Heath Shaw is an open book.
There is the good, such as the Anzac Day Medal he won in 2007 and the premiership in 2010. His chase and smother that prevented a certain Nick Riewoldt goal in the Grand Final rematch that year remains one of the great solo acts in modern football history.
Since crossing to the Giants in 2014, there has been a best and fairest and two All Australian blazers.
The 33-year-old has been a wonderful running defender and backline organiser on the field and a model citizen off it since donning the charcoal and orange, but back in his Magpie days, there was the club-imposed suspension for drink-driving and crashing his car that prematurely ended his 2008 season. In 2011 there was an eight-match suspension for betting on football.
You can’t help but nod and agree when Shaw tells the AFL Record in an interview this week, “To be honest, I think I have experienced most things in footy.
“I have the ability to tell some pretty good stories and some stories that I probably shouldn’t. But you have to learn from them – the good and the bad – and I definitely have. I wouldn’t take anything back or change anything I’ve done; it got me to here and if any of our younger boys who are rolling up to the club ask a question or inquire about something I’ve done, I’m brutally honest about what happened, how it panned out and that sort of thing.”
It makes Shaw one of the most magnetic characters at the Giants. He can often be seen lunching in the club café with one or two younger players.
“They could be joking around or he could be offering some serious wisdom about the choices they might make in life,” noted Giants coach Leon Cameron.
It often is the latter.
Cameron estimates that about a once a month he will come to learn of a deep and meaningful chat that a Giants player has had with Shaw that has led to some sort of positive change, either on or off the ground. Given how many young footballers there have been at that club over the journey, there has been lots of coffee, lots of meals and lots of conversations.
“We got a very good player six years ago,” Cameron continued. “But also a very good person.”
Shaw plays his 300th game AFL next week when the Crows visit Adelaide. But with a home game this weekend against his former club, the AFL Record (and many of his former teammates) are marking the occasion this weekend at Giants Stadium.
You can pick up your copy of the AFL Record at all grounds this weekend for just $5.