Saturday, 11 August 2012

First ever Ghost of Optus Oval article

John Ragsy Goold and my overcoat

Ragsy Goold; the name stirs memories form my long ago childhood. Ragsy, with his unique kicking style, where he'd hold the ball (always a drop punt - in a time when the drop kick and the torpedo punt still reigned supreme) at the point of the ball, elbows bent and he'd lavishly drop the ball, his
right arm then flinging back and up dramatically. That was the thing about Ragsy (so named because he worked in the clothing, or 'rag' trade), he was always dramatic.

He always ensured his ankle guards and wrist guard were glowing white to match the great white CFC monogram he wore proudly on his chest, and with his long flowing locks, cut a dynamic figure through a young boy's mind. Ragsy was my idol. I loved his dashes from half back, his long accurate drop punts, most of all I loved his flair for the game. Ragsy played the game as an entertainer as well as a sportsman - he leapt high to punch or mark, and always seemed to have a bit of the thoroughbred about him - which is probably why after he retired, he took up fox chasing, polo, and riding his beloved thoroughbreds across the paddocks and over the fences of his property, I think he may have even represented Australia at the sport – really, that’s sort of how he played as a footballer. All sinewy muscle, long legs and famous leaps for the saving punch.

Ragsy was part of the great backline that helped revive Carlton's fortunes. Legendary players Wes Lofts, Ian Collins, Kevin 'Racehorse' Hall, Vinnie Waite among them. All great teams have a great defence and the defence that Ragsy was an integral part of was no different. Where others provided the biffo, the muscle or the defensive pressure, Ragsy provided the dash, the flair, the sense of adventure that all great backlines must have. Don't get me wrong, he was tough, all footballers are, but he was also a ballet dancer, a player of such flair that for hours I was John Ragsy Goold in my backyard, kicking the ball his way, dashing forward to gather the ball, elbows flying, running straight, kicking long...

I have had many favourite players while following the Blues, but there will always be a special spot for Ragsy Goold - running the lines, all long hair and flashing, white guards.

As a young man I moved to Carlton and began acting in a place called one-c-one. One night after a play, I was walking home. It was winter, and I was wearing my favouritte overcoat, a genuine ankle length tweed affair I had picked up in an Op Shop in Oakleigh for three dollars. As I strutted across Lygon Street, a deep male voice behind me called, 'hey laddie, how much for the overcoat?'

I turned, and there was my childhood idol, Ragsy Goold, two beautiful women in tow, smiling and waiting for my answer. I loved that coat too much to part with it, even to Ragsy, so I shook my head - and he smiled, then walked off.

I stood for a moment in the middle of the street shaking my head in disbelief. Ragsy bloody Goold had just offered to buy my overcoat! I knew at that point, as a young man of about twenty three, that life was going to be full of surprises and very entertaining - a bit like John ‘Ragsy’ Goold. He was my childhhood hero but I was now a young man, a man setting out to find his own path, a would be writer, a sometime actor - that coat was mine, my 'artist as a young man in Carlton' coat, and separate from those childhood memories of my football heroes, and perhaps that's how things should be.

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