JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Tough learning curve for Pie

Date

Emma Quayle

Bright start: Jamie Elliott has attracted plenty of attention despite playing only four games.

Bright start: Jamie Elliott has attracted plenty of attention despite playing only four games. Photo: Paul Rovere

It's been a hard road to the AFL for young Magpie Jamie Elliott, but he believes the journey has been an education.

JAMIE Elliott was mucking around with his sister when the phone rang. He can remember them racing to listen in when their grandmother answered the call, like they always did. This time, though, he saw more than he overheard: the way she went white, then started to sniff, and shake, and look sad. ''We asked what was wrong,'' he said, ''and she told us the news.''

He knew something bad had happened, but it was much worse than that. Elliott's brother Matthew had been driving from Euroa to Queensland when his car ran off a wet road and into the only tree in sight. Before walking into his brother's hospital room, Jamie told himself not to cry. But the first thing he saw when he got through the door was ''all of the tubes, coming from everywhere on his face and body. It just didn't look right. That's when the tears started to run down my face.''

After Matthew spent his first week in a coma, his doctors suggested it was time to shut his life support system down. The boys' mother, Fiona, wouldn't contemplate it. Elliott understands now how hard it must have been for her to hang in for as long as she did, and is glad that she did.

After 3½ weeks Matthew began to pull through; he is 25 now, doing pretty well. At the time, though, all his brother felt was relief. He felt like things could work out. ''The whole time,'' he said, ''I'd prepared myself for the worst. I'd been through something similar before, and I hadn't been prepared. I wanted to be more ready.''

There are reasons Elliott has looked absolutely ready for his first four games as a Collingwood player. There are reasons why, in front of a big crowd, against a good team at the MCG last weekend, he laid tackles and flew for marks as if he was not fazed at all. When he broke his collarbone last year, six weeks into the Murray Bushrangers' season, he knew that if he didn't learn how to stick to a training program there and then, there was no way he would survive at an AFL club, so he stuck to it. The year before he'd injured his hamstring, not done enough to help it mend and been overlooked, by everyone, in the 2010 draft.

When he was recruited by Collingwood on the first day of trade week, as part of a deal with Greater Western Sydney, he wanted to make the most of the three-week head start he had on the other kids waiting for draft day. He knows he plays for a very good team and that his spot is by no means certain, but he doesn't want to give it up. ''You can't get slack,'' he said, ''in any game or on any day. I suppose that with some of the things that have happened to me and my family, it's bettered me as a person. It's made me not want to give things up, to hold onto what I can. Now that I'm in the team, I don't want to go out.''

MATTHEW'S accident, early in 2009, affected Elliott enormously, for a long time. He was trying out for the Bushrangers as a 17-year-old at the time, but dropped out straight away. The thought of driving unnerved him so much that he didn't want to ever do it. It was only last year, when he had finished school and was working on a farm, that he finally learnt. Or, more accurately, was forced to. ''My boss basically made me drive. He wanted me to do more jobs, so he sat me there and told me to just do it. I thank him for that because it was something I never wanted to do. He broke that fear for me,'' Elliott said.

''It was always in the back of my head, what could happen, all of the risks. Every time I even thought about driving I'd fear the worst. I remember my mum making me drive over to the next town one day, and I was shitting myself the whole way. But all I needed was someone to tell me to do it. That was all it took to overcome it. You can't let yourself think like that, you can't let yourself think about all the things that could possibly go wrong.''

Still, that was what he had become used to. Elliott was born in Lorne but his family moved to Dongara, a small town between Perth and Geraldton, when he was just two. When he was 10 they moved again, to Queensland, after his father Gary was diagnosed with skin cancer. Jamie knew his dad was sick, but he was too young to understand how sick. He didn't really think he would die. The realisation that he would sunk in gradually, over the next few years.

''I think what made me realise how bad it was, was when he couldn't do the same things any more. I used to love kicking the footy with him, and he couldn't do that any more. Then to see him in hospital, lying in the bed, you knew what was going to happen and that it wasn't getting any better from there,'' he said. ''He was my role model. I did everything with him, and then it was all gone. And to see Mum deal with that, to have to get rid of the morphine and basically let him go, I'll never forget that too.''

Things felt tough, from there. Fiona moved her four kids to Euroa, where her mother had a house. She started working three jobs - at a nursing home, an egg factory and in a pizza shop - and studied nursing in her spare time. It meant not seeing her three boys and their little sister as much as she wanted to, but that was the sacrifice she made. ''It's hard, but you have to do it, don't you?'' she said. ''I was thinking: 'I've got four kids to bring up now. How am I going to do this on my own?'''

Jamie, she said, never gave her a moment's trouble. Of the four kids, he was the most thoughtful, bright but quiet. ''He took a lot on. He might not realise how much he took on when he was 10,'' she said. ''He didn't talk about it all that much and he never broke down about it, but he grew up pretty fast.''

He didn't care about things - anything - as much as he had used to. ''When Dad was sick we got away with more than we used to and after he passed it was just mum and she was working a lot of the time, so I got into some bad habits. I started wagging school, just not turning up, not caring any more and when Mum realised what was going on it was a pretty tough time for us,'' he said.

''I think I cherish her more now and respect what she's been through and done for us. I think with what we've all been through, it's brought us together and bonded us more as a family.''

Both of Elliott's brothers live in Queensland. His sister Caitlyn, 18, helps her mum in running the pizza and fish and chip shop, and so does Jamie when he makes it home, like he did briefly this week. Fiona watched him chase down Eagles, then jump all over them, from her uncle's place last Sunday, and loved every second of it.

Elliott can't change what has happened in his life, but doesn't spend too much time wishing he could. ''Of course there are things you would change. Obviously there are, but you can't do that. I think that maybe all these things have come together to make me a better person. At the time, you can only think about how hard it is. But now, I know I want to make the most of things.''

6 comments so far

  • Sad, yet inspiring story. Based on the handful of games he's played so far, sure looks like Jamie has a great future ahead of him. Good luck.

    Commenter
    Fred
    Date and time
    June 29, 2012, 9:52AM
    • The young lad desreves to succeed.

      Commenter
      George K
      Date and time
      June 29, 2012, 10:08AM
      • Good on you Jamie. Loved your game last week. 10+ player at the 'pies I hope!

        Commenter
        CGC
        Location
        Geelong
        Date and time
        June 29, 2012, 10:23AM
        • Jamie, stick with it, there are some reminders of my son's life in your story; despite what's happened to him, and his mistakes, he's been always cheerful, and full on when he knuckles down.
          Jamie, you remind me of Paul Kelly, ex Brownlow medallist of the Swans. He would probably be the most courageous and determined player ever to have played AFL footy (Michael Voss, the best actual player to have ever played the game, was his equal). Paul was a terrier, never say die, hard at it all the time, all out attacker of the footy and an opponent. You aren't as tall as him, but you have more skill and zing than Paul Kelly.
          You have a great future Jamie, just keep doing what you do now, enjoy the game.
          You, and Calaum Mooney add that extra pace we need in a substantially one pace midfield.

          Commenter
          Tezza's wisdom
          Location
          Melbourne
          Date and time
          June 29, 2012, 12:49PM
          • another great recruit with a great attitude his mum should be congratulated

            Commenter
            open thy eyes
            Date and time
            June 29, 2012, 3:29PM
            • Each life has its own story. Jamie, noone needs to inspire you or pat you on the back, all you will ever need to do is remember the sacrifices that your mum has made and to continue to make her proud. Thankyou for joining our "little family" at Collingwood and all the best for the future.

              ps. Great story, well told Emma Quayle.

              Commenter
              robroy
              Location
              surfcoast
              Date and time
              July 02, 2012, 11:52PM

              Make a comment

              You are logged in as [Logout]

              All information entered below may be published.

              Error: Please enter your screen name.

              Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

              Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

              Error: Please enter your comment.

              Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

              Post to

              You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

              Thank you

              Your comment has been submitted for approval.

              Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

              Related Coverage

              AFL 2015

              Round 1
              Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
              CAR 78 vs RIC 105 Report Stats
              Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
              MEL 115 vs GCF 89 Stats
              SYD 72 vs ESS 60 Stats
              BRI 74 vs COL 86 Stats
              WBU 97 vs WCE 87 Stats
              Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
              STK 78 vs GWS 87 Stats
              ADE 140 vs NTH 63 Stats
              FRE 75 vs PTA 68 Stats
              Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
              HAW 123 vs GEE 61 Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 2
              Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
              WCE 131 vs CAR 62 Stats
              Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
              RIC 66 vs WBU 85 Report Stats
              GWS 101 vs MEL 56 Stats
              COL 63 vs ADE 90 Report Stats
              GCF 76 vs STK 104 Stats
              PTA 44 vs SYD 92 Stats
              Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
              GEE 60 vs FRE 104 Stats
              ESS 78 vs HAW 76 Stats
              NTH 133 vs BRI 51 Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 3
              Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
              COL 140 vs STK 66 Stats
              Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
              CAR 84 vs ESS 105 Stats
              ADE 80 vs MEL 55 Stats
              SYD 111 vs GWS 90 Report Stats
              NTH 105 vs PTA 113 Stats
              BRI 58 vs RIC 137 Stats
              Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
              HAW 127 vs WBU 57 Stats
              GEE 105 vs GCF 96 Stats
              WCE 81 vs FRE 111 Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 4
              Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
              RIC 51 vs MEL 83 Stats
              Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
              STK 81 vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
              ESS 49 vs COL 69 Report Stats
              GWS 119 vs GCF 53 Stats
              PTA 99 vs HAW 91 Stats
              FRE 74 vs SYD 60 Stats
              Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
              BRI 65 vs WCE 118 Stats
              GEE 67 vs NTH 83 Stats
              WBU 125 vs ADE 68 Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 5
              Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
              CAR 45 vs COL 120 Stats
              Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
              RIC 76 vs GEE 85 Stats
              SYD 73 vs WBU 77 Stats
              GCF 118 vs BRI 54 Stats
              NTH 70 vs HAW 130 Stats
              WCE 120 vs GWS 33 Stats
              Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
              MEL 50 vs FRE 118 Stats
              STK 80 vs ESS 82 Stats
              ADE 91 vs PTA 115 Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 6
              Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
              COL 59 vs GEE 100 Stats
              Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
              NTH 109 vs RIC 74 Stats
              WBU 87 vs STK 94 Stats
              GWS 108 vs HAW 98 Stats
              GCF 78 vs ADE 119 Stats
              MEL 50 vs SYD 88 Stats
              FRE 80 vs ESS 52 Stats
              Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
              CAR 75 vs BRI 84 Report Stats
              PTA 68 vs WCE 78 Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 7
              Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
              ESS 82 vs NTH 93 Stats
              Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
              ADE 119 vs STK 73 Stats
              HAW 155 vs MEL 50 Stats
              CAR 57 vs GWS 135 Stats
              SYD 120 vs GEE 77 Stats
              WCE 135 vs GCF 43 Stats
              Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
              WBU 88 vs FRE 101 Stats
              RIC 105 vs COL 100 Report Stats
              BRI 102 vs PTA 65 Report Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 8
              Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
              GEE 140 vs CAR 63 Report Stats
              Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
              STK 78 vs WCE 131 Report Stats
              GWS 108 vs ADE 84 Report Stats
              GCF 63 vs COL 132 Report Stats
              HAW 69 vs SYD 73 Report Stats
              FRE 115 vs NTH 42 Report Stats
              Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
              ESS 136 vs BRI 78 Report Stats
              MEL 103 vs WBU 64 Report Stats
              PTA 43 vs RIC 76 Report Stats
              View All Fixtures
              Round 9
              Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
              SYD vs CAR 19:50SCG
              Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
              HAW vs GCF 13:45AS
              MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
              WBU vs GWS 16:35ES
              RIC vs ESS 19:20MCG
              ADE vs FRE 19:40Adelaide Oval
              Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
              BRI vs STK 13:10G
              COL vs NTH 15:20MCG
              WCE vs GEE 16:40Domain Stadium
              View All Fixtures
              Round 10
              Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
              FRE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
              Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
              CAR vs ADE 13:40MCG
              GCF vs SYD 16:35MS
              ESS vs GEE 19:20ES
              PTA vs WBU 19:40Adelaide Oval
              Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
              GWS vs BRI 13:10Spotless Stadium
              NTH vs WCE 15:20BA
              STK vs HAW 16:40ES
              Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
              MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
              View All Fixtures
              Round 11
              Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
              PTA vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
              Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
              GCF vs FRE 13:40MS
              WCE vs ESS 16:35Domain Stadium
              NTH vs SYD 19:20ES
              Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
              COL vs GWS 13:10MCG
              STK vs MEL 16:40ES
              View All Fixtures
              Round 12
              Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
              ADE vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
              Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
              RIC vs WCE 19:50MCG
              Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
              CAR vs PTA 13:40MCG
              GWS vs NTH 16:35Spotless Stadium
              WBU vs BRI 19:20ES
              Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
              GEE vs MEL 15:20SS
              View All Fixtures
              Round 13
              Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
              FRE vs COL 20:10Domain Stadium
              Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
              SYD vs RIC 19:50SCG
              Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
              HAW vs ESS 13:40MCG
              BRI vs ADE 16:35G
              STK vs WBU 19:20ES
              Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
              CAR vs GCF 15:20ES
              View All Fixtures
              Round 14
              Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
              SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
              Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
              COL vs HAW 19:50MCG
              Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
              RIC vs GWS 13:40MCG
              GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
              WBU vs CAR 19:20ES
              MEL vs WCE 19:40TIO
              Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
              ESS vs STK 13:10ES
              ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
              FRE vs BRI 16:40Domain Stadium
              View All Fixtures
              Round 15
              Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
              PTA vs COL 19:50Adelaide Oval
              Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
              RIC vs CAR 19:50MCG
              Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
              ESS vs MEL 13:40MCG
              WBU vs GCF 16:35CAZ
              NTH vs GEE 19:20ES
              WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
              Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
              GWS vs STK 13:10Spotless Stadium
              HAW vs FRE 15:20AS
              BRI vs SYD 16:40G
              View All Fixtures
              Round 16
              Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
              NTH vs ESS 19:50ES
              Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
              GEE vs WBU 13:45SS
              GCF vs GWS 14:10MS
              COL vs WCE 16:35ES
              SYD vs HAW 19:20ANZ
              FRE vs CAR 19:40Domain Stadium
              Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
              MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
              PTA vs ADE 15:20Adelaide Oval
              STK vs RIC 16:40ES
              View All Fixtures
              Round 17
              Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
              CAR vs HAW 19:50ES
              Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
              GWS vs GEE 13:45SO
              ADE vs GCF 14:10Adelaide Oval
              RIC vs FRE 16:35MCG
              ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
              BRI vs NTH 19:20G
              Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
              WBU vs COL 13:10ES
              MEL vs STK 15:20MCG
              WCE vs SYD 16:40Domain Stadium
              View All Fixtures
              Round 18
              Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
              HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
              Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
              GEE vs BRI 13:45SS
              COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
              SYD vs ADE 16:35SCG
              CAR vs NTH 19:20ES
              GCF vs WCE 19:20MS
              Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
              PTA vs STK 13:10Adelaide Oval
              ESS vs WBU 15:20ES
              FRE vs GWS 16:40Domain Stadium
              View All Fixtures
              Round 19
              Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
              ADE vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
              Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
              COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
              WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
              BRI vs GCF 16:35G
              GEE vs SYD 19:20SS
              WCE vs HAW 19:40Domain Stadium
              Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
              MEL vs NTH 13:10MCG
              GWS vs ESS 15:20Spotless Stadium
              STK vs FRE 16:40ES
              View All Fixtures
              Round 20
              Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
              SYD vs COL 19:50SCG
              Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
              ESS vs ADE 13:45ES
              NTH vs STK 14:10BA
              PTA vs GWS 16:35Adelaide Oval
              GEE vs HAW 19:20MCG
              BRI vs CAR 19:20G
              Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
              RIC vs GCF 13:10MCG
              WBU vs MEL 15:20ES
              FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
              View All Fixtures
              Round 21
              Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
              HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
              Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
              COL vs RIC 13:45MCG
              GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
              GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
              STK vs GEE 19:20ES
              ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
              Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
              NTH vs FRE 13:10ES
              CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
              WCE vs WBU 16:40Domain Stadium
              View All Fixtures
              Round 22
              Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
              GEE vs COL 19:50MCG
              Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
              GWS vs CAR 13:45Spotless Stadium
              HAW vs BRI 14:10AS
              NTH vs WBU 16:35ES
              ESS vs RIC 19:20MCG
              GCF vs PTA 19:20MS
              Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
              ADE vs WCE 13:10Adelaide Oval
              STK vs SYD 15:20ES
              FRE vs MEL 16:40Domain Stadium
              View All Fixtures
              Round 23
              Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
              COL vs ESS 00:00MCG
              RIC vs NTH 00:00ES
              HAW vs CAR 00:00MCG
              GEE vs ADE 00:00SS
              SYD vs GCF 00:00SCG
              MEL vs GWS 00:00ES
              BRI vs WBU 00:00G
              PTA vs FRE 00:30Adelaide Oval
              WCE vs STK 02:00Domain Stadium
              View All Fixtures
              AFL 2015
              Overall standings
              Team P W L D % Pts
              Fremantle 8 8 0 0 155.29 32
              West Coast Eagles 8 6 2 0 158.17 24
              Sydney Swans 8 6 2 0 127.36 24
              GWS Giants 8 6 2 0 118.87 24
              Collingwood 8 5 3 0 129.90 20
              Adelaide Crows 8 5 3 0 116.32 20
              Hawthorn 8 4 4 0 145.81 16
              Richmond 8 4 4 0 107.64 16
              View all
               
              Featured advertisers