Craig Field back at Brookvale

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NRL 2023: Craig Field opens up on his emotional return to Manly​

Craig Field wasted the best years of his life, spending eight years in jail for manslaughter. Now 20 years since he last stepped foot onto Brookvale Oval, he returned to share his story.

Michael Carayannis and Brent Read

3 min read
February 22, 2023 - 7:43PM
News Corp Australia Sports Newsroom


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Craig Field walked through the doors at Brookvale Oval this week for the first time since his career ended two decades ago.
Much has changed for Field and the ground since that time. The former teenage prodigy was asked back to the club by former teammate turned chief executive Tony Mestrov to speak with players including Tom Trbojevic, Daly Cherry-Evans and coach Anthony Seibold about his rollercoaster career and tumultuous post-football life including his eight year stint in jail for manslaughter.
Craig Field returned to Brookvale Oval this week for the first time in 20 years. Picture: Alfred Naupoto (Manly Media).

Craig Field returned to Brookvale Oval this week for the first time in 20 years. Picture: Alfred Naupoto (Manly Media).
“I was nervous about it,” Field told News Corp.
“In our game there are a lot of good people who are good role models. If they’ve done everything right I take my hat off to them but how can they tell players who are thinking about gambling or doing the wrong thing not to? They are going to listen to someone who has been there before.
“I’ve walked that walk unfortunately. I’m not proud of it and I have a lot of regrets but I have to move forward.”
Field was in the headlines for all the right reasons early in his career. He captained the Rabbitohs and was considered among the best talents in the game when he joined the Sea Eagles in 1997 fresh off Manly winning the grand final.
However his career was chequered by off-field incidents and eventually ended when he tested positive for drugs while at the Tigers in 2001.
Field had the full attention of Manly players, as he opened up on his rollercoaster career and tumultuous post-football life. Picture: Alfred Naupoto (Manly Media).

Field had the full attention of Manly players, as he opened up on his rollercoaster career and tumultuous post-football life. Picture: Alfred Naupoto (Manly Media).
Field was released from jail in January 2022 after he was found guilty in 2014 of manslaughter in the fatal one punch death of Kelvin Kane.
“I was open and honest about everything,” Field said. “Rugby league was in my DNA and I sacrificed. When I made it I didn’t earn big dollars, my mind was switched on and my head was clear of a lot of things as a young bloke. But when I made it I started to mix with colourful characters and I learnt some bad habits. I didn’t have the mental toughness. I don’t want them to be like me and look back after 15-20 years and think what if. A real mate will tell you if you’re doing the wrong thing or doing down the wrong path.
“Why you’re a human you’re going to make errors. If you don’t have drink or drugs in your system you will make good decisions. If these players are smart they won’t have to work after their careers, unlike me. I’m now working six days a week. I’m not the only player of my generation to walk away with nothing – some good footballers and some good people have nothing and that breaks my heart.
“(Jail) is not a good place to be. Sometime I belittle myself because I’m putting myself down but it’s the truth. There are consequences for your actions.”
Field spent eight years in jail, after being sentenced in 2014 for manslaughter.

Field spent eight years in jail, after being sentenced in 2014 for manslaughter.
Former Manly greats including Brett Stewart and Steve Menzies are among the previous players to speak to group. It is part of Seibold’s initiative of a weekly presentation around either football education or Manly mentality aimed at Manly’s younger players. But some of their decorated superstars sat in on Field’s talk.
Seibold said he walked away with a powerful message.
“He shared his stories about what he would do differently if he was in the players’ shoes,” Seibold said. “Then the story about how your life can change in one moment. He had to live with that in jail. He was really raw and very emotional. It’s the first time he has done it. He has been out for about 13 months and it is the first time he has spoken in front of a group.”

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Sea Eagles skipper Cherry-Evans said Field was “brutally honest”.
“His key takeaway was about owning your decision as a person because every decision has a consequence,” Cherry-Evans said. “He made some decisions throughout his life and career that had a really negative impact on himself and the people around him.“

 

The DT has me stumped over it's 'no cookies no read' programming. Then I quickly remembered that it was the dt and I can't be bothered.

So lucky we have, and thanks to @DUFFMAN for posting the article. :)

I wonder, as a player, if you can say to the ceo or whoever is organising the talk that "no thanks, I don't want to listen to some coward who king hit and killed a farmer and only got 8 years for it?"
 
I actually think this was a good initiative, hopefully a reality check for our young players. From memory of the case Field never wanted to kill anyone he wanted to give a bloke a smack in the mouth but he fell and died, the 'one punch death'. I'm sure in some circles blokes still think it's the manly thing to go and punch someone you're arguing with. But there are consequences, not a bad lesson.
Anyway just my take
:)
 
I actually think this was a good initiative, hopefully a reality check for our young players. From memory of the case Field never wanted to kill anyone he wanted to give a bloke a smack in the mouth but he fell and died, the 'one punch death'. I'm sure in some circles blokes still think it's the manly thing to go and punch someone you're arguing with. But there are consequences, not a bad lesson.
Anyway just my take
:)
Maybe it would have been valuable for Manese to hear such a story a few years back?
 
The DT has me stumped over it's 'no cookies no read' programming. Then I quickly remembered that it was the dt and I can't be bothered.

So lucky we have, and thanks to @DUFFMAN for posting the article. :)

I wonder, as a player, if you can say to the ceo or whoever is organising the talk that "no thanks, I don't want to listen to some coward who king hit and killed a farmer and only got 8 years for it?"
Only if killing is against your religious beliefs
 
I really like the direction the club is headed. Clubs need to invest in these types initiatives. If you want a message to resonate with the squad scare them with the harsh reality of ramifications they someone has experienced first hand.
 
Yeah certainly an eye opener on falls from grace. He one of many Andrew Frew, Wayne Battrim and Brett Dallas, what's hard to players is once lights turn off to go back to normalcy.
One of my brothers friends played alot in nrl in mid 2000s and Uk superleague, he now 40 and still lost in life bounces from job to job, went to uni and still in and out of home with his parents.
 
Yeah certainly an eye opener on falls from grace. He one of many Andrew Frew, Wayne Battrim and Brett Dallas, what's hard to players is once lights turn off to go back to normalcy.
One of my brothers friends played alot in nrl in mid 2000s and Uk superleague, he now 40 and still lost in life bounces from job to job, went to uni and still in and out of home with his parents.
I wonder sometimes if a certain personality type that drives someone to succeed at the top level of rugby league can also be self destructive when not channeling their energy into something constructive.

You get your true professionals like Beaver, Daryl Halligan etc, “cleanskins” who never get into trouble on or off the field who seem to have even keels & are able to adapt to life after footy, but there seems to be a high rate of players who suffer demons during & after their careers.
 
I wonder sometimes if a certain personality type that drives someone to succeed at the top level of rugby league can also be self destructive when not channeling their energy into something constructive.

You get your true professionals like Beaver, Daryl Halligan etc, “cleanskins” who never get into trouble on or off the field who seem to have even keels & are able to adapt to life after footy, but there seems to be a high rate of players who suffer demons during & after their careers.
Yeah I think the machine of pro sports and inparticular heroes in certain markets nrl/afl Australia, nfl in USA, Europe soccer, they have this alura of being unstoppable and they can do anything.
There are cleanskins your beaver and hallighan as you discussed, look at Ben cousins, this with Craig field, Hayne then onto Nfl countless bad boys namely Aaron Hernandez
 
I think one of the things that should happen at all clubs , is education for the young players on all facets of life during and after football.

I remember having a chat to Jamie Lyon on one occasion and he told me he was lucky in that his manager also offered a financial service and so he decided real estate was where he’d build his post football income from.

So a relatively simple life , no flash cars , just a simple but comfortable house and pour every single dollar he could into buying, and amassing a real estate portfolio.

I’m guessing with the prices currently he may have unloaded many of those and made a fortune , good on him.

These young guys need to know that footy won’t last forever , and their incomes won’t be this high forever.

Life after footy is as important as being successful on the field.
 
Good on him. The guy ****ed up in a moment of madness and made a terrible live changing, life ending mistake. Punches have been thrown on footy fields and not one of those players would have been trying to murder the one on the receiving end, but it could have easily happened. Not sure if we will ever find out the full story of what happened that day. The victim was later found unconscious outside the pub so obviously there were no witnesses unless they saw it and just walked away and left him their to suffer. I have seen some real dog acts on the field, particularly from the likes of Sam Burgess. Russell Packer the grub could have easily killed that guy and yet he was back playing NRL a couple of years later. Craig Field made a mistake. One punch. Maybe the victim played his part. We will never know.
 

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