Old Gold: Tyson Goldsack’s AFL return

Tyson Goldsack. Picture: portadelaidefc.com.au

The news last week that Port Adelaide was considering drafting retired Collingwood premiership player, Tyson Goldsack, was met with surprise and shock.

In a climate where many talented people in the industry are losing their jobs, the 33-year old’s return shines through as one of the great stories of the year.

While the news was surprising, it really shouldn’t be when considering the individual involved.

Goldsack has had anything but a conventional career, having to overcome numerous setbacks and obstacles across his football journey.

Much like his style of play, he had to scrap for every one of his 165 AFL games.

The veteran utility being recruited by the minor premiers is unexpected in Thursday’s AFL Rookie Draft, but perfectly suits a man who has made a career out of defying the odds.

Taken with pick 63 in the 2006 National Draft, Goldsack was an after-thought at the time when compared to fellow Collingwood draftees Ben Reid and Nathan Brown, who were both selected in the top 10.

But despite this, Goldsack broke into the team in his first year at the club, playing 17 games in a side that fell just one goal short in the Preliminary Final against Geelong.

He emerged as a tough team-orientated defender who took on the likes of Buddy Franklin and Michael O’Loughlin, earning a Rising Star nomination for his game against the latter and the Harry Collier Trophy as Collingwood’s best first-year player.

Goldsack would go on to establish himself as a handy utility who could play at either end of the ground. 

He was never a lock in the best 22 and battled niggling injuries, but always gave his all whenever he was selected.

He was dropped for the 2010 Grand Final after playing in the Preliminary Final, but fate has a funny way of playing out. 

In the aftermath of the infamous draw, Goldsack was one of the only people on either side happy with the result, the door that had been shut on a lifelong childhood dream had unexpectedly swung back open. 

Captain Nick Maxwell recalls seeing Goldsack and fellow emergency Tarkyn Lockyer laughing and high fiving on a treadmill just hours after the game, which helped shift Maxwell’s mindset of the draw being an opportunity postponed, rather than an opportunity lost.

For Goldsack, it was an opportunity taken when he was recalled for the replay, marking his name in Collingwood’s record books as both a premiership player and cult hero of the club.

He famously kicked the first goal of the game, a result that no one except his mother predicted, who had the bet to prove it.

He continued to be a valuable player and excellent clubman, kicking 24 goals in the 2012 season and having a stint in the leadership group.

But 2016 looked like it could be the end for Goldsack, after only playing four games that year due to a mixture of form and injuries. 

He rebounded in 2017 though, playing 20 games and reminding everyone of what a courageous player he was.  

This was best demonstrated when he played out a game against Fremantle with a fractured shoulder blade when Collingwood was already two players down on the bench.

Goldsack earned a new one-year deal, but doubt was again cast over his career when he ruptured his ACL on the eve of the 2018 season.

He was declared out for the year, with all immediate attention turning towards his playing future beyond that season, with no real weight given to the prospect of a miracle recovery.

But as Collingwood’s key defenders, Lynden Dunn, Darcy Moore, Matthew Scharenberg and Ben Reid, started dropping like flies throughout their 2018 campaign, the noise started to grow that Goldsack was on track to make an unlikely comeback.

He made his VFL return in late August, completing a remarkable recovery from football’s most feared injury in less than six months. 

The fairy-tale kept growing when Goldsack was selected for Collingwood’s Qualifying Final against West Coast, his first AFL game in over 12 months in the cauldron of Optus Stadium.

Despite taking on one of the game’s premier key forwards in Josh Kennedy, Goldsack applied the same dogged attitude that he had brought throughout his whole career to restrict the Eagles’ spearhead to just two goals.

While Collingwood lost that game, Goldsack continued to play a vital role in the team’s run to the Grand Final.

He was never a world-beater, and that was before he was a 31-year old coming off an ACL injury.

He played like a wily old fighter, someone who knew his limitations and didn’t punch above weight, but continually hounded and harassed his opponent. 

Goldsack and the team couldn’t secure the dream finish after falling to West Coast by just five points in the Grand Final, but his effort and heart will never be forgotten. 

The Grand Final was Goldsack’s last game for the club, he was unable to gain selection in 2019 and retired at the end of the season. 

He joined Port Adelaide as a development coach and the club’s SANFL captain, later working with the team’s backline group after Port withdrew from the SANFL.

Despite no longer appearing on the field, he still furthered his reputation as one of the “good guys” of footy.

He was the instigator behind Port Adelaide’s popular post-match drum celebration and held up a cardboard sign outside Adelaide Oval welcoming former teammates Lynden Dunn and Tim Broomhead back from long-term injuries.

But now Goldsack finds himself with another shot at the AFL at age 33. 

On the surface the move happened so Port Adelaide can retain him as a coach who won’t count against the COVID slashed soft cap, play him in the SANFL and have depth at both ends of the ground.

If this is all it accomplishes then Goldsack will do more than an adequate job, but don’t be surprised if he adds another chapter to his already remarkable journey.

As someone who is renowned for defying the odds and making the most of half-chances, this next venture has all the makings of another incredible story for Goldsack.

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