SEN’s Andy Maher has labeled Sam Docherty’s return to the AFL and peak form a “football miracle.”
Just months ago, Docherty had long odds to play early in the season, if at all, but has overcome plenty to put himself back on the field as a strong contributor for Carlton throughout the first three weeks of the 2022 season.
Maher detailed the adversity that Docherty has encountered, where his most recent diagnosis of testicular cancer and subsequent chemotherapy had some thinking he would not return to the AFL.
“You don’t like using hyperbole in the wrong context, but I’m going to say this,” Maher began on SEN’s The Run Home.
“In a sporting sense, what Sam Docherty is doing is a football miracle, it is a sporting miracle.
“When he first crossed over to Carlton, he lost his dad. His dad was a huge supporter of Docherty’s.
After that, he has two ACL (reconstructions), and he comes back from two knee reconstructions.
“Then has to overcome two significant diagnoses of testicular cancer.”
Carlton players shaved their heads in unity with Docherty in the wake of the former skipper undergoing chemotherapy in a decision that kickstarted their pre-season under Michael Voss.
Maher added that despite the optimism of the 28-year-old returning to the club, there were whispers Docherty would never play football again.
“Eight weeks ago, Carlton said nothing publicly and I’m not suggesting I heard anything off the record… but talking to a few people around the place, I don’t think there was much hope for Sam Docherty playing footy again,” he said. continued.
“Such was the nature of what he was battling, it was,‘ Sam, by all means, keep the fires burning in your own mind, no one was saying you’re not going to play, so forget about it, just get your health right ‘.
“Sam Docherty was clearly not of that view, for whatever reasons, he was of the view,‘ no, I’m going to get over this and I’m going to come back and play footy ’.
“To get himself playing at VFL level would have been an unbelievable achievement. He’s stepped off no pre-season, stepped in to Round 1, (his performances in) Round 1, Round 2 and Round 3 have been an integral part of what Carlton’s done. ”
As the Blues have gone 3-0 to start the season, Docherty has been an integral part in genuinely contributing to the side despite his minimal pre-season.
He’s recorded 84 disposals across his three games, including 33 possessions and 13 marks playing a wing role in the one-point win over Hawthorn on Sunday.
“On the weekend, when Hawthorn was coming, really coming, it was actually Docherty… in about four or five individual moments in the last quarter where he got in the way and did some critical things to thwart (the Hawks),” Maher added. .
“This is a football miracle… I think we are all in universal admiration for what this bloke is doing.”
Docherty received nine coaches’ votes for his performance in holding off the Hawks on Sunday afternoon at the MCG, taking his tally to a total of 10 for the 2022 season.
His former co-captain, Patrick Cripps, who is now the club’s sole skipper, is five votes clear of second on 25 coaches votes.