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Lake's legacy: Is Brian the best bargain?

Brian Lake highlights Watch some of Brian Lake's best highlights for Hawthorn after retiring on Tuesday morning.

THE best bargain of all?

It’s the question that needs answering after Brian Lake announced his retirement from AFL football after 251 matches.

Drafted at pick 71 in the 2001 AFL Draft, the 33-year-old’s decorated career included 197 games with the Western Bulldogs and 54 with Hawthorn.

Plus three premierships. Two All Australian guernseys. A club best and fairest at the Bulldogs. A Norm Smith Medal.

There’s no doubting Lake will be remembered as one of the best key defenders of his generation, and one of its great characters.

He jokingly refers to himself as the “best bargain” – and after three years at Hawthorn for three premierships, it’s hard logic to argue against.

“For the last three years, to live the dream, to play in three premierships, to meet so many wonderful people, it’s changed me not just on the field but off the field into a better person,” Lake said when he called time on his career on Tuesday morning.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute that I’ve been here.

“I would have loved to have kept going, but always some things have got to come to an end and I’m happy with that.” 

After 11 seasons with the Bulldogs, Lake joined the Hawks at the end of 2012.

It was a tough decision, but time for a new beginning, a decision made on the back of two injury affected seasons and by the lure of winning premierships.

“I spoke to Marty (Pask), my manager back in 2012. I thought my days were numbered at the Bulldogs and I thought I needed a change to go and strive to win a premiership. That’s what every AFL player wants to do,” Lake said. 

“I guess we pressed the reset button with (Hawks’ Head Fitness Coach) Andrew Russell and Bart (Physio Andrew Lambart) and we started over.

“Pretty much as soon as I came over here on I think it was the Monday or Tuesday of trade week, I was in the gym straight after, starting pre-season.

“It hasn’t been a thing that’s just happened, it’s taken a fair while to get to and I’ve been able to play 22 games this year as a 33-year-old I’m reasonably happy with.” 

By his own admission it’s been an “interesting career”.

It was a “love-hate relationship” with former Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade, who now coaches Gold Coast Suns, which helped him reach the peak of his powers. 

“He probably got the best out of me,” Lake said.

“He gave me the confidence to back myself and back my abilities, which I did. I live and die by the sword and Rocket used to give it to me a fair bit… Rocket enjoyed that for three years as well.”

In 2007, Lake won the Sutton Medal as the Bulldogs’ best player. Two years later in 2009 he was an All Australian, a feat he backed up the following year. 

His move to the Hawks was vindicated in 2013, his first season with the club. He played 20 games, and starred in the club’s grand final triumph against Fremantle, winning the Norm Smith Medal.

Lake said he was privileged to play alongside his defensive teammates at Hawthorn.  

“Playing in the back six with so many good players (guys like), Gibbo, Stratts, Birch, Shaun (Burgoyne) and Luke Hodge at stages as well… you come and slide into a side like that and just know that you don’t have to do anything extraordinary in the game, that you’ve just got to play your role in the structure of the back six,” he said.

He plans to play at local level next year, “most likely Caroline Springs… if the price is right,” and it’s fair to say Brian’s obsessed with his bargains.

He’s acknowledged the move to Hawthorn “cost me a bit with the etag” driving from Caroline Springs to Waverley Park for the past three years.

But it’s been well worth it.



 

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The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs