THE last couple of years for Ryan Crowley have been anything but smooth sailing – but a fresh start playing at the Swan Districts Football Club has given the midfielder a new lease on footy life.
The former Fremantle Football Club favourite completed an AFL imposed 12-month suspension, was then delisted by the Port club and just when he thought his AFL career was over, Essendon threw him a lifeline following the suspension of 12 of their senior players.
Now on the other side of it all, he’s back in Perth and ready to have a good season with his new teammates.
Admitting things were “definitely” different and something he was still getting used to, Crowley said he was loving his time at his new club and excited for what was to come.
“I just moved back to Perth in November and now I’m down here at Swans and it’s pretty exciting,” he said.
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind since I’ve been back, moving into a house and starting a new job.
“I was supposed to be at the Swans last year, but last year (at Essendon) was a great experience.
“They’re a great organisation, with great people and I learnt a lot over there but it’s good to be back in WA.
“It’s a whole different ball game, playing footy that’s not full-time; it’s my first time doing this and I’m getting the enjoyment back.”
The 32-year-old, who will this year coach Guildford Grammar School’s first 18 team, said he was looking forward to a new experience and would impart some of the things he had learnt along his football journey.
“I never thought I’d move into coaching, maybe a couple of years ago was probably the first time I’d ever considered it, it’s something I’m looking forward to,” he said.
“I’ve done a lot of work with a lot younger players, especially the younger players at Swans and last year I did some work with the Essendon midfielders.
“I take a lot of notes and there are things that I’ve written down (on coaching), style and things I’ve liked over the journey … so I’ll try to implement that into my coaching.”
Speaking of his 12-month ban for taking a banned substance in a painkiller not prescribed by the club doctor, Crowley said it was the hardest time of his life but one he had learnt a lot from.
“It was a very tough time and probably the toughest time of my life – probably right at the peak of my career – and having a year out was really difficult especially because of how well the boys (Fremantle Football Club) went that year (2015),” he said.
“I had done my time in the tough times and I felt it was our time to cash in and I felt like I was missing out, so that was really tough, but I’ve drawn a lot of positives from it too.
“I learnt a lot about the people around me, the people who really mean a lot to me that stuck by my side, and without it I would not have got the opportunity to go back and play for a Melbourne club.
“As much as I would have loved to finish my career at Fremantle – to play for a big Melbourne club, it was something different.”
As for the standing ovation the tagger received when he returned to Subiaco Oval last year to play against his old side, thinking of that moment still gives him goosebumps.
“I bled purple, I loved the club so much,” he said.
Looking forward, he said he hoped to help get the Swans back on track this season.
“I know everyone feels like they’re flying this time of year but I’m really confident we’ll have a good team for this year,” he said.