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The lessons of life … from Round One

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Life

Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today? The grass is always greener on the other side. Patience is a virtue.

Three sayings which are all true but all need context to fully understand.

Football clubs used to follow the first two sayings religiously. Clubs would pick their best 22 for round one and live with the consequences later.

You’d constantly hear coaches saying “he’ll be right for round one.” But why is round one more important than round 18? Games are still worth four points. Lose a player with an injury in round one and you’ll regret having him sidelined in round four.

So, yes, Collingwood would love to have had Dale Thomas on the field for round one. He’s clearly better than their 22nd ranked player and would have had some sort of impact. But he wasn’t fit, so he didn’t play.

AFL vs soccer

Neither did Clinton Young, or Andrew Krakouer or Luke Ball.

And Collingwood isn’t the only club holding players back.

Simon Black, Luke Hodge and Steve Johnson are all Norm Smith medallists. But they weren’t ready to play, so they’re sitting out the opening game of the year.

It’s a valuable lesson in life.

Nope, not jealous at all...

Nope, not jealous at all…

To the beach!

Last week I spent five days on the Gold Coast for a holiday before the madness of the footy season began.

One night, we were talking to a lady from Darwin. She asked whether we’d swum with the dolphins or seals at SeaWorld. No, we hadn’t.

Had we been to the horse show at the local restaurant? No we hadn’t.

Had we done all of the other outrageously expensive things available on the Gold Coast? No, we hadn’t.

What had we done? Well, we’d been to the theme parks, enjoyed the beach, pool and other local attractions. Basically, we’d lived within our means.

“I’m not worrying about that,” she replied.

$14?!!

$14?!!

“I’ll regret it when the credit card bill arrives. But right now, I’m just enjoying myself. Now I’m getting another cocktail. They’re $14 each but they’re nice.”

Take your time

The football season is a marathon, not a sprint. My club, Essendon, discovered that last year when we dominated the first half of the season but failed to make the finals.

Being the best now doesn’t mean you’ll be the best when it matters. Being the smartest in primary school doesn’t mean you’ll get a great job. Burn out happens all the time.

A friend of mine loves the phrase “success is a journey, it’s not a destination.”

Simplicity

We are all on a journey that hopefully leads to happiness and success. But unless we all follow the path of simplicity and make rational decisions about our life, we’ll spend more time at the same destination – disaster.

Footy has a way of teaching life lessons. From racism and sexism to cheating and scandal, clubs mirror life. If we follow the lessons from off the field, we should also consider what we’re looking at on the field.

Seeing stars sitting in the grandstand is a reminder that some things can wait until tomorrow, the grass isn’t necessarily greener but patience is still very much a virtue.

(Blogger’s note – a special thanks to Craig O’Donoghue for writing this piece…)

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It’s Grand Final time!

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Before I begin, kudos to Jobe Watson on winning the Brownlow Medal. What he has had to go through to mould himself into one of the best players in the game deserves significant accolades.

The pressure of being the son of Essendon legend Timmy Watson, who is revered by all of us at Bomberland, is nothing to scoff at. He started too soon, was out of his depth and lacked the prerequisite work ethic to make it. Well, the dedication came, and his extraction abilities in packs and his disposal by hand were exquisite.

Problem was, he couldn’t kick.

Taking that weakness and making it into a strength – look at his goal kicking this year – and taking on the captaincy are no small feats.

Those my age or younger will only remember Gavin Wanganeen and Hirdy as our previous winners. None of us will begrudge welcoming Watson into the fold alongside those celebrated Bomber players.

In a nice touch, I was born in 1976 – the last time we had a Brownlow medallist before then – Graham Moss. My son now shares the same story…

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I came pretty close to missing two Grand Finals in a row. Last year, I was overseas and in the middle of the year without sport.

I was never going to ‘sneak a peek’ at the big game and took some solace in partying in Lisbon, Portugal. Fortunately for me, last year’s final ended up being a rubbish game and a really unlikeable team won… What? Oh that’s right, it was a freaking epic and the hated Pies lost to the most popular team of the last decade. My bad.

This year, though, I was primed to take in the second half of the season and the Finals campaign. My Bombers were up and about when May 24 came around (unlike my Lakers, who were knocked out of the playoffs two days before the end of the YWS) and there were signs that the top teams weren’t unbeatable. I was watching only one game per round and keeping things in moderation…

And then the wheels came off. Read the rest of this entry

They’re not supermen

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Just before last week’s blog was posted, the tragic news came through about the death of John McCarthy.

For the uninitiated, McCarthy, an AFL footballer for Port Adelaide and before that, Collingwood, became lost and disoriented on his end-of-season trip to Vegas. From a 9 metre casino roof, he attempted to jump onto a palm tree about one metre away so that he could climb down.

A fall ensued and the impact took his life about thirty minutes later.

I didn’t want to halt last week’s piece by jumping to conclusions about how this event occurred, or why he was apart from teammates, or in such a fragmented mental state a mere few hours after landing in the ‘city of sin’. They are still questions that need answering, but from more developed minds than I…

It has, however, had me thinking about the invincibility that so many sports stars feel.

For those who play a contact sport such as AFL, NFL and rugby, the courage they have to demonstrate on the field means that there is nothing to fear off it.

Nothing.

And this is where we start to encounter problems. Read the rest of this entry

Dying at 103 and calling for a priest

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Ok ok, as far as titles go for a blog post, this is about as good as it gets! The real story however, well, not as uplifting…

I had lunch with my mum yesterday, as we do, and she was telling me about some of the people that live with her. I was asking her about some of her friends and getting some good updates, although Hans, her best mate, is apparently ‘disconsolate’ over the form of our Bombers in the AFL.

I’m with Hans, here.

I haven’t seen a game where the Bombers actually win in over 14 months. This is the opposite of the 2000 season where I never saw them lose! I had to look after my son on Saturday night and we had the Bombers- Saints game on the box.

Believe me, by half time, I was far more interested in Joshy’s form on the bouncer – strong, alert, using both feet to kick out (a good sign for future footballing endeavours), both arms pumping consistently – than seeing the Saints wipe the floor with us. Congratulations Stephen Milne, on 250 games; yeah, everyone thinks you are a top bloke…

I’m seriously worried here. Josh needs to see a win and he needs to see it soon. Otherwise, suitors from Hawthorn , Carlton and, God forbid, Collingwood will be saddling up, a la Travis Cloke and Dwight Howard. And that would have to be the first time those two players have been in the same sentence… Clearly it’s time to move on.

Sigh

Anyway

Mum started filling me in on some of the oldies who were still going strong. But then she started sharing about a 103 year old lady who lived down the hallway. You know those naturally maternal, kind and caring grandmother-types who are sickly sweet, loving, and always giving gifts to younger children?

That was not her.

Old. Rude. Cynical and cutting. Read the rest of this entry

Sports commentators – shut the hell up!

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‘I still cry when I watch it.’

A clip struck me in a powerful manner over 4 months ago.

Why?

73 seconds of silence. Read the rest of this entry

1 month to go! The countdown begins.

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In one month from today, I can watch sport again.

Awesome!

It seems not so long ago that, fed up with another unfulfilling sport-filled weekend, the call was made to step away. Yet so much has changed and it’s the right time soon to re-enter a world that once upon a time I held so much stock in.

The plans have already been made with friends for Saturday night, May 25. I will get to see my Bombers in the Australian Football League again, the first time in what seems like forever.

We’ll also be throwing on last year’s epic AFL Grand Final, and I can fi-nally see Collingwood get their just desserts. Can’t wait to hear that ‘Coll-ing-wooo-oood’ chant when they think they’ve got it locked up. Gold.

But there’ll also be the banter, the heckling, the analysis, the big calls and of course, the ridiculous synopses and predictions.

Anticipation Read the rest of this entry

The countdown is on – less than 100 days to go!

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Monday February 13 marked 100 days to go on the ‘Year without sport’ calendar. Incredible to think that initially, I wondered if I’d even make it through the first month! Now, May 24 seems to be looming, and not just because I’m set to be a first-time father a week or two before that time.

The last few weeks have been cleansing as the efforts to go all-out on sports avoidance have come to fruition and the benefits of being completely immersed and present in other activities has paid off.

Rather than softening the approach as the end nears, the opposite has occurred as the determination to not do this half-baked has risen. ‘Baking’, ‘rising’ … too many food metaphors … I’m hungry, so I’ll move on.

As the end time seems to be nearing, it gives me an opportunity to think about some of the practicalities about how this will be different when May 25 hits…

Some rules are needed

I started to compile a mental checklist of the significant sporting events that had occurred while I’ve ‘been away’ and those that have been sitting on the hard drive or DVD collection – untouched in the last 9 or so months – that I was looking forward to viewing. As I did so, I realised that I have to set strong boundaries over my re-integration or I could be back to square one very quickly…

An ‘all-in’ approach once the shackles are off late-May could easily eventuate! This would mean that once this initial tsunami of catch-ups and ‘must-see’ events subside, I could then fall into a reduced viewing load from that initial onslaught. However, it would still be one that comprises a far greater volume of ‘recliner time’ than is healthy.

So while it’s too early to know for sure how this may play out and there is also the ma-jor factor of Little Junior being on the scene by then, which I hear may slightly affect my lifestyle, it still seems like now is a good time to set some ground rules, starting with one main one …  Read the rest of this entry