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Picken’s perseverance pays off

Liam Picken in action during a Western Bulldogs training session at Whitten Oval, Melbourne. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Liam Picken in action during a Western Bulldogs training session at Whitten Oval, Melbourne. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
I suppose getting knocked back a couple of times, it makes you more determined.
Liam Picken

The saying goes like father, like son but Bill and Liam Picken’s respective football  careers are worlds apart.

Bill forged a career in the 1970s as a larrikin centre half back, who was spurred on by his own running commentary out on the field.

The father’s boisterous personality is contrasted by the serious and unassuming Picken jr who puts his head down and quietly gets the job done.

While their attitude and reputation are influences of their era,  both father and son did share a common trait — the drive to succeed.

"AFL is very serious now. When Dad played, the game was full of characters," Liam told The Herald Sun after signing a contract extension until the end of 2015.

"Dad was working full-time - he'd go to training after work and play on the weekends. They had heaps of fun when they were playing.

"Now it's very cutthroat, very serious, I suppose. On the footy field, you've got to be focused."

Picken was made aware of just how competitive the AFL industry can be before even making it onto the Western Bulldogs list.

It took years of persevering before the midfielder grabbed his AFL chance with a place on the rookie list, but in retrospect Picken believes the situation has played out in his favour.

"When I was 18, 19, 20, my body wasn't ready for it and I wasn't good enough to make it, so I'm glad I got the opportunity when I was older. When I got my opportunity I was able to take it," Picken said.

"There's so many young blokes that get in the system and their body's not right and they're injured for a couple of years and they get spit out straight away.

"When I was playing VFL, I started doing more weights, I got some running technique, I had some coaching from a running coach.

"I suppose getting knocked back a couple of times, it makes you more determined."

The Bulldogs show of faith paid dividends early, with the well-respected tagger missing just seven games since being selected at pick 30 in the 2009 AFL Rookie draft.

Few could question the Williamstown recruit’s resolve both on and off the field, forcing his way into eight place in the 2011 Charles Sutton Medal and continuing his rise to rank third in 2012.

On track to surpass the 100 game milestone in 2013, Picken’s unyielding attack on the ball and his opponent has set a benchmark for the emerging Bulldog midfield.