Friday Night Fun

by Shane Kennedy


It has been a little over two years since Dad died.

As the coach of my school’s grade 5/6 football team, I always play one of the better players loose a kick behind the play.

Each time our loose man takes a comfortable chest mark, I think of Dad.

He taught me that.

In 1988, when I was in the Under 11’s.

Back then, he had no fancy name for it. It was kept very simple. Position yourself a kick behind the play and let the opposition kick it to you.

If I sneak up to watch a quarter or two of local footy. I prefer to watch it from the boundary line, away from the social club. Where I can hear the players and feel a minute part of the action.

Dad always did this.

Friday afternoon’s school bell is a sweet sound. It is the end of the working week and start of the weekend, but it also heralds Friday night fun. A big night in our house.

There was a period in my life when Friday night was the absolute highlight of my week. I am not sure of the dates, and to be honest, I don’t want to look into it too much for fear of proving to myself that it all occurred over a rare 2-3 week period. I prefer the version in my head that had this happening for seasons on end.

Dad would come home with a couple of longnecks (Fosters), nuts (Nobby’s), a bottle of soft drink (Coke) and some chips (Samboy, hopefully BBQ but sometimes the far inferior Chicken). All these were sourced from the bottle shop on the way home from work.

Most, if not all, of the (five) boys would join Dad upstairs to settle in to watch the game.

I am not sure what Mum did downstairs, but it most probably involved revelling in some peace and quiet.

I know it was early 90’s because I have vivid memories of Wayne Carey’s strut. I also recall him turning it on in the last quarter to get the Kangas over the line.

Then, after the footy we would switch to the ABC to watch NBA and hope that Michael Jordan would do the same for the Bulls. Dad used to hate any of “that American hootin and hollerin,” but even he would get excited to see Jordan demand the ball and drag his team over the line with another monumental second half effort.

While I still watch Friday night footy, between the AFL and Channel 7, a lot of the magic has been lost. Too often I find myself trying to watch an Essendon vs Western Bulldogs fixture and feeling nothing.

Not even my Supercoach team can help me. It is hard to cheer on Dyson Heppell alone. Especially when you know it will be well after 11:00pm before a result is known.

Tonight’s game is different. As an Eagles supporter living in Geelong, I have a stake in this one.

The Eagles are building something. We are not yet genuine top 4 material but I did predict a top 8 finish this year. Hopefully we can peak before the impending new dawn of Suns’ and Giants’ dominance.

Players like LeCras, Kennedy, Cox, Kerr and Waters are simply too good to be on the bottom of the ladder. With the youngsters no longer panicking when in possession and some reliable targets up forward we are becoming a more balanced team.

I reckon Dad would have enjoyed watching Nic Nat. He is not a footballer, he is a showman. Things seem to happen when goes near the ball. Not always good things, but things nonetheless.

The Cats play the game as it should be played. Simply beautiful to watch. It is very hard to think of a player that I don’t like who plays for Geelong. Especially now that Mooney is languishing in the magoos and I have Stevie J in my Supercoach team

Jimmy Bartel would be one of Dad’s. A no nonsense player with a real footy brain. When an opposition player gets on top of Ling, he will often move to them. When the game is on the line, he lifts. When the opposition forwards are getting it too easy, he drifts back behind the play to cut off the supply. Like Carey and Jordan, he is the one that will put in a big last quarter when needed.

Tonight, I’m going to enjoy a beer (Coopers) and some chips (Kettle Sweet Chilli and Sour Cream) while I sit back and enjoy Friday night footy.

And when Jimmy Bartel drops a kick behind play to stop the easy delivery to Kennedy, LeCras and Darling, I won’t mind in the slightest.

 

About Shane Kennedy

An Eagles supporter living near Geelong. Thankful the Cats have tasted recent success as it means supporters forget '92/'94. My footy intake is restricted to Channel 7 (with no wide screen) and ABC radio. I may not know the score, quarter or time remaining, but I know I hate Brian Taylor's commentary on Saturday nights.

Comments

  1. Tony Bull says:

    Nice, appreciation of football at its best.

  2. Nice one Shane.

    How does a bloke in Geelong barrack for West Coast?

  3. Thanks Shane. Sure your Dad would be proud of your piece.
    I have not felt the tingle of anticipation like todays for many years. Sitting at my work desk, waiting for knock off to head to Subi. Clear, still, dry, cold night. Awesome for their runners and our markers.
    I felt confident until I did my tips this morning and looked at the skill and speed of the Cats runners.
    Eagles by 4 points for mine – but Harmsy has tipped us. I think he is trying to put the mock on us.

  4. It’s funny the associations we build and become attached to, isn’t it?

    I’m not a beer fan, but look forward to one or two when watching the Cats play.

    Nice piece Shane. Got me reminiscing.

  5. Clearsighted says:

    Lovely piece, Shane.
    You are generous and fair in your praise of players and you evoke wonderful, universal memories of our Dads – be they with us in body or in spirit.
    My Dad was Welsh. He had that lilt in his voice and his slate grey eyes would shine bright blue when a story was upon him – which was a lot. Fridays were big with us too and it was the Cadbury’s dairy milk hidden somewhere in his pockets that I always looked for.
    A mad Cats fan, the day after Geelong won the premiership in 1963, he stood, sadly at the deathbed of his father, contemplating the dichotomy of fortune that is life.
    His father, who had not moved nor spoken for hours, lifted – with his last breath – from the pillow and said: “Well, boyo, they did it.”

  6. Richard Naco says:

    Great piece, Shane.

    And I envy you. During my brief & distinctly unglorious sporting career at school, my parents did not attend a single game of mine, nor ever take me to the footy.

    I now take my son at every opportunity.

  7. Thanks for the kind responses knackers. Happy to get positive feedback on my debut piece.

    @Dips, started playing footy in Perth before moving to Melbourne in the early 80’s. By the time the Eagles entered the comp, I wanted to be different to all the Collingwood supporters at home, so I jumped on.

    @PeterB, I’m going to be pessimistic again and pick the Cats, and pretty easily in the end. It should close for a fair bit, before the class prevails.

    As an aside, I’ve vetoed the Coopers and selected a nice Bellarine Peninsula Pinot. Seems to go well with the fire. Hopefully this doesn’t spoil the magic!

  8. Dad would be proud. I had a long lunch for my birthday, settled in for the big game and then feel asleep in the third quarter and had to ask the result when I woke up after channel seven had finally wrapped it up.
    Daniel Kennedy

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