Friends, supporters, members – lend me your ears!

In the days of being a youthful warthog, this journalist dreamt of playing football at the highest level. Of masquerading around the rolling pastures of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, surrounded by 21 comrades, doing battle against 22 highly accomplished enemies.

A battle of skill, awareness and purity. Money was no object. Tribal hymns sung with gusto, arm-in-arm with a fellow solider, a just reward. And fan adoration? Well, it’s nice to know you’re liked from time to time.

Yet an ugly habit has reared its ugly head, dear countrymen; and it is on the subject of Bronx cheering your own players – the mocking of an individual on one’s own team. It’s one of the most disgusting sounds at a live football match these days, and it’s become an all-to-regular thing this season.

Brendan Fevola took to Twitter to demonstrate his dismay toward his former club’s supporters as they ‘bronxed’ skipper Marc Murphy upon winning a clearance. This was the Marc Murphy that was being adored by every single Carlton supporter upon his appointment just five months earlier! Yet it was Chris Scott who put it best, when the Geelong coach challenged the integrity of the Cats fans ‘bronxing’ a clearly lame Tom Hawkins:  “It’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing for all of Geelong. We’ve got some pretty ugly supporters, if that’s the case. They’ve been well looked after for a long period of time, and we expect better.”

So I conclude, my audience. Supporters: if you are not there to fulfil the role your occupation defines – ‘support’ – do not come to games. The players have had a gutful and you will ruin for the true fans of the club.

 

GIVE THE BRONX THE TONK

Football and community. It goes together like a cracker and Brie, like bananas and pyjamas, like…well you get the point.

I credit Leader Newspaper sports journalist Conor Ryan for bringing this one to my attention.

When it comes to playing, loving, living and breathing football, Oscar Groves-Berry is just like any other eight-year-old kid.

Smiling, bubbly and a vivacious personality, Oscar’s take on life shadows his sad reality after being diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The most common type of muscular dystrophy and the most rapid, it is progressive, debilitating and there’s no cure.

Oscar accepts the fact that he will be wheelchair-bound for life in the not-too-distant future. So, when the last home-and-away season match for the Auskick season could be your last, why not make the most of it?

The Upper Ferntree Gully Football Club made Oscar the captain and organised him to run through the banner first. As if that wasn’t a thrill enough, Oscar started forward and started kicking goals. Lots of them.

Deep in the last quarter, Oscar’s condition began to become a little taxing, so he sat in his specially-designed chair. Moments later the ball bobbled towards him, Oscar grabbed the ball and snapped his goal number EIGHT!

That’s right: seven goals, plus one from the chair. To top it all off, Oscar delivered a post-match television interview with Luna Park-like smile. To quote Conor: “It was the stuff of AFL dreams, lived at Auskick level.”

 

VFL: FIX THE FIXTURE

With all things being equal (i.e. clubs staying within the competition), the VFL will become a 16-team league in 2014 with the introduction of Richmond and Footscray as stand alone teams. Surely this off-season is a great time for the VFL administration to have a good hard think about how to maximise the competition’s presence in Australia. For arguably the second-best competition in Australia behind the AFL, the VFL is a dying competition with little interest.

I may be biased in comparing the state league to the WAFL and SANFL – both of which are highly-attended with their community-based clubs – but more has to be done to promote a league of such high-quality football. So here’s a few proposals to get you thinking.

Dear VFL administration,

I will talk about this further, but here are some tips.

–       Give a bye to AFL-affiliated clubs whose AFL side plays interstate on the Sunday;

–       Have no clashes with AFL-affiliated clubs and the AFL side;

–       Align the affiliations and AFL sides as best as possible for each round;

–       And PLAY THEM AS A CURTAIN RAISER!

Sincerely,

One very frustrated VFL audience member.

 

#DILEMMA

It’s no secret that Brodie Grundy’s first five AFL games are quickly establishing him as one of the genuine finds of the 2013 season. Living the dream, what could go wrong?

An avid Twitter user, Brodie, in boredom I assume, tweeted a very fair point to all in cyberspace: “When I see someone hashtag their own name, it’s a key indicator in my decision to never communicate with that person ever, ever again.”

So imagine Brodie’s horror when coach Nathan Buckley, also an avid Twitter user, replied directly to his young ruckman: “#bucks #dilemma”.

 

WHAT THEY SAID

Essendon doctor, Dr Bruce Reid, in the ‘discovered’ letter from January 2012: “I have some fundamental problems being club doctor at present. This…applies to the administration of supplements.”

James Hird draws the previously concealed handgun to kick-start ‘the civil war’: “Throughout the course of this exercise I have been denied natural justice and today’s ambush is just another example of that.”

Sitting beside Hird, Paul Little: “The AFL is determined to punish Essendon…as though they were drug cheats.” Sorry Paul, I know you came late to the party, but surely you haven’t been living under a rock the past six months have you?

Little then arms himself with a bow and arrow to stand alongside Hird: “I call AFL Commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick to take over the process as I have lost total confidence in the AFL executive to handle the issue.”

The voice of reason in crisis, AFL Players Association CEO Matt Finnis: “The injecting of players in the absence of medical supervision; the administering of drugs to players without prescription or approval of the club doctor; the use of drugs which are not approved for human use and substances which are specifically designed for treating ailments not related to athletic performance let alone the evolution of a culture of supplement taking where an experienced club doctor feels he is letting the club down by not automatically approving these things. These are all things that I never expected to see in our sport.”

‘Sarah’ – claiming to be an Essendon parent – with possibly the most human element quote in the whole saga:The stress at home, the stress with my son is intolerable. He is actually contemplating walking away from the sport.”

New Melbourne president Glen Bartlett in his first president’s address: “I am really tired of people making fun at Melbourne Football Club, feeling sorry for Melbourne, not respecting Melbourne. We need to build a culture for the future where nothing other than winning is acceptable.”

MRP Chairman Mark Fraser, every week: “When we slowed the footage down, we say that we had a split-second to contest the ball differently.” Now Mark, bring it in champion. Wake up and smell the roses mate, this game is quick. If we slowed it right down to justify decision-making, I reckon you’d might even sneak a run.

On the MRP, Gerard Whateley on Fox Footy’s 360: “It is appalling that there is a loophole in which the Match Review Panel cannot cite precedent. On that basis, the system is flawed.”

Craig Little, a writer for The Footy Almanac, describing the ‘kind of crazy’ football Carlton played against Richmond: “The kind of crazy that makes Bryce Gibbs look like a number one draft pick with a rookie-listed haircut.”

Jack Watts last week on Thursday’s The AFL Footy Show responding to Shane Crawford’s inquiry on where his contract was at: “I’ll weigh up my options at the end of the year.” Funny, Max Gawn, hasn’t had to throw up on him to make that sort of statement.

The Australian chief football writer, Pat Smith, coins a nickname on 3AW for James Hird, Danny Corcoran, Bruce Reid and Mark Thompson: “The four aminos.” 

 

 

TEAM OF THE WEEK

Oscar Groves-Berry. Refer to the story above. I’ve pulled out of games because of blisters before, he takes pain tolerance to a new level. A foundation “Oscar the Brave” has been founded to help the Groves-Berry family with wheelchair-friendly renovations and general full-time care. For more information on how you can help, visit: http://oscarthebrave.org.au/

Sam Heavyside. The Bendigo Pioneers top-ager has been invited to the State Combine. Toiled manfully after being overlooked the previous year. Won the Pioneers’ Best and Fairest over Ollie Wines as a bottom-ager in 2011.

Aaron Purcell. The Jerilderie full forward booted 23 goals in the final round of the home-and-away season to finish with 211 goals in a single season. Still thinks he’s as inaccurate as Travis Cloke in front goals. One thinks he should attend a Collingwood game more often.

Mike Pyke. Just years ago this guy was playing international rugby for Canada. He now has a Premiership medallion to go in his cabinet. In 2013, he’s kicked 21.3; the most efficient goal kicker for anyone with over 20 goals this year. Could teach some Australian kids how to kick a footy.

Gary Rohan. I’ve lost count how many days it was until he ran on the park last weekend in Swans colours, but it was a lot. A credit to him to muster the courage and motivation to get back.

Ed Curnow. Kept Trent Cotchin to just 14 touches in Carlton’s win over Richmond and arguably was the aggressor that the Blues so desperately craved. Kept Gary Ablett to a very respectable 24 touches just three weeks earlier. Only his fashion needs to improve.

Brodie Grundy. What can be said that hasn’t already been said about this young man? Outside Jaeger O’Meara, the most exciting new talent of 2013.

Western Bulldogs. Inspiring football. Showing the benefits of good drafting under a not just a coach, but a tutor, in Brendan McCartney.

Nathan Grima. First goal in 72 matches. Much adored both internally and externally down at Arden St. The celebration justified the milestone.

Brent Harvey. Yesterday signed a deal to keep him at the club till the end of 2014. Your move, Dustin Fletcher.

Aaron Davey. Brock McLean said it best: “So many players drafted due to Aaron Davey when he started that high pressure small forward role in 2004. Well done on a great career Flash.”

South Kangaroos (NT). Currently homes Liam Jurrah as well as many other young Indigenous men from different sides of the feud that sent Jurrah’s AFL career down the drain. Having built a solid club over the past three seasons, the Kangaroos will play in their first Preliminary Final this weekend.

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