan to stop St Kilda forward Nick Riewoldt ahead of the 2009 preliminary final.

    “He (Riewoldt) was in the gun for that game,” he said. “We knew he was super fit and we thought if we could just get in his way 20 or 30 times, we would just knock him.

    “We thought if he was getting tired, we could stop him. We thought if we could do that, hopefully in the last quarter, he would be getting fatigued.”

    The Bulldogs held a narrow advantage at halftime of the game, leading by seven points … then came the most controversial moment of the match.

    Riewoldt was sensationally paid a free kick after Lake made slight contact with him, with the Saints’ skipper accentuating the impact.

    He kicked a game-defining goal with the Saints going on to win the match by seven points.

    “Something must have been said at halftime, whether it was Nick himself talking to the umpires as you could do at that time as captain,” he said.

    “He might have said something like ‘I am getting some off the ball treatment here’ because they (the umpires) were looking at it straight away. Whether he deliberately ran across me or not, (I don’t know). I just laid a little bit of a bump and you watch the way he falls.

    “There is not much contact in it really and they have blown the whistle for a free kick.”

    Lake verbally copped it immediately from the Saints.

    “Kozzie (Justin Koschitzke) was really strong on it … he was like ‘you’ve just cost your side a Grand Final spot,” he recalled.

    “It was only the start of the third quarter and I was like ‘There’s still sixty minutes to go mate, turn it up’.

    “We had plenty of other opportunities … but 2009 was probably our best opportunity.”

    HEARTBREAK IN LAS VEGAS

    One of Lake’s last acts as a Western Bulldogs player in late 2012 was to help organise the club’s footy trip to Las Vegas.

    He “had a fair crack” one night and went to bed in the early hours. He slept deep into the next day.

    When he emerged at the club’s meeting place at the Bellagio the next evening, he couldn’t believe how the mood had changed.

    “You walk in and you see Jarrad Grant crying and I said ‘what’s going on here?’ They said: ‘A Port Adelaide player (John McCarthy) has died’.

    “Adam (Cooney) said that he had tried to get hold of me (when he had heard an AFL player had died in Las Vegas). He said ‘I thought it was you for a second’.

    “My partner Shannon was coming over at the end of our trip and she had only heard that an AFL player had died in Vegas. It wasn’t until she landed in Vegas that she knew it wasn’t me.”

    # TOMORROW – LAKE ON HIS THREE FLAGS, HIS NORMIE AND HIS SACKING ON MAD MONDAY

    Link: https://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/a...06760340dda2ca

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    Re: Sacked Podcast: Brian Lake opens up on the depths of his post-career battles with mental health and alcohol

    That Reiwoldt free kick paid before the bounce of the third quarter really changed the momentum of that match. In such a low scoring game. They then kicked the next two. Reiwoldt gained confidence. Had a big second half. The Saints only kicked nine goals for the game.

    The Dogs won the inside 50 count 57-40. It does hurt you when you can only kick seven goals from 57 entries. We did not have a power forward target in that team. Johnson was our main target backed up by Hahn, Gia and Welsh. If the Barry Hall trade would have happend one year ealier we would have won that game easily.

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    Re: Sacked Podcast: Brian Lake opens up on the depths of his post-career battles with mental health and alcohol

    Shows how far behind we were in leadership ethos during that time. When other clubs were accepting that players are different and outside of a few key tenets some bandwidth needs to be given to the group to be individuals, we were being led by a bunch of fascists (I say that tongue in cheek - sort of).

    An often shared view is that we should get back the hard arse Montgomery or the super professional Boyd, but as far as I can tell the latter played his most valuable football for us when his leadership duties were stripped back, and was forced to play a specific role for the team. While after Montgomery was released we went on the best finals run ever seen to win a flag.
    Borderline diplomatic.

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    Re: Sacked Podcast: Brian Lake opens up on the depths of his post-career battles with mental health and alcohol

    Quote Originally Posted by jeemak View Post
    Shows how far behind we were in leadership ethos during that time. When other clubs were accepting that players are different and outside of a few key tenets some bandwidth needs to be given to the group to be individuals, we were being led by a bunch of fascists (I say that tongue in cheek - sort of).

    An often shared view is that we should get back the hard arse Montgomery or the super professional Boyd, but as far as I can tell the latter played his most valuable football for us when his leadership duties were stripped back, and was forced to play a specific role for the team. While after Montgomery was released we went on the best finals run ever seen to win a flag.
    Don’t you think those guys being so shit at their jobs actually made us better though? It’s just like resistance training!
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    Re: Sacked Podcast: Brian Lake opens up on the depths of his post-career battles with mental health and alcohol

    I think the saddest part of Brian's story is that to the greater football community he is known as a Hawthorn great, not a bulldog.

    Gosh imagine if we had 2009 Brian in our team right now.......

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    Re: Sacked Podcast: Brian Lake opens up on the depths of his post-career battles with mental health and alcohol

    Quote Originally Posted by ReLoad View Post
    I think the saddest part of Brian's story is that to the greater football community he is known as a Hawthorn great, not a bulldog.

    Gosh imagine if we had 2009 Brian in our team right now.......
    I think the dismantling of the relationship he had with his wife and subsequent stalking charges are a bit worse.
    Borderline diplomatic.

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    Re: Sacked Podcast: Brian Lake opens up on the depths of his post-career battles with mental health and alcohol

    Quote Originally Posted by jeemak View Post
    I think the dismantling of the relationship he had with his wife and subsequent stalking charges are a bit worse.
    Word on the street is she became very close with one of her footy team mates whilst he was filming Survivor. Allegedly.

    Offeth the rails he subsequently went. Allegedly.
    Retired from match day thread - Sep 2021 (Sometimes)

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    Re: Sacked Podcast: Brian Lake opens up on the depths of his post-career battles with mental health and alcohol

    Quote Originally Posted by Grantysghost View Post
    Word on the street is she became very close with one of her footy team mates whilst he was filming Survivor. Allegedly.

    Offeth the rails he subsequently went. Allegedly.
    I didn't know she was a footballer.
    Borderline diplomatic.

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    Re: Sacked Podcast: Brian Lake opens up on the depths of his post-career battles with mental health and alcohol

    Great to see him working back through it and from it

    Ive met Brian on a number of occasions - he was often doing bar work at the Whitten oval in his early days on the nights coterie groups got together. Whilst he's admitted to making some mistakes, I always found him a terrific person, with a big heart.

    As always, I'll be barracking for Briza

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    Re: Sacked Podcast: Brian Lake opens up on the depths of his post-career battles with mental health and alcohol

    Quote Originally Posted by jeemak View Post
    I didn't know she was a footballer.
    Yes she played women's football
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