Dusty, Erin and The Wahoo Coots
The advertising algorithms used by social media can be scary. Look up a second-hand couch on eBay and all of a sudden your Facebook feed is full of ads for furniture stores. Turn forty, it’s hair loss products and funeral plans! An ad that popped up last September as the Dogs were living footy’s ultimate dream caught my eye, there was going to be seven-a-side footy on Glenferrie Oval on Wednesday nights over the off season. I put the feelers out to the boys.
All rapidly entering our mid-forties with waistlines going out and hairlines going up it was time to get the Wahoo Coots back together for another gallop around the paddock.
Thereafter for 32 minutes every Wednesday night for the last five months, we’ve chased the pill around the Hawks’ hallowed turf. As family, career, divorce and illness, LIFE, has kept our visits to a minimum over the last few years, all of a sudden a group of old school mates and teammates were catching up every week. The game may have only taken 32 minutes but the post-game beers and stories could stretch into the night. Mobile phones would be held up as beacons so Uber Eats drivers could find us out in Glenferrie centre square.
There was brilliance, high farce, triumph and the ultimate disappointment of a grand final defeat. But the boys all shed a few kilos and a season in the Masters is even on the cards. You can’t beat going out there and kicking the footy.
And so the real stuff started and the real stuff finished over the weekend. The Tigers beat the Blues to get the men’s season under way and the Crows beat the Lions to win the granny in the AFLW.
The individual brilliance of Dusty Martin and Erin Phillips was obvious to all to see in those two games, but a couple of other footy highlights caught my eye. Stopping in to see the last quarter and a half of the Tigers v Blues in the VFL at Punt Road, it was great to see Ivan Maric putting in a good performance in the ruck. He must have been feeling good too; in the last quarter he decided to take on all comers and dashed into the forward fifty before being caught holding the ball. One of the young Blues players decided to let him know about it and gave him a bit of a shove after the fact. Big Marra didn’t like that and set off after him like he was auditioning for The Wahoo Coots. He caught his man in the centre square, but today’s game being what it is could inflict no more damage than a friendly cuddle.
In the big game at the G I loved Bachar Houli’s chase of Matthew Wright down the members’ wing. They had sprinted as far as Dusty Martin had torpedoed the ball that quarter. Bachar didn’t catch him but he didn’t give up either and has was absolutely spent. Sometimes your best isn’t quite enough, but it’s enough to show that you’re in the game.
Before the AFLW Grand Final on Sunday I took in the exhibition “Leather Poisoning” at The Counihan Gallery in Brunswick. I had a yarn to the curator Victor Griss about what had been his labour of love over many years. On the wall and on the cover of the catalogue is a photo of the Richmond Cheer Squad taken in 1974 by legendary photographer Rennie Ellis. It was the first football season I was alive and the first football season I was taken to a game as babe-in-arms. The Genesis of my love of the game (and the Tigers!).
After Erin Phillips had starred in the Crows’ premiership on Sunday she was asked why she had come back to play footy after all she’d done in basketball, she simply said: “I love the game.”
PS. Leather Poisoning is at The Counihan Gallery in Sydney Rd, Brunswick until April 9. Free entry. DETAILS HERE
PPS. Marcellin College Masters Football Club, “The Baldies” train at Marcellin College, Bulleen. Wednesdays 6.00pm and Sundays 8.30am.