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Growing up a Long

Simon Conway  May 23, 2016 5:00 PM

BTV: Growing up a Long - May 23, 2016 Jake Long shares his story about growing up as the son a legend.
Jake Long on the football field in Tiwi Islands late last year.

Jake Long on the football field in Tiwi Islands late last year.

Jake Long was eight years old when his Dad decided he was going to walk to Canberra.

There was little fanfare about Michael’s departure.

As Jake recalls, his Dad simply walked out the front door and began the 663-kilometre journey.

“When I was a young kid my Dad wanted to walk to Canberra for The Long Walk,” Jake Long said.

“He sort of just walked out the door with one of my uncles.  He started on one highway with nothing pretty much, just a pair of shorts and a shirt and walked to Canberra. 

“I caught up with him down the road and he told me what his cause was – it was for the Indigenous people of Australia to get back their rights and their land.”

After attending another funeral, Michael Long knew something needed to be done about the plight of his people.

Throughout his walk to the nation’s capital he was joined by people from many different backgrounds. 

Some stayed for an hour, others for a day and some were there for the whole time. 

The Long Walk did arrive in Canberra and on Friday December 3, 2004, Michael Long met with Prime Minister John Howard.

“You see a lot of people come up to him on the street – not just footy fans – I think it has an impact on white and black Australia,” Jake Long said.

More than a decade before his walk to Canberra, Michael had lit up the AFL world with a dazzling performance during the 1993 finals series.

His pace and skill broke down opposition defences.

He was a key component of Essendon’s premiership side and was presented with the Norm Smith Medal by fellow Tiwi Islander Maurice Rioli.

Jake wasn’t born at the time, but he has watched the game, though he’s father rarely brings it up.

Jake is on Essendon’s Rookie List at the moment.

Injuries slowed his progress last season, but with another pre-season under his belt, he’s producing more consistent VFL performances.

The Club is able to elevate a rookie-listed player to cover the loss of Jonathan Simpkin, though no decision has been made as yet. 

Jake knows there will be extra attention if he is to get a call-up.  From his days playing with Scotch College, to the day he was drafted – the Long name has carried extra weight. 

But it’s a name he is proud to hold. 

“At times I feel like I need to do more than what I can,” Jake Long said.

“But Dad’s told me ‘it’s your career, you do what you want with it but make sure you do it to the best of your ability’.” 

“I’ll do everything I can for my family and then personal interests come after that.”