Despite playing 219 games for the Western Bulldogs and being their only Brownlow Medallist of the 21st century, Adam Cooney admits he feels more welcome at his second club Essendon.
Cooney was traded to Essendon in the 2014 trade period and played 31 games for the club across 2015 and 2016 before retiring.
The former All-Australian says the Bombers have been in constant contact with him since he retired, while he hasn’t been welcomed back to the Whitten Oval since 2014.
“No (I don’t feel welcome back at the Bulldogs). I haven’t been back to the Bulldogs since I left,” Cooney told SEN SA Breakfast when asked.
“But I left in a difficult circumstance, so I haven’t been back there. I feel a lot more welcome at Essendon than I do at the Western Bulldogs.
“(The Bombers have) just been in constant conversation with me since I retired.
“They ring every few months, the past players association, and just check in. I’ve done some work at the Bombers since I retired.
“Maybe it was just because it was fresh when I finished up and I was an Essendon player when I retired, but I feel a lot more welcome at the Bombers for some reason.”
Two-time Adelaide Norm Smith Medallist Andrew McLeod said similarly in 2019 when talking about the Crows.
Cooney admits AFL clubs tend to move on quickly from previous generations.
“I don’t know if he’s had a falling out with current board members or teammates of the past who hold positions there or not, all I know is it’s always sad when a legend of a club and a legend of the game like McLeod doesn’t feel like they’re welcome at their footy club,” he said.
“Although when you’re retired, footy clubs move on. They’re all about the current players and are so busy with memberships and getting things up and running things, often it’s hard to keep up with every past player and make them feel like they’re still a fabric of the club.
“I’m sure every Crows supporter would love Andrew McLeod, but the reality is they’ve got a new season coming up, it’s been a big off-season and throughout the year they’re just so busy with what’s going on, it’s hard to look to the past.
“So you can feel like you’re not part of a group, but that’s just the industry and the business moving on.”