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Campbell rues cost of a misplaced kick

Kick back: Matt Campbell wants another chance.

Kick back: Matt Campbell wants another chance. Photo: Quentin Jones

MATT Campbell is not the first person to go to the casino and lose.

However, Campbell didn't realise the stake he was punting on his night out at the gaming house.

He now knows.

Kicked out of the casino, he kicked out at a car in the car park.

Police were called. Weeks later his club decided to end his career as a player there. Campbell had a year to run on his contract with North when they decided to cut him.

Sitting in Darwin now where he has played the last two games for the Darwin Buffaloes in the Northern Territory league to keep fit for a pre-season training program he hopes to yet join at an AFL club after the national or pre-season draft, he reflects ruefully on his post-season.

''Obviously sitting back now with a year to run on my contract is a bit disappointing to be delisted, and to be seeing all the other boys starting training again is hard,'' Campbell said.

''I suppose the only way to judge me is to meet me and get to know me - like they say about not judging a book by its cover. I think people at AFL clubs talk to each other and probably make up their minds about people without speaking to them. I just want them to speak to me and get to know me for themselves first.

''I still think I have a lot to offer in footy, I am only 25 years old and I think I have got over my hamstring problems now. It is two years since I lost a game through injury.

''I think it was back in 2008 the last time I was in a bit of strife at North Melbourne until the incident at the casino and because the police got involved it became something. I am not making an excuse for that I respect North Melbourne's decision. I am responsible for what I have done.''

From Alice Springs Campbell arrived at Arden Street as a lowly third-round rookie draft pick in 2006, but instantly made his mark. He played 13 games in 2007 and, with Lindsay Thomas, formed a pairing in the forward line for North of ultra-quick goalkickers.

Campbell was the yin to Thomas' yang; the extrovert to the introvert.

They worked well together jelling in a forward line exploiting eye-catching pace and goal nous.

His career was accelerating so quickly he struggled to come to terms with the rapid and profound changes in his life.

His mother died after a long illness and he struggled with the grieving, reflecting now that incidents that blighted his career off the field were a product of that turmoil and the release that players get post-season.

''I think I probably struggled to adapt coming down to Melbourne and it took me a while to settle in and that was when I got into some strife. Early on when I first got to North Melbourne that was a big factor [his mother's illness and death],'' he said.

''I went down by myself to North Melbourne and I was on the rookie list and put in a house with two blokes I didn't know and I didn't have a car and didn't know my way around and my mum was sick back home and she died. I probably should have been at home with my family and grieving longer, but I was on a rookie contract and thought I had to be at the club.

''It probably was overwhelming at the time. It was brushed over a bit because I was straight in and playing senior footy and swept up in it all, but I probably got to the end of the year and it was a release.''

Campbell accepts now that joining the dots in the incidents there is a common thread of alcohol.

''That's something I have been reflecting on over the last few months. You go back through the incidents I have had and the majority of the time they have been [when] on the grog.

''Whether it is the nightclubs or the pubs or the alcohol that get you that is something I will be working on whether or not I get picked up by an AFL club, because it is something I have to understand for the rest of what I do with my life.''

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