It’s a growing sense of deja vu, for it seems that every second year in this decade up in Rockhampton there’s a natural disaster of some kind. It flooded in 2011, it flooded slightly less in 2013, Marcia came and went leaving a decent mess in 2015, and now Debbie left a bigger mess to the north before flooding Rocky again this year. The Southern media (as usual) have over-dramatised things to the extent where I’ve needed to come on to try to dispel a few myths because many have come to realise that journalism and news reporting is no longer about fact, it’s about the dramatic effect that will lure the viewer.
This flood was originally reported to be barely a major flood, where the Fitzroy River was due to peak at 8.5 metres in Rocky. This was revised to a reported 9.4 metres on Friday evening, but in reality this was a little false. What the warnings said (and many locals fell for this too) was that the peak was projected to be between 9.1-9.4 metres. For the dramatic effect the media saw the 9.4 marker as the trigger to create the headlines hogged by the big wet in the South East corner (then deservedly given to those in the Northern Rivers of NSW, they’ve copped it worse than us). A lot of the local reporting then turned to peaks further up the stream, and there was cause for concern when readings at locations further up the river were reporting peaks higher than what had been recorded before.
Yet as we speak the peak has been revised to a mere 9 metres in Rockhampton, a marker that is about 0.5 metres from being reached at the time of this article. It has resulted in an alteration of travel plans for this weekend (I’m supposed to be in Canberra for an Ultra Marathon, but with the Airport closed since Monday in anticipation given than an 8.8 metre flood covers the runway I’ve had to change the departure port to Gladstone), but it hasn’t changed my availability to report on my usual triple header of Easter Football….well unless I collapse in Canberra and stay there for longer than anticipated.
Yes there are homes that will see water in their yards but it’s certainly not to the extent where some outlets (Sky News) believed that the bulk of the population here needed to be evacuated. Many in that situation are so familiar with the routine they’ll probably use their tinnies to float towards the CBD (which apart from a few car parks by the river that gets flooded easily and perhaps the odd overflowing drain will remain dry), pick up supplies that won’t stop arriving thanks to the bridge constructed to ensure access from the South (yes the shelves on Saturday were devoid of normal bread, panic buying upon word of a flood is worse than the bragging of a Tigers fan when their team is 8th or higher on the ladder), then float back to home base. Roads were closed earlier than normal before inundation in an attempt to reduce the damage bill upon reopening, which could happen by the weekend. In essence despite the town being flooded life still goes on up here, partially because much of the town won’t get affected, partially because we’ve seen it all before.
In the heading I also promised a footy update, and this one comes from the local variety. Yes there will be grounds flooded (the Cricket Grounds are flooded after 8 metres – much like the racecourse so don’t expect Rockhampton gallops to race for a while punters) but the season up here doesn’t start until April 23. This year will be different for me, because the club has a couple of new coaches. The new senior coach is as young as a number of the players but given he’s worked with the Suns Academy program up here perhaps some ideas from that could filter through to the side to get us closer to the finals. As for reserve grade, well the position has gone to some bloke who has….
(a) appeared in senior/reserves for the club no fewer than 225 times
(b) has played since 2000 in just about every position on the team sheet, including team manager. The only position not filled was trainer and even then….
(c) was left out of the most recent premiership sides in 2010, but played in a losing reserves effort the year after
(d) has completed 11 marathons (4 Melbourne, 3 Gold Coast, 2 Canberra, 2 Perth City to Surf)
(e) has NEVER to his knowledge won a match as captain
(f) once used buses, trains and planes just to get to a game in Darwin, then flew back hours after the game
(g) made the Grand Final last year after going around Queensland in 14 hours
OK, enough of the self appraisal head wobbling garbage that many go on with. But yes those who don’t make the senior side this season will have the pleasure of having ME as a coach. That’s right Rodney Eade, start quaking in your boots because I’m gunning for your job…..OK, perhaps that’s a little bit getting carried away, but it’s something that I’m looking forward to. It does for the time being put the playing days on hold, partially because it’s too hard these days to combine playing and coaching even at this level, partially because I’m entered in the grueling Comrades Marathon in South Africa in early June and I’m not risking a contact injury to pursue that ambition (more on that closer to start time). Whilst the game plan will try to mirror what the seniors do with a few minor alterations here or there, a lot will depend on who’s actually in the team. I’m just hoping that I can stay calm enough to talk about it here in the coming weeks.
Due to the coaching and running commitments you may hear less of my reports on the big league this year, but I’m still anticipating going to three games over the Easter weekend plus another trip to the Gold Coast and Cairns (and Perth pending finals) is also on the agenda.