'It was disgusting': Sledge that almost made Travis Cloke quit AFL

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor
Travis Cloke in action with the Western Bulldogs in 2017. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Travis Cloke says he felt like quitting footy in the middle of a match in 2017 after a ‘disgusting’ sledge from a young rival.

Cloke took some time away from the game while with the Western Bulldogs in 2017 due to mental health issues.

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But in a game for VFL side Footscray after returning to the club, Cloke says he was repeatedly sledged by a young opposition player about his mental health.

Cloke told the Herald Sun’s ‘Sacked’ podcast on Friday the player was on St Kilda’s AFL list and playing with Sandringham at the time.

“I was playing in the VFL for the Dogs. I think it was my first game back from having a bit of a lay-off,” he said.

“I was down at Sandringham playing down there. One of the players turned around with a remark or a sledge.

“I haven’t repeated it and I didn’t even make an official complaint even though I thought it was disgusting.

“He was a young player and I didn’t want him to be tarred by this reputation and sledge for the rest of his career.

“But definitely it resonated with me to the point where I almost walked off the field.”

Travis Cloke considered retaliating

Cloke told the umpires and his coaches but said he never received an apology from the player.

“Things were done, but not enough in my eyes,” he said.

“I am still waiting for a call to apologise, that’s how disgusting it was.

“I guess that was more the moment where I was thinking, ‘This is bullshit, what I am putting myself through the stress of this game of football for when some 20-year-old kid can turn around and say what he said’.”

The former Collingwood player said he was so shocked by the repeated insults that he nearly attacked his opponent.

“I almost stopped the game, went over and grabbed him. That was the point where I was at,” he said.

Travis Cloke celebrates a goal for Collingwood in 2016. (Photo by Michael Dodge/AFL Media/Getty Images)

“I was pretty lucky the halftime siren went and I obviously removed myself from the situation in the rooms.

“The umpire came up to me because I told him to do something about it or I will do it myself as the second half starts.

“I wasn’t afraid to get suspended at the back end of my career, a weekend off is not a bad thing. It definitely crossed my mind after that game. Do I even want to play again?

“Do I want to step back out on the field and put myself back in that situation or if someone does do it again what am I going to do, am I going to snap?

“And that’s not normally in my character. Yes, in my career I got reported a couple of times for silly incidents but nothing that was over the top or brutal but this would have pushed me to that stage.”

Cloke played 246 games for Collingwood before his lone season with the Western Bulldogs.

He announced his retirement in 2017 after 10 games for the Bulldogs.