Mackie grateful now he’s at the top

Andrew Mackie is repaying the faith.

He’s giving back, on and off the field, to those who gave him support when he needed it the most.

He certainly hasn’t forgotten them.

In 2010, when the call was made to leave him out after the first final, he reached a crossroads in his career.

Always a creative half-back and beautiful user of the ball, when his defensive game slipped behind where it should have been, something had to give. It was then that he needed the support of those around him, and then that he also needed to help himself.

“When that time came I sat down and I thought ‘you know what, I’m going to work as hard on my game as I’ve ever done’ and I’ve actually done that,” Mackie said this week, having been named in the All-Australian team for the first time.

“So to be able to get recognised a year or two after that is great. I’ve got to thank a number of people who have played a role in that. Obviously Chris Scott coming into the footy club has been great for me.

“Without naming too many, because I’ll thank those people, people have showed interest in me, genuine (interest) to try and help me out and improve me and that’s been really great and I’ll never forget that.”

The repayment is being made on the field, with Mackie having put together arguably the best season of his career.

Off the field, he’s paying forward that care shown to him, having been elevated to Geelong’s leadership group where his mission is as much helping his teammates off the field as it is being a general on it.

“I’ve really enjoyed it. I guess I haven’t had the role officially in the past but I’ve felt I’ve had a bit to say out on the ground as far as setting up structurally and

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that sort of thing, so my role has been a broad role,”

Mackie said. “You talk about the games and how they’re going and you have a bit more interest in the overall welfare of other players in your team.

“I’ve really enjoyed that. I’m naturally a caring person so I’ve enjoyed that.”

Since that 2010 finals series, the 29-year-old has missed just three games and is the only Cat to have played every game in the past two years.

His maiden All-Australian selection has come in the same year as his leadership group appointment, and the birth of his first child, son Freddie.

Cats coach Scott said Mackie’s All-Australian honour was reward for not just an excellent 2013 season.

“Andrew Mackie in for the first time I think is in part recognition for a very consistent few years,” Scott said.

“He’s obviously been very good this year but he’s been very good certainly in my time at Geelong.”

The triple premiership player became the 17th Cat to earn All-Australian selection in this current era, having previously been named in the 40-man squad in 2008 and 2009.

“I’ve come up for a few free dinners before,” he laughed. “In all honesty, to see these type of players and be recognised in the same category is very humbling.

“I always tried to work on my game and see where that’s taken me. Thankfully I’ve been part of a really good team so it helps this sort of stuff. So from my point of view, it’s very humbling. I’m working on my game, different aspects, all the time.

I think (in the) early days definitely the balance (between my offence and defence) probably wasn’t what it is now. But every game there’s stuff for me to work on and I’m really focused on that.”

For now though, Mackie’s attention is firmly on Hawthorn tomorrow night, and the prospect of making it to a fifth AFL Grand Final in seven years.

A fourth premiership, to go with his All-Australian award, is still within reach.

“Our dream’s still alive,” he said.