It’s been a massive week in the Embley household.
Saturday night was the last time we will ever get to watch Andrew run out and proudly represent the blue and gold. It’s such a bizarre feeling.
As soon as Andrew finished school he was drafted pick 57 to the West Coast Eagles. He went from being given one timetable to adhering to another. From Monday through to Sunday, from school to football, his day’s were planned out for him on a piece of paper.
Andrew and I have been together 11 years this September and when we first met he didn’t own a car or a mobile phone. Crazy for a 21 yrs old yes, but that was Andrew.
We spent our 3 week anniversary in Phuket and when we got back home he moved right on in. I remember when the call came from the club to say that there was an offer on the table to trade Andrew to Port Adelaide and that they were seriously considering it.
You should have seen his face. He looked at me and said “would you come with me”? We had only been together for 4 or so weeks but when he asked me to go and I said of course, we just knew that we would be a forever thing.
He took about 24 hours to process what was actually going on. Moving away from home to another state, to another club, but what hurt the most was the reality that the club were looking into trading him not because they didn’t believe in his ability as a footballer but because they didn’t believe they could trust his antics off the field.
Once the reality set in he was immediately on the front foot. He wanted to stay, he wanted to become the best footballer he could be, the best person he could be and he knew that the West Coast Eagles was the club for him to do it at.
He took this opportunity by the balls and did just that. 15yrs, premiership, norm smith medal and 250 game player, we couldn’t possibly be any prouder.
Along with the accolades of playing football came this amazing opportunity for Andrew to really indulge himself in the family life. 10 weeks off at the end of a season and the ability to pop home most days for lunch gave him ample time to spend with us and helped forge him into the amazing father he is today. Cooking, cleaning, nappies, bedtime, you name it he does it. The only thing I have been able to keep sacred is breastfeeding!
Football has been a massive part of Andrew’s life over the past 15 years and it has also been a massive part of mine. It’s a profession that takes a 24hr commitment from the whole family.
Eating, sleeping, punctuality, adhering to strict off field rules and scrutiny were only a small part of the support that we had to give Andrew. And of course there were plenty of upsides too. We got to share success, a premiership and fabulous holidays for 10 weeks of the year as a family but most of all I was able to watch my husband in a job that made him happy.
When Andrew decided to retire I will admit it took me by surprise. I had spent the last 4 years having babies but I had also been very focused on trying to set up our life for ‘life after football’. I had heard the depression rate of ex-footballers was high and amongst other major adjustments I just wanted to be ready and prepared to soften the blow for Andrew for when that day finally arrived.
As much as we probably are prepared, I didn’t feel like I was quite there yet. When Andrew said the words ‘thinking about retiring’ I knew he had made his mind up as this was his decision to make, not something that was up for discussion.
The formula a footballer needs to be successful is essential. Fitness, skills, performance and above all passion. When one of those key ingredients is lacking then your world as a footballer starts to become in question.
So the casual question is asked of us all the time. “What is Andrew going to do after football”? I say casual because we mostly get asked it in that manner. You see, not many people out there have been able to do a job that they LOVED for all of their adult life. And if they have been lucky enough to do so then I doubt many of them have been told they have to quit and find some something else they would love to do.
We waited patiently for Andrew to get the OK to play in the last game of his career, in his 250’th game for the West Coast Eagles. When the phone call came the sigh we felt was a sigh of utter relief. He no longer had to play down what it actually meant for him to play in that one last game, he could be nothing but focused and excited.
It was so special to be able to share that day with the kids. I hope they were old enough to remember that moment, running out with their dad to say one last goodbye to the game that he loves so much.
As we left the game that night we couldn’t help but giggle at each other in the car on the way home. I’m don’t know if they were giggles of relief or giggles of excitement for what was to come.
It’s going to be a massive change for Andrew. No more timetables, no more seeing all of your mates everyday. No more of that insane adrenalin rush he gets when he runs out in front of a 30,000 strong crowd.
I have loved every minute I’ve shared with Andrew and the West Coast Eagles. They are another family to us. We have made some of our best friends along the way and I continue to admire the amazing support they offer to not only their staff and players but their retired players too.
I CAN”T WAIT to see what the future holds for the Embley’s. I am dreaming of love, happiness and an Embley Empire.
What a ride it has been. And as the saying goes “this isn’t the end, this is only the beginning”.