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The lessons of life … from Round One

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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.



“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.”


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…)


Player movement – good, bad or ugly??

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Three days after the Grand Final, I went searching through high-profile sports web pages, searching for any indicators that the mighty Swans were still front and centre in the news. Of course they weren’t; we had all moved on … within 3 days.

In their place in the footy limelight was player movement. Who was going where? Which players might be offloaded, traded back home, move into the draft or be delisted, never to fight another day? (And who dressed up as what for Mad Monday?! Seriously…)

Killing football?!

It was Paul Roos, immensely respected ex-player and champion coach, who commented on the day of a number of player trades, that it ‘was a sad day for football’. Of course the headline read, ‘Free agency is killing football’, but let’s put that down to the usual hysterical sports media in this country. Craig O’Donoghue, you’re excluded from that tainted brush, so are you Tim Lane, ok, and Jake Niall…

‘I was misquoted’!

But is the sentiment over the top? Read the rest of this entry

Peter Roebuck and the life of a sports journalist

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(Blogger’s note – This week, my favourite cricket writer, Peter Roebuck, died, while covering the tour of South Africa. [This piece will not go into the details surrounding his passing.] I didn’t feel I could do his talent or the role of a sports journalist justice if I was to write the piece. And, I would have felt hypocritical eulogising a sports writer while on a 12 month ban from sport.

So I asked Craig O’Donoghue, a sports journalist for the West Australian, to do the job for me. Craig, as is his way, enthusiastically agreed. Besides being a native Victorian, sports nut and one of the happiest blokes I know, he’s also a talented writer, so I hope you enjoy…)

Peter Roebuck

Of all the compliments I’ve read about Peter Roebuck’s work off the cricket field, it was a Facebook status update by a colleague at The Age which summed him up the best.

Football writer Rohan Connolly wrote that he “never finished reading one of his articles without feeling like I’d learned something.”

That was the key to Roebuck. He was a former cricketer who used his knowledge of the game to inform, but wrote with the skill and flair of a lifelong author.

Many athletes have columns which appear in newspapers or online. Few actually write them. Most have a journalist assigned to turn their thoughts into a story. Roebuck wrote every word and he kept you interested.

I never met him but know people who counted him as a friend. Friends are vital when you cover cricket for a living.

Family Life

Even if you covered only test cricket, the current series would require you to be in South Africa for close to a month. That’s a long time to be away from your family.

A cricket writer’s Christmas Day involves writing a story about the Boxing Day test match, instead of waking up at home with excited children surrounded by presents. Read the rest of this entry