Collingwood premiership midfielder Tom Mitchell didn’t feel valued in his final year at Hawthorn and says he was singled out for harsh and “unprofessional” treatment in team meetings.
The inside midfielder played 106 games at Hawthorn between 2017 and 2022, winning the Brownlow Medal in 2018, before moving to Collingwood in the last trade period.
But late in his time at the Hawks, as Sam Mitchell and his coaching team prioritised developing younger midfielders, the 30-year-old said his time at centre bounces was strictly limited and he “didn’t really feel valued at all”.
Speaking to the Ball Magnets podcast, Tom Mitchell opened up on the team meetings that made him certain the Hawks “wanted me out”.
“I would chat with Dylan Moore, Finn Maginness, Will Day, these guys who are some of my good mates still and we’d call it ‘the Tom Mitchell game review’,” he said.
“That was (it) signed, sealed and delivered. I knew after that (team) meeting, ‘I’m not coming back here next year, whatever happens I’m not coming to Hawthorn’.
“One review where there was like five or so clips of just me. There was a few that were fair … but I got barrelled this meeting. All five clips and that was the meeting done.
“I walked out of that thinking, ‘Are you serious?’ This is unprofessional, unfair’. Made me feel like absolute s*** in front of everyone, and that happened a few times.”
Having moved to Collingwood, Mitchell played all 26 games as a crucial midfield cog in 2023’s flag-winning team.
“I was pretty happy when the opportunity came to come to Collingwood. A fresh start was exactly what I needed,” he said.
“Move 12 months forward — and it’s easy to say now that we’ve won and can celebrate and these things — but regardless of if we won, I’m just a much happier person with where I’m at in my life.
It took Tom Mitchell (right) 10 years and three clubs, but he is now a premiership player with Collingwood.(Getty Images: AFL Photos/Michael Willson)
“It’s a credit to Fly (coach Craig McRae) to be honest, and the players for embracing me.”
Midfield teammate Jordan De Goey wasn’t surprised Collingwood’s environment was getting the best out of Mitchell.
“At the moment we’ve got a really nurturing kind of environment,” he said at the launch of the FIM Supercross World Championship at Docklands on Tuesday.
“Players want to be themselves and that’s why people want to come to the footy club.
“They see what Fly’s created: a good culture, good people, and you’re allowed to have a good time which is the best part about it.
“You’ve seen players thrive in the conditions under the footy club.
“That’s why it’s a destination club now.”
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Source: AFL NEWS ABC