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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…)


Guest columnist – Summer sport – get into it!

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Blogger’s note – It’s been too long since we’ve had a voice other than mine protruding from these pages. Enter guest columnist extraordinaire Craig O’Donoghue – footy journalist, footy umpire, Bombers fan, cricket lover, happy bloke, Perth dweller, Victorian.

Enjoy his post, and your forthcoming summer of sport. But of course, don’t forget the AFL!


Not Craig!

I spent the weekend in the garden. Yes, I just uttered those words. I had to check because it’s pretty much unheard of.

But some plants which died last summer needed replacing and I had to dig out the weeds which had become infested throughout winter. There was no way I’d do it during the footy season.

Funnily enough, there wasn’t a moment where I felt compelled to check a sporting score. A quick social media check showed me that I wasn’t the only one doing something random.

Just three of my Facebook friends mentioned sporting events that occurred on the weekend. During the AFL season, there’d be three updates from some people during the course of one game!

There was plenty of sport on throughout the weekend. A major golf tournament was on in Perth, the Ryobi Cup cricket, the Champions League T20 matches, A-League soccer, NBL, the Caulfield Cup, V8 Supercars, rugby union and netball.

I’ve had one eye on the Major League Baseball and EPL, while the NBA isn’t far away.

Where’s the passion?!

But the passion and intensity of the footy season is missing. There’s plenty of sport to watch, but there isn’t sport I must watch. Read the rest of this entry

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

We haven’t won a game in two years!

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An all-too familiar post-game scene…

Two years in the abyss – an insight into the foibles of ‘hope’

I am worried for my son.

You see, I’ve worked around kids for well over a decade. They are funny, cheeky and loyal … to a point.

They like to get their own way, they like to have fun … and they like to win.

Barracking for the Bombers at the moment does not equate with winning. In fact, while my little boy has only been around for 90 days, it was 485 days ago that I last saw my Bombers win a game. 485!

That was the first of May, 2011, when the boys in red and black almost scored 100 points in the first quarter against Gold Coast, who apparently now go ok against the Navy Blues.

Last year, I expected the dropoff; Essendon weren’t expected to go that far. Having said that, we were 3rd on the ladder after the Gold Coast win. Two weeks later, the bottom fell out; it’s not exactly an encouraging sign when your team can’t win a game in winter … in a winter sport!

And what I thought I’d be seeing…

‘That was last year’

But this year was different, or so I was told. We weren’t just high on the ladder, winning a tonne of games and sitting comfortably in the top 4, we were a legitimate threat come September. (Finals time in Aus…)

‘Hold on, Bombers!’ I exclaimed. I had a May 24 return date from my year without sport and I didn’t want them overheating the engine before then. Not to worry, I was told. There are many teams that should be concerned right now; you’re not one of them… So, even as a conservative sporting follower, I had to admit that I was drinking the Essendon Coolade.

How our skies have looked pretty much every day over the last 3 months…

So when the return came, even though winter’s depths loomed, (and let’s face it, what a rub-bish Melbourne winter it has been!), I returned an expectant supporter.

And then everything turned to pot. Read the rest of this entry

Avoiding temptations on the road

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Well, it’s coming up to 15 months since I have seen my football team win a game. I haven’t been sucked in to watching the ‘easy’ wins that have come our way since my return and we have lost all 50/50 games in that same time.

I’m supposed to be going with a mate to see the Hawks in all probability de-stroy my Bombers this Friday night. I am currently in the midst of 3 days off work in a move which could be labelled a ploy in order to get off out of the pulverising brutality at Etihad Stadium. Just don’t tell my boss.

I am dangerously close to a reversal of the great 2000 season where I didn’t see us lose a single game. If that happens, stuff it, I’m watching us against the Tigers in Round 22. Oh please … don’t let us lose to them.

Two month anniversary today!

Being the two month anniversary today of my return to sport, I have seen that even when you have gotten your primary distraction under control, whether it be sport, shopping, tv, the internet, gambling or Facebook, there will be other elements ready and willing to drag your focus from what is important, such as sport, shopping, tv, the internet, gambling or Facebook!

Even last July, we came across a fellow pilgrim, who had just completed his year without American football. How did he do it? By getting into other sports, ironically, Australian Rules!

Part of Jack Kerouac’s yearning to be ‘On The Road’; the iconic surmisal of his ‘great’ road trip adventures in the 40s, stemmed from his refusal to subscribe to the cultural norms of having to consume production, and therefore have to pay for that ‘privilege’ of consuming, work, producing, repeat… Read the rest of this entry

Finishing well

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I’m a big believer in finishing well. In all areas of life. Well, maybe not break-ups. They always went poorly! But as a teacher, my most concerted efforts come in the 4th term, striving to ensure that every student gets the most out of the year and leaves with fond memories.

In the sporting realm, I love when athletes leave when they still have something in the tank, but know that their best is long behind them.

Shane Crawford struggled all 2008 in the AFL for fitness and form. A Brownlow medallist and for a long period of time their standout performer, a sad ending beckoned. Yet he found health and the footy just in time to come off the bench in the ’08 Grand Final, playing amazingly well as the Hawks did the unthinkable against the Cats.

Soon after, amidst the euphoria, he announced his intention to return for another season. Uh oh. Surely he saw the writing on the wall… This would colour how we’d remember him as a player, like far too many before him. Yet in a move away from the norm, Crawford shifted stances and hung up the boots at the perfect time, premiership medallion firmly in hand.

How could you begrudge this man his moment?! Well, unless you hate Hawthorn as much as I do…

I’m proud of the fact that James Hird won Essendon’s 2007 Best and Fairest in his final season for an incredible 5th time, even garnering Brownlow votes in his final game. I love that Magic Johnson had 20 assists in his final NBA Game, in the Finals against Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, no less. (Twenty assists!?What more could he do?!)

Enter Entourage, yet again!

Mrs YWS and I watched the final series of Entourage over the weekend. Even as the series began, there was a freshness in the script writing complete with more poignant, compelling storytelling.

I can’t think of too many shows that ended well. Friends. X Files. Seinfeld maybe. That’s about it. Part of my frustration with the current system is that shows will pick up second series and beyond if the ratings are there, regardless of the show’s premise. How many of us lasted until the end of Lost? Prison Break, anyone? We grind every ounce out of shows until their ratings fall through the floor, and then the networks unmercifully can them. End of story.

Being a character-driven TV watcher, I was so pleased that Entourage were able to round out the respective stories of each character. Vince. E and Sloane. Ari and his wife. Turtle and his money making. Drama’s career. E and Vince. Ari and ‘Lllllooooyyyddddd’. They tied up the loose ends perfectly. (But yes, I’ll still go see the movie when they make it…)


I’ve gone back and forth in my mind countless times over whether or how to end this blog. 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.



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