Liam Picken and Bulldogs president Peter Gordon celebrate the 2016 premiership. Picture: Mark Stewart
Liam Picken and Bulldogs president Peter Gordon celebrate the 2016 premiership. Picture: Mark Stewart

Concussion forces Picken retirement

CONCUSSION has forced Liam Picken into retirement after a decorated career as one of the Western Bulldogs' favourite sons.

The Bulldogs premiership player on Monday told the playing list of his decision after battling concussion symptoms for over a season since a brutal collision in March last year.

Picken was the club's leading goalkicker in 2017 but will always be remembered for his bull-at-a-gate style that typified the club's 2016 premiership run.

He kicked three goals to go with his 25 typically-effective disposals in the drought-breaking premiership win over Sydney.

But Picken, who turns 33 in August, didn't play again after the 2017 season and finishes his AFL career on 198 AFL games.

Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge paid tribute to his team-oriented star, but said his health and long-term future came first.

"It's never an easy thing to accept that one of the club's great servants will finish his career," Beveridge said.

"For the duration of his career, Liam has embodied the core values we hold dear as a football club, and we will miss his presence greatly.

Liam Picken talks with club doctor Dr Gary Zimmerman at training last month. Pic: Michael Klein
Liam Picken talks with club doctor Dr Gary Zimmerman at training last month. Pic: Michael Klein

"We have always had a family-first mentality at the Bulldogs, and that should always be the overriding consideration when it comes to a player's health and any impact that has on playing football.

"Liam can be immensely proud of his achievements. He is loved and admired within the club, and universally respected by the whole football public, which is a true indication of the impression he has made on the game."

He revealed last year an extensive list of symptoms after being carted off on a stretcher in that pre-season clash against Hawthorn.

 

He was concussed after running into the hip of teammate Josh Dunkley in a typically fearless attack on the ball in a marking contest.

"Some of the symptoms that have impacted me have been light and noise sensitivity, noise ringing in my ears, vision, headaches, migraines, mental wellness, memory function and impaired balance," Picken said.

Picken hasn’t been able to shake concussion symptoms suffered in a brutal collision in a JLT Series match against Hawthorn over a year ago. Pic: Getty Images
Picken hasn’t been able to shake concussion symptoms suffered in a brutal collision in a JLT Series match against Hawthorn over a year ago. Pic: Getty Images

"Some of these I still have and others I've fully recovered from. I'm hoping it's any day now.

"But one of the hardest aspects of post-concussion syndrome is not knowing when you'll get better. People still ask what's going on with me or why I'm not playing yet. And although it's been made clear to me that I'm on the road to full health, the timeline is unclear."

Picken had initially suffered a heavy concussion in Round 3, 2017 but played on without missing any games.

The concussion in the JLT Series game left symptoms that still had not fully abated by this summer, Picken revealing he was still suffering headaches.

Picken soared to great height in the grand final. Pic: Wayne Ludbey
Picken soared to great height in the grand final. Pic: Wayne Ludbey

The son of 240-game Collingwood defender Billy Picken had to work hard to establish his AFL career, combining study with work on Melbourne's wharves and at one stage in a salami factory while he played VFL.

 

But he found his way onto the Bulldogs list and developed from a lockdown defender and tagger into an attacking weapon for Beveridge's Bulldogs.

Picken said recently he hoped his openness about his concussion would help others speak up, revealing what a lonely road the recovery had often been.

Picken with wife Annie Nolan and their three children Malachy, Delphi and Cheska. Pic: Hamish Blair
Picken with wife Annie Nolan and their three children Malachy, Delphi and Cheska. Pic: Hamish Blair

"One of the hardest aspects of post concussion syndrome is not knowing when you'll get better. People still ask what's going on with me or why I'm not playing yet. And although it's been made clear to me that I'm on the road to full health, the timeline is unclear.

"I just want to encourage anyone that may have been hit, suffered concussion and doesn't feel 100% to speak up and seek help," he said.

"And hopefully my transparency has helped others that may be feeling alone in their journey."