Johncock happy to be home

FAMILY CLUB: Former AFL star Graham Johncock with Peckers juniors Trasen Pickett-Carbine, Craig Miller, Russel Pickett-Carbine, Barry Johncock III, Harry Miller III, Ethan Richards, Barry Dunnett and Zacky Young. Johncock returns to the Mallee Park Football Club this year after a 13-year career with the Adelaide Crows.
FAMILY CLUB: Former AFL star Graham Johncock with Peckers juniors Trasen Pickett-Carbine, Craig Miller, Russel Pickett-Carbine, Barry Johncock III, Harry Miller III, Ethan Richards, Barry Dunnett and Zacky Young. Johncock returns to the Mallee Park Football Club this year after a 13-year career with the Adelaide Crows.
COMING HOME: Graham Johncock returns to the Mallee Park Football Club this year after a 13-year, 227 game career with the Adelaide Crows.

COMING HOME: Graham Johncock returns to the Mallee Park Football Club this year after a 13-year, 227 game career with the Adelaide Crows.

FORMER Adelaide Crows star Graham Johncock is back home in Port Lincoln and eager to pull on the green and gold Mallee Park guernsey in an A grade match for the first time since 1999.

The 227-game Crows veteran retired mid way through the 2013 AFL season, saying his body simply could not handle "the pressures and rigours of AFL football".

"My body just wasn't up to it," Mr Johncock said.

"I could only tolerate so much."

The now 31-year-old finished his career at West Lakes as the ninth highest games player of the Adelaide Football Club, accumulating a phenomenal 227 games and 120 goals.

"Not everyone can say they've played 200 games of league footy," Mr Johncock said.

"I'm happy with what I've achieved, I'm satisfied with my career."

When the time came to end his AFL career, Mr Johncock always knew he wanted to move back to Port Lincoln and raise his young family in the same place and the same way that he was raised.

"I've always kept strong family and community ties here.

"Moving back home was always going to happen," Mr Johncock said.

Mr Johncock said moving home was always in the back of his mind throughout his AFL career, and he made the decision very early on.

However, the temptation to retire early to be back with his friends and family never affected him, and he feels he retired at the right time, for the right reasons.

"When you know, you know, and the club was very supportive," Mr Johncock said.

The move home was a busy process, and he was very thankful for the help he received from his friends and family.

"We sold up in Adelaide and loaded up the trailers," he said.

"It was a big effort, but now it's very relaxing to be home."

When asked what he loved most about being back home, Mr Johncock spoke about his favourite leisure activities as well as his new job with West Coast Youth and Community Support (WCYCS).

"I love my camping, fishing and hunting," Mr Johncock said.

"I'm also getting used to nine to five work, and it's very rewarding."

Mr Johncock is employed by West Coast Youth and Community Support as a youth worker, and he has been involved in a new juvenile diversion program called the Breakout Program.

The program is a three-component system, focused on young people's well-being, participation in activities, and getting them engaged in the community through work experience.

WCYCS chief executive officer Joanne Clark said Mr Johncock's status as a former professional footballer made him a great role model for the kids to aspire to.

"Graham has fitted in to the team extremely well, the professionalism and work ethics that enabled Graham to have a high profile football career at an elite level have crossed over into his role at our organisation," Ms Clark said.

"As a youth worker, Graham's role is to walk with young people in their challenges and triumphs and provide supportive and educational programs designed to foster behavioural change."

Ms Clark said they had responded really well to Mr Johncock's involvement and she had received a lot of positive feedback about him.

"Graham is an amazing young ambassador for the community who exemplifies the results of commitment and dedication in pursuing your goals.

"He brings this inspiration to the young people he works with in his role," Ms Clark said.

Mr Johncock is also doubling his mentoring role as a junior coach at the Mallee Park Football Club where he is in charge of the under 15s.

He will also make his triumphant return to the Peckers A grade this year, for first time since 1999 when he was 16.

"There's been great numbers over the pre-season," Mr Johncock said.

"I've brought in some new drills and they've taken well to it."

He said he didn't know if he would have any involvement in this year's Mortlock Carnival.

"I'm not sure at this stage, I just want to get settled and do my bit," he said.

Over his career, Mr Johncock said he'd had many role models and mentors, but none greater than the 340-game Adelaide Crows veteran Andrew McLeod.

"I remember walking through the doors (of the football club) for the first time.

"He was the first person to come up to me and say welcome."

Mr Johncock said McLeod taught him a lot about professionalism, as well as social, eating and training habits, and had an extremely positive influence on his career.

"He always kept me on the right path."

As Mr Johncock started to grow in to an older and more experienced member of the football club, he began using his knowledge to mentor younger players, like Jared Petrenko.

"Jared came to the club not knowing much about his (indigenous) culture," Mr Johncock said.

"I helped him understand, which gave him a sense of ownership."

Mr Johncock said he had been lucky to have had such a successful career in football and now he wanted to do his bit and "give back to the community".

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