Gazza goes nuts and the French girls don’t care

By Peter Flynn

Milburn out. Lonergan in. Suggestions that Bomber was overruled at the selection table. Believe! West is unlucky and Mumford gets his chance to impress. I sit myself down in preparation for an even contest. I am next to two strikingly good looking French girls who don’t appear to share my anticipation for the upcoming battle. They are on Facebook. I am in the library of the Manathai Village Resort in Chiang Mai about to “watch” this Round-4 clash via the 2009 AFL Match Centre (known hereafter as the crazy dot caper or CDC for short).

Mosquitoes abound and the smell of peppermint incense replaces liniment in this beautiful Lanna-style room. I want to inform the girls of the game and mention that the Geelong theme song music is the same music used to introduce razeteurs (pseudo matadors) in bull games held in Arles, France. Then I remember a central tenet of travel: don’t try to explain cricket to an American.

The CDC is a wealth of information pertaining to the game including all manner of statistics. For the uninitiated, the game is played out virtually on a diagram of a football oval. Dots represent who has the ball and where, while comment boxes associated with each dot describe the manner of possession and the mode of disposal. Lines joining the dots indicate the length and direction of each disposal. The Crows are in red and blue dots while Geelong are in white dots.

The game begins. Geelong’s first goal, at the two-minute mark of the opening stanza, is described as follows on CDC. Wojcinski (uncontested mark, play on, short kick) to Stokes (uncontested mark, ineffective kick inside fifty, spoil) to Johnson (loose ball get, short kick) and Johnson goals. The French girls don’t care.

At the six-minute mark, Corey (loose ball get, short kick) to Hawkins (free kick, short kick) to Stokes (uncontested mark, play on, short kick inside fifty) to Johnson (gather, short kick) to Ablett (contested mark and goal). It must have been some goal from the pocket.

Steve Johnson’s dots portray cleverness and creativity. Joel Selwood’s dots indicate a fierce desire to win the ball (hard ball get appears often in the comment box). Tom Hawkins’ dots suggest occasional unselfishness (i.e. clanger). The modal dot belongs to Little Gazza and what appears to be the genesis of a handballing master class. As each play sequence appears on the screen, I try to identify each line and dot construction with a star constellation. Geelong’s incessant use of handball means their play sequences resemble constellations such as Canis Major, Taurus or Orion.

It is now half-time with Geelong up by eighteen points after the Crows fought back to kick the last four goals of the second quarter. My mind tries to make sense of the CDC. Where have I seen this before? I then have an epiphany. The CDC is a virtual, real-time diagrammatic version of the match reports published in The Sporting Globe late each Saturday afternoon. The difference is the language used to describe the game.

Wouldn’t it be great if the CDC possessed a library of phrases for its comment boxes that used 1970s vernacular to describe play sequences? Phrases used by Mike Williamson such as “stacks on the mill” or “Jack Hill the blind miner would have seen that” would certainly add colour and oomph. I then relive famous moments from the past and visualise how they would be depicted on CDC. McKay (long kick) to Jesaulenko (contested mark, long kick inside fifty) doesn’t have the same ring as Williamson’s classic utterance, “JESAULENKO, YOU BEAUTY”. On the flip side, the CDC would capture Jack Dyer’s description of the Nankervis brother’s herring-bone style of football very effectively. They were thirty years ahead of their time.

The third quarter is an arm wrestle with Geelong appearing to have the upper hand despite some dogged resistance from the Crows. As expected, Geelong pile on plenty of “dot” pressure early in the final quarter. They kick seven goals to two for the quarter to run out comfortable winners by eight goals.

Best players for Geelong were the usual suspects, with Little Gazza the standout. After the final siren, I walk off to the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar wondering whether any player has had more than 33 handballs in a game. I remember Peter Featherby got 43 kicks against Melbourne one day. My wife asks me whether Little Gazza is a better player than his Dad.

Hmmmm.

Time to reflect.

As I tuck into my third Chang longneck (at 6.4 per cent, a beer to be respected) and banana roti, I can’t help but think that any Crows fans in Chiang Mai would be having a sook-sook as they ride about town in their tuk-tuk.

Comments

  1. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Entertaining PF What are your thoughts of Gaz snr v junior My take is senior more explosive and breathtakingly brilliant . Junior more consistent , harder worker slightly more team orientated certainly two of the greatest players in history

  2. Peter Flynn says:

    This was my first ping at the stumps Rulebook.

    It’s senior for mine.

    Each week there was at least one party trick that would leave you shaking your head in disbelief.

    Cheers,

    PF

  3. These are the difficult questions for sure. Ablett snr vs Ablett jnr? I lean to Junior. The only other father/son question that perplexes me in a similar way is the Earles. Steve vs Justin Townes. And in that case I lean to Junior as well. There is a dazzling depth to the quality of both young Gazza and Justin Townes that gets them across the line in a parlour game that really has no definitive answer. One thing we will agree on Mr Flynn is Chang beer, Thailand style. I’m getting thirsty for one as I type.

  4. Well Rick, I’m a senior man with reference to the Earles. But that is probably more to do with hi work with the best live band in the world, The Supersuckers.. I’d go for junior with the Abletts, will always lean towards the team oriented, consistent player over the spectacular every day. Still enjoyed the respective oeuvres of the 2nd placebgetters though.

  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Was never a big fan of Sammy Davis Sr, but he did get to play alongside his son

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