IT WAS an unconventional and at times controversial end to the 2015 season for new Geelong tall Lachie Henderson, but the 25-year-old says nothing over the past four months has altered his view on football.
Henderson spoke to The Age’s Peter Hanlon on his experience leaving Carlton following round 20 this year, and his subsequent move home to the Cats after 102 games at Princes Park.
"There's no doubt I didn't deal with it greatly, or enjoy the year, but I don't think anyone enjoyed the year around Carlton," Henderson said.
"It definitely has taken a toll, and is something I've gotta work through, something I'm working through now."
There was a sense of inevitability about his eventual departure from the Blues, and Henderson agrees the parting of ways was akin to ending a long-term relationship.
"It's something you know is going to happen, but you're worried about all the different things that will go with it."
"You get to a point you just suck it up and go, 'Righto, it's got to happen'."
"Once it does, everything just comes from all different angles that you either didn't think about or didn't think were going to be that bad. [The relationship break-up analogy] is probably a good way of looking at it."
"I'm sure everyone's been through one of them – it's not fun, and neither was this."
One such unexpected angle was from that of AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan, who labelled Henderson’s late-season exit from Carlton as "undisciplined" and "unnecessary" – comments which prompted Henderson’s mother Vonnie to phone talkback radio in defence of her son.
"Her son was being looked at the wrong way and she just came back and bit," Henderson admitted.
"I looked at it from the point of view of, 'What's the point of going back at them?' People are going to think what they think. Some people say you've gotta stand up for yourself. I just look at it and go, 'If they want to think that, then fine'.”
"I'm not someone who doesn't give a [care]. I do. It got to me at certain times and still does at certain times. But that was how I had to work it out in my head as best I could. I didn't really have much choice."
Henderson recognises the events as a whole may have placed a target on his back for future criticism of character and ability, but as he looks ahead to a new life at a new club in 2016, he believes returning home will be worth the pain endured.
"People deal with it differently – some deal with it really well, and I obviously dealt with it [poorly]. I've got a lot to prove to myself – just that I can actually do what I think I can – before I can worry about proving it to everyone else."
"I've spent a lot of time in Torquay, Geelong, obviously my younger days in Birre. It's a place I know really well, it's a place I love, I've still got mum and dad down here, lots of friends down here. I just love it here – it's where I grew up, part of who I am and how I was made."