Hawthorn great John Platten discusses heartbreaking health battle

With his unmistakeable mop of long, curly, flowing hair, John Platten was one of the most recognisable members of one of the great teams in AFL history.

Platten played 258 games with Hawthorn between 1986 and 1998, winning four flags alongside a host of individual honours, including a Brownlow Medal, five All-Australian nods and a place in the Hawks’ team of the century.

Watch every match of The 2023 Toyota AFL Finals Series before the Grand Final Live & Ad-Break Free During Play on Kayo Sports. Join now and start streaming instantly >

Sadly, he also suffered a series of head knocks – estimated to have incurred a frightening 36 concussions across his career – and it is having a massive impact on his life.

The 60-year-old and his wife Leanne have spoken out about the ways he has changed, with Leanne revealing she deals with “two Johns now”.

They also fear he is dealing with the degenerative brain disease called CTE or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which can only be diagnosed after death.

“He has changed a lot,” Leanne Platten said through tears on 7NEWS Spotlight. “His memory, he forgets things all the time.

Leanne and John Platten have spoken about his issues with repeat concussions. Photo: Matt LoxtonSource: News Corp Australia

“His temper, he has a very short temper. Never had that before, he was very easygoing. Just real little things will trigger him off … sorry, I’m very upset. Why am I doing this?”

John says he is aware of his mood swings and concedes Leanne tends to bear the brunt of it.

“I go through them and I say to myself ‘John, relax’. I take a deep breath and get myself back to normal,” he said.

“It doesn’t come out when I’m with people, friends and family. Probably Leanne gets the brunt of it because she’s with me 24/7.”

The 1989 grand final between Hawthorn and Geelong, when the league was still called the VFL, is infamous for a huge hit from Cat Mark Yeates on Hawthorn hardman Dermott Brereton.

John and Leanne Platten alongside his former teammate Robert DiPierdomenico at the 2019 Australian Football Hall of Fame Dinner. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Photos)Source: Getty Images

There was another first-quarter incident in that match, however, that left Platten concussed and out of the game.

The ruck rover admits now he has no memory of that game, which is revered as one of the great contests in the history of the sport.

Gary Ablett kicked nine goals for the Cats but was on the end of a six-point defeat in front of 94,796 fans at the MCG.

“To go back and watch that the next day and see me run out and play … it was pretty tough because it was a pretty special time for the other blokes,” Platten said.

John Platten (far right) says he has no memory of this 1989 AFL grand final victory with the Hawks.Source: Supplied
Platten won four premierships with Hawthorn, including this victory over Melbourne in 1988.Source: Supplied

“And for me, I cannot remember it. I can’t remember going up to get my medal.

“I only played the (first) quarter and then I had to watch the game from the bench for the next three quarters, but I don’t remember.

“We talk about it now and we laugh about it, but deep down it does hurt.”

Leanne added it is a regular occurrence now for John to forgets things that have happened in the past, a common symptom of CTE.

“It is hard, it’s hard he doesn’t remember things and even now it’s just something we need to live with at the moment I think,” she said

“It’s not easy. It’s reality, really. We feel like we are in this.”

Lawyer Michel Margalit launched a class-action lawsuit in the Supreme Court of Victoria in March this year on behalf of footballers who suffered concussions and head knocks in the AFL between 1985 and 2023.

John Platten is among more than 100 footballers in the suit, with Margalit seeking more than $2 million in damages for some of those worst affected.

Margalit has stated that $1 billion is a realistic target overall for the suit.

Leanne Platten said she now has to live with two versions of her husband.

“My doctor told me I’m living with two Johns now, the old John and the new John,” she said. “You have to support him through his anger and his memory loss.”

Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top