Sunday, 29 July 2012

Ghost of Optus Oval article.

This was was written after the first season opener between Richmond and Carlton - a tradition that has served us well. Thought it was appropriate given our sterling win on Sat. evening.

It Is us Versus THEM!

When I was a wee lad kicking the Ross Faulkner ( rumored to be genuine pig-skin leather) football in the streets of Glenroy there were only twelve teams. Ten really, Ten and then there was St Kilda and Footscray – both of whom stuck out like sore thumbs. 1 flag each said it all really -  North and Hawthorn at this point had none but their jumpers made you forget about them, they were too similar to the mad moccasin mob from Carringbush. So as a kid it was easy to hate the kids who donned the wrong jumpers. The Essendon blondes and their Daffy Duck struts, the Country Bumpkins and their giggling ex-coach Bobby Davis, The Tigers and their balding Bartlett bouncing balls just before the jumper was tugged, their Bashing Balme and Booting Sheedy and so on.
Really I hated Collingwood ‘cos Nanna made me pat her stupid magpie statue whenever I entered her house, and I hated Essendon 'cos every second kid raved on about the mythical Coleman but the side I hated most was, of course, Richmond. So to start each season off with a win against the Tigers, well, what can I say. This week I have felt good. I have smiled and been bemused by the amount of people calling Carlton lucky to have escaped.
This is good. This reminds me of my childhood days when a Carlton win was always about the opposition and never about us. Take ’68 and the bespectacled Geoff Blethyn. We won the Grand Final by 3 points – mainly because we kicked about as well as we did last week, but all anyone talked about was the single moment when Wes Lofts grabbed (supposedly) Betheyn and a free kick was not awarded. Did they congratulate us? Oh no, everyone just went on and on about that moment as if a single moment is all a Grand Final is about. It isn’t, but still, having won the flag it really didn’t matter what they said, I just smiled and nodded and wondered when we’d win the next one. We won last week. That is all that counts. We won. We have the four points, the rest is spilt milk.
Now comes the Suns (and aren’t you surprised I haven’t mentioned the song – well okay I just did, but I haven’t used it once). The next grand adventure of this new colossus that is the AFL. Gone are those old days of the VFL when all games were played at 2:10 on a Saturday afternoon. When the trip to Princes Park was a mad dash through the back streets of Carlton in Dad’s old car. Dad’s been gone a while now, and so has the VFL but this AFL monster just grows and grows like that the fat old Toad that drank up all the water until the land dried up. Let us hope football never dries up!
It’s hard for us oldies to let go of those old rivalries but these new teams, these new teams just stick in the throat. I mean who really cares about West Coast or Port Power? I don’t. They are just games to win or lose but do not compare to the emotions stirred by a game against The Pies or the Bombers. They just don’t.
So we come to The Suns. First things, if I hear one more time how this is about history I swear I’ll vomit up more garbage than a Collingwood Cheer squad. History is about having played hundreds of games, of having won more games against sides than you’ve lost, about having won sixteen flags, about Jezza’s mark and Ragsy’s white flashes on ankles and wrists, about Big Nick giant thighs and Sergio’s bowed legs, about the tongue of Gag’s sticking out between his lips and Barass tossing his mouthguard (or was it teeth) into the muddy ground.
History is what has happened, not about what has yet to occur. For all we know (and for which I secretly pray) this mob might last a year and then sink beneath the horizon and never reappear – regardless of the many benefits granted to ensue instant coffee success.
This is just a game. A game by a new club who has yet to build any history against the Old Dark Navies, the greatest club in the VFL/AFL’s history. This week I hope to see Bower back, he’ll fix many of the problems of that undersized backline from last week. This week I want to see Waite kick goals and nothing else! This week I want to see more of Laidler and Duigan ‘cos they’ve helped release Gibbs and his game was a ripper last week.
I expect us to win this week against the Suns but I think it will be tough. It’s the travel, the heat, the unknown and their desire to start with a win. I think for a half it will be close but I expect the boys to break clear in the third, just like we did in the old days when the stands would rock at Princes Park.
Curnow was great last week and I think he’ll be even better this week. Murph will star and Yazz will find more space I think. I was happy to see our Giant smash the Tigers and expect him, with Hammer, to do it again this week. All I ask is that the boys kick just a little bit straighter, you know, sort of put it beyond doubt as soon as they are able. I do not need close games, in fact, in case the lads don’t realize it, I actually prefer the old shellackings to the few pointers – even against Collingwood. So this week I want a percentage booster. I want a tight first half, a rip roaring third and then the mad rout where everyone Bluebagger and his dog runs forth to kick a goal, I want a Red Sea of defeat, a perfect match to their Red Sea jumpers.
It will be fun this week, fun to start of the new AFL instalment with another reminder that we are The Old Dark Navies and we will never let you down – unless you are the conglomerate from the AFL!

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