Fallen AFL champion Brian Lake returns to Hawthorn in their 10-year premiership reunion

Hawthorn kicked off the 10th anniversary of its 2013 AFL premiership with an official reunion – albeit without the presence of some of the club’s biggest names.

The Hawks held their first consecutive flag commemoration event in Melbourne on Tuesday night.

Premiership captain Luke Hodge and current senior coach Sam Mitchell took part in a panel discussion, along with experienced goalscorer Jarryd Roughead and Norm Smith Medalist Brian Lake.

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Lake’s public appearance is the latest step in his recovery from alcohol problems and mental health issues, as well as separate court appearances on stalking and assault charges.

The three-time premiership player was also held by police for almost a week in Japan in 2018 following an alleged bar brawl.

Lake, now 41, then visited psychiatric hospitals at home and abroad.

“I’ve made a few mistakes and I’ll put my hand up and say, ‘Yeah, I did that,’ but I think people deserve a second chance,” he told the Sacked podcast in 2022.

“I have held back in recent years. I’ve been heavily involved in local football and the people around me have seen the change, but everyone deserves a second chance. It wasn’t easy to raise your hand and say, ‘I need help,’ because you can be in denial for quite a while.”

Brian Lake won the Norm Smith Medal in his first year at Hawthorn. Credit: David Crosling/AAP

Lake is now a mainstay at his “second home” Caroline Springs Football Club, playing last year and coaching in 2023.

“I would like to play football full-time, but unfortunately if you make a few mistakes it is difficult to get back into that area,” he said.

“That’s why I put everything back into local football because that’s where I’ll be for the next 15 to 20 years.”

Lake was among several big names no longer associated with Hawthorn who attended the Prime Minister’s reunion on Tuesday evening.

Roughead is based at St Kilda, where Bradley Hill plays, while Isaac Smith recently retired after winning a fourth flag in 2022 following his brave move to Geelong.

Significantly, only two of North Melbourne’s former Hawthorn figures were featured – Liam Shiels and Josh Gibson.

Hawks premiership coach Alastair Clarkson was absent as the fallout from the racism saga continues.

“He obviously has his reasons for it, I think they’re well documented,” Shaun Burgoyne said before the event.

“That’s all you can understand, he has his reasons for it. At some point he will catch up with the players and cross paths in football.

“The footy world is a small world, you see each other all the time, so we will have a beer with him without a doubt.”

Cyril Rioli was absent for similar reasons, Jack Gunston was ruled out due to preparations for the grand final in Brisbane, while Lance Franklin was a no-show after a mysterious preparation.

“I actually don’t know if he’s coming. It will be nice to see him there, I’m not sure,” Burgoyne said.

“But we have some catching up to do – there is another meeting with players (on Wednesday evening) where we can remember the old days.”

Burgoyne was confident that the absence of Clarkson and Rioli would not dampen the celebrations.

“They definitely have their reasons for not attending and we will both support them,” he said.

“It’s their personal reasons. But the people who are here, we will celebrate 2013, which is a massive club achievement – not just the players on the pitch but the attitude of the whole club to get to this Premier League.”

The Sydney co-captain underwent shoulder surgery after wrestling with a teammate.

The Sydney co-captain underwent shoulder surgery after wrestling with a teammate.

James Brien

James Brien is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. James Brien joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: jamesbrien@24ssports.com.

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