AFL 4 years ago

Liam Jurrah Fallen Idol

  • Liam Jurrah Fallen Idol

Since staring at the TV or kneeling up on plastic seats as young kids, as fans of our club we want to make heroes of the players on the ground.

When a bloke wearing the same colour shirt as you does something magnificent, a 'superhero' construct starts to build in the wide eyes of young supporters.

This bloke is talented and skilled, he's better than his opposition. And because he's wearing the same shirt as me, he represents me on the pitch. He is a superhuman...a superhero!!!!

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In some rare cases, the player in question is able to play the part for his whole career. Immaculately handling each situation on and off the field without dropping their professionalism and self-respect.

But for some superheroes, the mask slips to reveal a flawed bloke, who, when faced with problems, deals with them the wrong way.

Liam Jurrah is one such example. His skills on the footy park were out of this world. You'd pay to go see him. You didn't know what he'd do next, but you know nobody would be able to stop him.

Wearing a Demons guernsey, hero status among fans, especially the younger ones, was inevitable.

But as personal problems took hold and destroyed his AFL career, Jurrah's halo didn't so much slip as disappear into dust.

Last fortnight's news Liam was to be sent to jail for three months for assaulting his wife was unfortunately unsurprising, after being jailed for another assault on a female in 2013. When added to a rap sheet with lowlights including being caught 5 times over the limit and numerous counts of aggravated assault, the days of being the Demon's leading goalkicker and winning mark of the year feel a long time ago.

Still only 25, the tale of Liam Jurrah is a cautionary one, not just for a young man brought up in a traditional Aboriginal community like Walpiri in Alice Springs, but for any young talent unable to handle the pressure stardom brings.

At such a young age, it's hard as a Demon fan not to imagine Jurrah taking his place in Paul Roos' team. The player we remember would have been incendiary on the forward line, and would be the recipient of so many chances to put fans on the edge of their seats.

But those days have very much gone, and Liam Jurrah will always be a 'what could have been' player. All Demons, and football fans as a whole, can do is express sympathy for the people who have been hurt as a result of the ex-players traumatic post-pro football life.

For Liam himself, ironically for a man who caused so many nightmares for opposition players, all we can do is hope he finally finds some peace.

As fans, we will always instinctively make heroes of talented players like Jurrah, players who can do the unexpected. It's an unfortunate part of life that being blessed with superhuman skills doesn't come with an exemption from very human flaws.

For young Demons who grew up spellbound by Liam Jurrah's skills on-the-field, the story of Melbourne's #24 will always be one of the ultimate fallen idol tales.

 

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