You can’t blame interstate footballers for wanting to get back home and Victorian-based players to seek solace overseas at this time of the year. The risk you take is that when reality caves in and you return “home”, it might not hold a place for you any more.
Welcome to the worst period of the year, where players are treated like pawns on a chessboard by those claiming to be “in the know” and shopped around to all parts of the nation like party hire equipment.
Yes, you may attest certain grumpiness hovering over this journalist. Jonathon Horn describes beautifully the life of an AFL footballer with its “stifling monoculture, its petty punishments, its missionary zeal and its Big Brother scrutiny”. Trade week is the Goliath and our kings of the castle who put on the greatest show on earth for us – consistently, for 31 weeks of the year – are David. But there’s very rarely a happy ending at the end of it; just a sense of relief.
I will finish this little tirade with an extract of a wonderful article by ex-Hawthorn footballer-turned The Age columnist, Tim Boyle: “This perennial inflation in the coverage of players’ lives has become so accepted as to be an almost redundant observation. But much of what I’ve seen this year has been at such a remove from the joy of watching the sport that it has become vulgar.”
Times are a-changing, and one hopeless imbecile’s complaints as he writes columns for BFGN won’t halt any of society and media’s progress. Yet, Mr Boyle, I do salute you.
HERE’S TO YOU EDDIE BETTS
It takes every fibre of my being to not call Eddie Betts a “casualty” of the trade/free agency period, especially given the free agency period was an initiative of the AFL Players Association beginning last year.
Yet Eddie had his future held as a treachery, had it scrutinised and virtually decided for him. Do we forget the part where he was the main breadwinner of a young family? Do we forget that there is a life after sport? Do we forget that we, as a public, are so ready to label footballers as ‘stupid’ when they are unsuccessful in forging a career after footy?
Eddie Betts did what any father, husband and/or breadwinner would do for the good of his family. An opportunity of more money, a fresh start, a new life.
Eddie contributed more to the Carlton Football Club than fifty per cent of the players who have walked through the doors as Visy Park have. In times of darkness for a proud club, he provided light, wizardry and a reason to turn up each and every week.
With his partner Anna, Lewis Edward Betts could not be luckier to have two better humans as parents. Eddie always wanted to be a father and, just like on the field, he will excel as the man of the house. Just ask any AFL supporter who offered their kid up for a photo opportunity with Eddie; they will tell you that he gave them so much more than just the time of day.
Agreed, it is sad that Carlton’s “three amigos” are no longer. But as I said before, times are a-changing, and this ruthless life doesn’t slow down for anyone.
BREAKING THE HORRID NEWS
As if being a parent wasn’t hard enough with filling in the child the horrible truth of the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus (NB: if there are any kids who just read this, meaning I’ve just burst a childhood bubble, I’m awfully sorry).
Now parents are having to sit their child down – particularly one’s owned a brown and gold number 23 jersey or a black and white number 13 one – and explain to them that their hero’s have left their club.
But parents are finding a way not previously available, of being able to shift the guilt back onto the player. Twitter, parents are in eternal gratitude. This was the best one from the week, tweeted to Dale Thomas: “Daisy, your (sic) a mecinary to our proud football club leaving to Carlscum*…any chance of RT (retweet) for my daughter’s birthday? You were her favourite player!”
*That’s how Collingwood supporters feel about Carlton, clever isn’t it?
REFLECTION OF EMOTION
One positive element of the end of the year is the best and fairest awards. Sitting at a table at the Northern Blues’ Laurie Hill Trophy night, the feeling of mateship among the group was noticeably evident.
The Blues, formerly the Preston Bullants and the Northern Bullants, have always prided themselves on spirit, team and mateship, despite being one of the poorer clubs in the VFA and now VFL competition.
The passion for success as a cohesive unit still burns for Carlton’s VFL affiliate who have gone two years with a finals campaign and seven finals campaigns in the last decade without a premiership.
But you get the feeling that with speeches like the one given by co-captain Andre Gianfagna, the young Blues are headed in the right direction: “If you walk away from this year happy and if you think this club is not your home club; that it will be a club you’ll be at for just two or three years, then we’re not going to get far as a team. This is our home club. From day one next year, anyone who walks in for pre-season calls this their home club, and we’re going to win a premiership together.”
WHAT THEY SAID
“One thing that gets lost in the whole thing is that it was actually a bloody good goal.” North Melbourne’s Nathan Grima still lapping it up at the Syd Barker Medal, about the moment he kicked his first AFL goal against Essendon earlier in the year.
“You can see he says, ‘Who’s the man? I’m the man. Get around me boys.’ Turn it up Narny.” Grima’s teammate Brent Harvey on Grima’s celebration of his first AFL goal.
Dean Robinson’s lawyer, Grant Walker: ”He just wanted to be treated like everyone else and just wasn’t. Everyone else got a fair chance and Essendon made a point of standing by everybody but him.”
“I love this club and the fact that we get to play in front of 70,000 people every week, I can’t understand why you would want to leave.” A section of Dane Swan’s acceptance speech after he came runner-up in the Copeland Trophy. Got a few ideas on who he might be talking about.
“My short term memory has never been a strength of mine, can’t believe I don’t remember having a falling out with Mick!!” Andrew Walker’s tweet on Thursday afternoon.
“We won’t be going down that path again.” Carlton football operations manager, Andrew McKay on trying to negotiate deals with Essendon.
“The stubbornness of Angus Johnson (and fellow board members) not to let the members have there say is astounding, Legal shenanigans like a man floating in the middle of the ocean You can struggle but eventually you sink and drown. Fresh start will come.” Leigh Matthews taking to Twitter to vent over the situation of the Brisbane Lions board.
Lance Franklin: “I want success straight away and that’s the reason I chose Sydney.” But Buddy, didn’t you just have success? Like a couple of weeks ago?
Tim Boyle in his The Age column: “This week…’What do you think about Buddy’ has been the conversational match for ‘How about this wind?’” And aren’t we sick of it…
Newly-appointed Essendon coach Mark Thompson telling us what we already knew: “I think I’ve been a little bit disappointing in my role in the last three years. I haven’t achieved what I wanted to achieve.”
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Dale Thomas. Wriggled his way out of Collingwood to join mentor, Mick Malthouse at Carlton.
Jordan Bannister. The ex-Blue and ex-Bomber hung up the AFL professional umpiring whistle, to look after brother Rick, who became a quadriplegic in April. Tickets still available to the Ricky Bannister Fund Night, visit the website: http://rickybannister.com.au/
Shane Hockey. Took him three tries to get onto Frankston’s VFL list in recent years but was crowned the club best and fairest on Saturday night.
Angus Johnson. Slowly becoming the most unpopular figure in Queensland.
Mark Thompson. Forced to eat his words and become a senior coach again. Essendon are in dire straits for 2014 and we’re still not even there yet.
Ben McEvoy. Was the winner of the Hawthorn-St Kilda trade on Wednesday morning that left every completely baffled. At 24, he is a developed ruckman with leadership qualities, leaving an unstable club for a stable one.
Chris Connolly. Infamously part of the ‘tanking’ scandal that saw Dean Bailey thrown under the bus. Was yesterday sacked from Melbourne in a “structural overhaul”.
Derek Hine. Been in the game a long time and has landed Collingwood, a team a lot better than their eight placing in 2013 suggests, in another great position for the draft securing picks 10 and 11.
Eddie McGuire. Well worth a viewing of his speech he delivered at the Copeland Trophy. This talk of a ‘culture change’ might be the shift the Pies, even after recent success, very much need.
Kane Lambert. Won the Northern Blues best and fairest by 84 votes in a resounding victory. Some recruiter with half a brain needs to give this bloke a go at AFL level, they’ll be hallowed as god above men if they do.