DE­FY­ING THE EN­EMY WITHIN

Inside Sport - - Insider - BY JOE WIL­LIAMS, ABC BOOKS, $28 – James Smith

Each and ev­ery grand fi­nal day, us out­siders are pre­sented with im­ages il­lus­trat­ing the glo­ri­ous end of one leg­end or an­other’s sto­ried ca­reer. We watch on, wish­ing we were them. What a life: an elite foot­baller. And now he gets to re­tire to the good pad­dock that is leg­end sta­tus. But it’s cer­tainly not like that for ev­ery player who laces on the boots, as for­mer rugby league first-grader Joe Wil­liams at­tests in this ti­tle.

A Wagga

Wagga ju­nior,

Wil­liams signed with the Syd­ney

Roost­ers at the age of just 13, hav­ing been spot­ted by none other than the le­gendary

Arthur

Beet­son. Soon, he was play­ing at the elite level, first for the Chooks’ un­der-20s, and later for the

Bun­nies, ‘Dogs and Pan­thers.

But dur­ing th­ese years he was plagued by neg­a­tive voices in his head. The pres­sures of big-time sport took their toll. Turn­ing to the booze and drugs, Wil­liams (th­ese days a men­tal health ad­vo­cate, es­pe­cially in the area of sui­cide pre­ven­tion) at­tempted to take his own life back in 2012. This book presents not only the story of his re­turn from his in­ter­nal darkness, but also the ar­du­ous jour­ney he takes ev­ery day, even now, to en­sure his men­tal ill­ness demons don’t get the bet­ter of him.

Good for: Fans who think footy play­ers have it easy.

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