It’s rare for ex-AFL footballers to find fulfilment on the field post-retirement but Allen Christensen’s stint with the Tiwi Bombers has a special meaning for the premiership Cat.
Christensen, who retired this season after a 133 game career with Geelong and the Brisbane Lions, debuted in the red and black on November 7 alongside former Port Adelaide player Jake Neade, with both men hitting the scoreboard in a 32 point loss to the Wanderers.
For Christensen, the debut was a significant one.
“It’s a huge honour and privilege to play for a team that represents my land,” he explained.
“That’s my group, that’s my mob and to be able to play for a team that actually represents them and putting on the jumper that includes the Tiwi artwork meant everything to me.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and it was the perfect time while I was fresh out of the system. I got to play with my brother Aaron and my cousin coaches so it was great to get up there for a run around.
“It’s one of the more thrilling moments I’ve had.”
While retirement for the man they call Bundy might have felt like it came at the right time, the 29-year-old admitted pulling on the boots for the Bombers gave him a sense a closure from professional footy.
“It was crazy and made (retirement) feel a bit more real after putting on a jumper for the first time in a while, but it put everything into perspective,” he said.
“It’s been a bit strange, like right now we’re looking for a new house and I said to our real estate agent the last 11 years I’ve been told what to do, when I’ve got to be somewhere then all of a sudden I’ve got to go ‘alright, you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that and get it done.’
“Lucky enough with my wife, if I’m being a bit lazy, she gives me a bit of a slap around the ears and say ‘get going Bundy’ so I’m very lucky in that sense.”
After being traded to the Brisbane Lions at the conclusion of the 2014 season, Christensen evolved into a selfless leader both on and off the field, so when it came time to call time on his career it was no surprise to anyone that he didn’t try and push his AFL tenure beyond what he felt he was capable of.
“Two or three weeks on from it I’m pretty happy with the decision and where it’s all going. The decision itself wasn’t that hard, especially when you’re not playing so the decision kind of manifests itself,” he said.
“It would have been great to have a 13 or 14 year career but where I was at in my life and with my footy just wasn’t matching up any more. When I was playing like I was last year then you come into this year and you’re out of the side, mentally it took a really big toll on the way I was thinking.
“It really started to affect my day-to-day life more than I wanted it to, so it felt like the decision sort of made itself.”
The charismatic Christensen was able to take the skills acquired from being a leader at the Lions and channel it into a productive outlet outside of the AFL system.
Launching the Addicted To The Game podcast alongside his brothers Aaron and Luke with long-time friend Jimmy Rayner back in 2019, the quartet tackle topics ranging from sport, music, current events and mental health with a touch of levity.
One of the main themes of the podcast deals with addiction, specifically centred on gambling.
Christensen opens up about his addiction issues with gambling on the podcast and delves into why he believes more needs to be done to help reduce the impacts of gambling advertising in Australia.
“I just don’t want people to go through the battles and the same issues that I had,” he explained.
“At the moment Australians get so bombarded with advertisements and sponsorships, which lends itself to breeding the next generation of people with issues with gambling.
“I just don’t want that for our younger generation because there’s so much going on in the world as it is, it can be pretty scary when you’re battling a full blown gambling addiction and you’re trying to live your day-to-day life.”
Christensen believes Australia needs to have an in depth look at the impacts of gambling and what it means to break the cycle of addiction that has afflicted generations of Aussies.
“A gambling addiction is something that people don’t really want to talk about, but at the same time when you’re talking gambling and a bloke losing a heap of money is kind of accepted in Australian culture and then a bloke who wins a lot of money is really highly celebrated,” he said.
“I’m just trying to change the conversation and I’ve got a lot of help around me, especially with the boys on the podcast people who have reached out to give information.
“But the conversation around gambling needs to have a different twist to it.”
You can find Addicted To The Game by clicking here or visiting wherever you get to your podcasts.