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LANDMARK | 2 June 2010

Country footy renews passion for former AFL star

This time last year Shannon Cox was trying to stop the best forwards in the AFL from scoring. Now, after retiring as a defender for Collingwood, he’s returned to grassroots football and is preparing to help the Great Northern Football League stage a comeback into the top grade at this year’s Landmark Country Championships.

“You could say that playing AFL is every little boys dream. I grew up watching it on television and I think, like most young guys, you always want to play at the best level you can – so for me actually getting to the top was like a dream come true,” Shannon Cox said.

Drafted to Collingwood in 2005, Cox spent five seasons in Melbourne before deciding to exit top level football late last year. At only 23, his decision to walk away from the game was a difficult one, motivated by a desire to be closer to his family.

“My nana passed last year. She basically raised me and took me to all my football games. When I couldn’t come back and mourn with the family because of my footy commitments I realised AFL wasn’t for me. I think I’m more of a family person and that’s the main reason I decided to retire,” Cox said.

“I’d be lying if I said I don’t regret it. When I watch it on television I really miss it.

Cox is now living in Geraldton and playing for Rovers in the Great Northern Football League. He says he’s enjoying his football and the challenge of taking on a new position in the midfield.

“For Collingwood I played in the back line so I was always following someone around all game. Now I’m playing in the middle and someone is following me around instead. We’re winning a few games and it’s always more enjoyable when you’re doing well,” Cox said.

With the Landmark Country Championships just around the corner, Cox is hoping to be picked to represent the region.

“I’d love to go to Country Week but there are a lot of good players who play in the midfield up here so there’s a bit of competition,” Cox said.

“Last time I went I was 17 and it was the only time I played. We got smashed every game. It was good to get up and play against boys who were taking footy seriously and it made us realise what we needed to do to be competitive at that level.

Great Northern Football League will be playing in the second division at this year’s championships after losing the grand final in B division in 2009. Cox says there’s a real desire within the league to play well and restore the team to the top division.

“I’ve spoken to a few of the boys up here. They’re really looking forward to playing in this year’s carnival and really keen to get back up to A grade. We want to play well and get the team back to the standard we were in the 90s,” Cox said.

“Hopefully I’ll get picked and be able to put a good effort in and help the boys get back to being a force in country footy.”

The Landmark Country Championships will be held in Perth from Thursday 8th to Sunday 11th July.


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