Three of my brothers took their own lives, but football saved me

Doug Garth makes no secret about it: the Clunes Football Netball Club is why he is still here today.

Doug Garth

Doug Garth

With a family history of suicide – three of Garth’s brothers took their own lives – the 51-year-old openly admits he long thought he would have headed down the same path.

But the circuit breaker was being introduced to a sporting club.

“I went through my teen years wondering when I was going to be next, what was going to be my trigger to make me do it,” Garth recalled.

“I know it might sound funny how you are looking for a trigger, but I actually was looking for triggers. Every day I’d get up and I’d be thinking there’s a reason why I’m going to suicide today and follow in the footsteps of my brothers.

“But it didn’t happen and mainly because of the footy club, the way they made me feel, giving me that inclusion, that somewhere to go and somewhere to feel like it was a family.”

The hardship started from a young age, Garth said.

“I was coming from a lot of family violence and stuff like that,” he said.

“I come from a family that was very well known in a small town as the ratbags, the thieves or the criminals or whatever, so I found it really hard to find somewhere to fit in.

“And the footy club was that place where I actually went. I felt loved and I fitted in there.

“So I basically ran for years having a split life. I’d be at the footy club and I’d be one thing and I’d hang out with my brothers and I’d be a totally different person.”

While he admits he wasn’t much of a footballer, Garth’s love of the club eventually saw him take over as president of the Magpies.

Garth leading Collingwood Football Club players on a tour of Clunes after the floods in 2011.

Garth leading Collingwood Football Club players on a tour of Clunes after the floods in 2011.

Garth is now ready to share his story of how a sporting club environment can transform lives.

He will open up at a special Reclink Australia event – titled ‘Including the Unincluded’ – at the Clunes Football Netball Club on Friday night from 6.30pm.

Reclink Australia founder Peter Cullen will be there.