Roughy is a story of perspective, a must-read of 2020 that’s much more than a footballer’s tale.
Cancer doesn’t discriminate.
When things were at their worst for Jarryd Roughead, his four premierships, two All-Australian gongs and a Coleman Medal counted for nothing. Being that rare footballer who was as loved by opposition fans as his own was no help either.
As he spent his days vomiting or curled up with the cat, and his nights in a pool of sweat, fully clothed yet freezing, rolling out of bed every couple of hours to dunk his feet in cold water to douse the feeling that they were on fire, all that mattered was that he didn’t stop believing.
Belief is one of those intangibles that puts great athletes above the pack. But this was no game. Roughead knew he had to keep believing he’d get better, otherwise he’d lose. And if he lost this battle, there would be no next week.
Roughy is the story of a footballer who lived the dream, the country boy who not only became an AFL star, but was a key player in a Hawthorn team that will be remembered as one of the greats of any era. Success didn’t change him, which made him all the more relatable, as if in spirit he was still having a kick with the Leongatha Parrots and a beer with his mates at the local pub.
When in 2015 a spot on his bottom lip was diagnosed as melanoma, we could relate to him all the more. When it returned as spots on his lungs the next year, the gravity we routinely attach to football’s wins and losses seemed ridiculous.
In Roughy, you’ll discover the resilience that got him through horrendous immunotherapy and helped him to not only play AFL again, but as Hawthorn captain. The same trait his forebears had in spades when they emigrated from Scotland, found no joy on the Victorian goldfields, so made their way to Gippsland and put down roots deep enough to have a Roughead St and Roughead Rd named after them (although the street signs have had a strange habit of disappearing over the years).
You’ll read the stories of his childhood, of the basketballer who switched sports and learned not just to believe, but to expect to be the very best. Of his love for Sarah and their daughter Pippa, his unwavering will to carry on, his dignity through a final chapter of his career that was dignity personified, with a fairytale ending that was celebrated by all.