Travis Cloke calls time on AFL career

Oct 25, 2017 - 5:58 AM Footy was Travis Cloke's greatest love and greatest hate during one of the most scrutinised AFL careers in recent memory.

But the 30-year-old is preparing for a life beyond football after falling out of favour with the Western Bulldogs, where his attempt to recapture his best form ultimately proved unsuccessful.

Cloke on Wednesday announced his retirement, having played 256 games and booted 452 career goals.

A hulking key forward who was recruited by Collingwood as a father-son selection, Cloke played in the Magpies' 2010 premiership side and was their leading goalkicker for four consecutive seasons.

Critics were never far away however, with Cloke's wayward kicking in front of goal a subject of particular scrutiny.

The dual All-Australian was traded to the Bulldogs at the end of last season but grappled with mental health issues and inconsistent form, playing just 10 games and falling behind other forwards in the pecking order.

He said he would retire with mixed feelings towards the game given the harsh glare of public expectation that followed him throughout his career.

"Sometimes three or four times in a day, you can fall in and out of love with footy," he told reporters.

"It's a game that I grew up with. My day played, my brothers played. I've been involved with Collingwood since I did work experience as a 14-year-old kid there.

"I don't know any different. Footy's my love. Footy's the thing I hate most, but at the same time I'll always go back to it."

List manager Jason McCartney on Wednesday said the Bulldogs' recent trade period - including the recruitment of young key forward Josh Schache - had led the club to hold talks with Cloke about his future.

With a year still left to run on his deal, Cloke had wanted to play on but accepted he was unlikely to earn senior selection, adding that contracts didn't appear to mean much in the modern game.

One of several players to take time away from the sport to deal with mental health issues this season, Cloke said he had struggled to filter out the nasty personal abuse that followed him on social media.

"Mentally and physically, I was a wreck," he said.

"I feel sorry for the kids that are coming through now.

"You can pick your phone up - we've all got them - they're amazing devices but at the same time they're bloody s*** for what they can do."

Cloke said he was keen to remain involved in the football industry, potentially in a development coaching role.

But his immediate focus will be on becoming a father for the first time, with wife Becky due to give birth to a baby girl next week.

Fellow veteran Stewart Crameri was also delisted by the Bulldogs on Wednesday, having played 42 games at Whitten Oval since switching from Essendon.

Source: AAP

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