'Absolutely heartbroken': AFL player rocked by 'terrible' tragedy

Ben Crocker, pictured here with his father Paul.
Ben Crocker and father Paul. Image: Instagram

AFL player Ben Crocker has paid a heartbreaking tribute after the death of his father.

Crocker, who was de-listed by the Adelaide Crows recently, is mourning his father’s death after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

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Paul Crocker died at home in Melbourne surrounded by his family, including son Ben, just two weeks after he was cut by the Crows.

“After a near 10 year-battle our beautiful Pauly passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family,” Ben wrote on Instagram on Tuesday.

“A much loved husband, father, brother, uncle and friend.

“We are absolutely heartbroken but will continue to live life with the greatest memories full of happiness and laughter just like you would have wanted.

“We choose to remember you for someone who’s (sic) cheeky smile and infectious personality would light up the room.

Ben Crocker, pictured here in action for the Adelaide Crows.
Ben Crocker in action for the Adelaide Crows. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

“You would be so proud of our family and how we dealt with this illness over the last few years, you fought so hard but ultimately you knew it was the right time to leave us, so we can start our new chapter.

“Forever and always Pauly crock.”

Crocker played 26 games for Collingwood from 2016 to 2019, before moving to Adelaide to play with the Crows this year.

He played seven games in 2020.

Earlier this year the 23-year-old spoke out about his father’s battle and the guilt he felt about being away from home.

“Your first emotion is, ‘I’m not there to help’,” he said in an interview with News Corp.

“When you’re in Melbourne (looking after him) every day, you’re like, ‘I need a break’, but now that I’m not there, I kind of miss doing that stuff.

“I don’t talk to him (on Facetime), it’s purely for me and my own comfort to see his face.

“Seeing his face makes it all a lot easier.”

Fans from around the AFL world were left heartbroken by the news.

Former player lifts lid on infamous Crows camp

Meanwhile, retired Crow Bryce Gibbs says Adelaide's infamous 2018 pre-season camp was a disaster which broke trust between players and football department staff.

Gibbs left Carlton at the end of the 2017 season to join the Crows, who capitulated in a heavy grand-final loss to Richmond that season.

Gibbs and his new Crows teammates joined coaches in a pre-season camp on the Gold Coast in January 2018.

“We hopped on a bus on the Gold Coast and ended up in NSW,” Gibbs told the ‘Greats with Garby’ podcast.

“I couldn't tell you where we were to be honest.

“We can look back on it and laugh about it but it certainly hurt the group probably more so than I thought it did at the time.

“The playing group lost a bit of trust with the footy department.

“Obviously a lot of details, we weren't allowed to know going into the camp. We all had to sign waivers just to say we can't speak about it after.

“It was just strange the way it played out and I think the playing group certainly lost a bit of trust with the decisions the club was making and some of the decisions the club made going forward.”

with AAP

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