As a footballer, he’d been gun, a legend, a champion, a star, until he played at the highest level, and by the time he learned how to be a mere cog, a role-player, a team man, the career was over. A lucrative decade on the suburban and bush circuits awaited, his reward for having trained alongside AFL stars, but Brent hit the road instead. He disappeared overseas, then into unseen Australia, picking grapes, digging, doing whatever got his hands dirty.
It was only when he settled again in Melbourne, and took on security work, mostly alone, at night, that his friends began to worry.
His mates assumed that sooner or later, a bloke who had reached the top of one field would need a new conquest.
Brent wasn’t so sure. When he came across the adventurers at the disused Kodak plant, and they asked why he was guarding an abandoned building, he was tickled.
Not just bored vandals looking for the sound of breaking glass, these two ‘urban explorers’. They had cameras, maps. He couldn’t work them out at all, a sensation he enjoyed. He kept them talking, using the authority of his uniform, and physique, pretending they were in trouble.
“We don’t know what we’re looking for until we see it… we’re looking for surprises.”
Without even leaving town.
Brent played Eastern Districts ones that year, revelled in it. He also spent the year getting to know the person most unlike himself in every room, and training to become a cop, a team man who used his initiative, a source of unexpected street compassion, and reason under pressure, and a connoisseur of the unexpected, in life and sports.