With the AFL on hold, Marty Hore is back on the farm

By Andrew Johnston

With Melbourne the state’s epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, it’s far from the best place for an elite athlete to be spending their time.

So, with AFL club Melbourne’s decision to send its players home, Marty Hore is back living country life on the family farm at Leitchville.

“I’m pretty lucky really,” Hore said.

“There are a lot of people living in the city who haven’t got a lot of choice but to sit at home.

“They do their training, but outside of that they’re stuck without a lot to do. But there is plenty for me to do on the farm.”

Hore, who appeared in 14 games in his debut season last year, said the weeks leading up to the AFL season being suspended was the strangest time of his footballing life.

“We really just wanted to get into games,” he said.

“It had been a long pre-season, we were feeling fit and ready to go at that point, we’d had a good pre-season competition.

“But then you have this cloud hanging over you of not knowing how much football you would actually get to play.

“The football club did everything right for us. They moved the whole program out to Casey Fields so we were further away from people.

“We didn’t have a positive test anywhere in the club, but they still asked anyone who had anything like symptoms to stay at home.

“Only certain people were allowed at the club, so we could keep our numbers down.

“I can’t say enough about how well Melbourne handled it all.

“They did everything possible to protect the playing group and that meant a great deal to all of us.”

The AFL did start on time, with round one being played between March 19-22, albeit to empty stadiums.

Melbourne played in the final match of round one (though Hore was not selected) in Perth to complete round one, just hours after the AFL suspended the season.

Within days the players had been stood down for more than a month, scheduled to return on May 4.

Hore was given a program by the club to complete for his time away, ensuring he would be cherry ripe when players were scheduled to return to full training.

“The program during the week is similar to what we would be doing leading into a game,” Hore said.

“We’re also covering close to 12 km on a weekend, like what we would do on a game day.

“It’s hard work no doubt, but we don’t want to lose fitness when we have put the hard work in across the season.”

But with isolation from the footballing industry comes an even greater challenge for the young defender — motivating himself to train without his teammates.

“Being alone or only having one person with you has its challenges,” Hore said.

“It’s easier at the club when you have everyone doing the work and building towards the same goal.

“But I love it, and I’m still pushing through. I like to train first thing in the morning, get it out of the way so I have the afternoon to do my own thing.

“In the end, that usually turns out being a few jobs around the farm, but I really enjoy the work, so I’m not complaining.”

Melbourne has told its players they are expected to return on May 4, undertaking a mini-pre-season before restarting this year's competition.

Though Hore is aware anything can happen between now and then.

“The AFL is reassessing each month,” he said.

“We are planning for this date, but we also know a lot can change in that time period. We could be out a lot longer.

“The best we can do in the meantime is keep working hard so we are in the best condition when we get back to what we love.”