General Footy Writing: Dangerman is a safe bet for a big future with the Crows

By Bob Utber

I adored Peter Pianto; I even ran around with my socks down when I kicked all those goals in the paddock. Doug Wade was a king and Billy Goggin was, well, Billy Goggin. Then after a long break, in fact an eternity, along came God himself, and from my neck of the woods as well: West Gippsland. I even selected the great Gary Ablett in an inter-league side against the Mornington Peninsula league team when he was 16, and of course he won the game for us. I can recite all the Geelong premiership teams and the blood in my veins is blue and white.

My sons were both talented footballers. One played a practice match for Geelong at Bulleen one day but came up against a young Chris Johnston for Fitzroy. He died in a car accident the next year.

Imagine my dismay when I read an article about Patrick Dangerfield written by my fellow Pivotonian John Harms, saying that young Pat could stay in Adelaide and even become captain of the Crows. Heaven forbid – Father John Brosnan would turn in his grave. How could another of our boys be lost from the Cattery?

I have followed the career of young Dangerfield all his life. I know his mother and father very well. Both were excellent at sport. His father, John, played in four senior premierships in a row in the Bellarine league, three with Newcomb and one with Anglesea. His mother, Janette, ran the length of a field to hit the winning goal in a hockey Grand Final on the Peninsula that is still talked about.  There was something about winning in this family. Mum still runs five kilometres per day in the Angahook Forest, just outside Moggs Creek on Victoria’s West Coast, and organises her work life around playing netball and tennis, and running.

I’ve played a bit of cricket and football with young Patrick myself. Talk about a competitive streak! The youngster would keep at it until he won the battle. The only thing I think I taught him was “to smell the ball”. I was talking cricket of course, but I notice he has taken that in to his football.  His father did tell him as a 12-year, “You have to get your own ball if you want it”. I think he has already been KO’d three times in this, his first full, season with the Crows.

I remember his Dad saying to me one day, “I think the boy can play a bit”. The Dangerman was about 12 at the time and he was already barging through packs like there was no tomorrow.  As they say in the classics – the rest is history.

In this case history has had some interesting twists and turns. If it had not been for the persistence of Leon Harris, Dangerfield might have slipped through the net. As a junior development officer, Harris worked like he played his football with Fitzroy: he was a terrier in his endeavours to get the young tyro from Moggs Creek into the AIS squad. And he succeeded. In the same squad were Daniel Rich, Trent Cotchin, Nick Natanui, Cale Morton and Brad Ebert.

Patrick spent 2007 at school in Geelong. All clubs were told that he would put school first in 2008 but he still hoped to be taken in the national draft in late 2007. His family were keen to see him stay in Geelong and play with the Cats, as he had been part of the Falcons squad for four years, but it seemed most unlikely as my beloved Cats had pick 17 after winning the flag. Patrick is not is boastful but he candidly said before the draft, “I think I could go top 12”.  Coming from some one who carefully choses his words, this was a big statement. But he was right.

We all know that the football people in Adelaide come from another planet but when Crows recruiting manager Matt Rendell called Patrick’s name at number 10 in the 2007 draft, in front of a member of Adelaide football’s imperial family, Brad Ebert, all hell broke lose.  Ebert is like the younger Tucks in Victoria: great pedigree. He has a top sire and a dam from the Obst family – he could not be more South Australian.

Writing in the only Adelaide paper, The Advertiser, former Crows captain Chris McDermott wanted to call war when the Crows overlooked Ebert in favour of Dangerfield. Fortunately Patrick Dangerfield takes everything in its stride. As he said at the time, “It wasn’t my choice. I had no say in it”.  McDermott now eats his words, and is full of praise for the courageous and “likely leader” Dangerfield.

At 15 Patrick’s ambition was to play league football, own a boat and buy a house. At 19 he has played 18 games of league football, purchased a boat and is now looking for a house near the beach. The beach is important to him. After all he’s spent all his life living on the beach, spending his spare time either fishing or surfing, and he comes from a family of Dangerfields who believe that surfing is the closest thing to heaven, even if they are Catholic. Patrick even got an Enter score that would have got him into marine biology.

He is a quiet, unassuming young man who has football in perspective.  It is a game, and a game he enjoys playing, and while he is playing he will give it his best.  Already the Crows hierarchy has him lined up for bigger things.  He quite often acts as a spokesperson for the club, and he was the only young player to speak on camera for Andrew MacLeod’s 300th game.  Many have him pegged as a future captain, perhaps after Nathan van Berlo, such is his demeanour and the respect he holds around the club.  Many people at the club have told me this.

Perhaps Patrick’s biggest attribute, and one which we all admire, is his love for family. With one sister, Bethany, 38 cousins, as well as uncles and aunties and other relatives by the score, family is very important.  When he was last in Geelong 26 family members turned up for dinner at his aunt’s house to celebrate his return home, even for such a brief period.  The smile on his face outweighed the pain he had in his back.  Watch out for Bethany as well, as she has what it takes to become a top-class netballer.

How do I know all this? I just happen to be one proud grandfather, who is not prone to praise, but this is a wonderful young man who will be an ornament to the game, and a success in life in general.

About Bob Utber

At 75 years of age, 'Citrus Bob' Utber is doing what he wanted to do as a 14-year old: writing, talking and watching sport. How good is that!?! He lives in Mildura with his wife and 'furry kids'; a labradoodle "Freddy Flintoff" and a groodle named "Chloe on Flinders".

Comments

  1. haiku bob says:

    and I didn’t pick it until you said it!

    Great piece Bob.

    I’m a fan.

  2. Bloodstainedangel says:

    Excellent Bob. BSA

  3. John Kingsmill says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed this piece, Pops.

  4. This is a great insight. No wonder you’re proud. He’s a beauty, even if he has crossed the time zone, and clearly a good young man also. I remember Vin Maskell writing of his debut match in last year’s Footy Almanac. Bet Paddy’d have plenty to say about his Grandad!

  5. Steve Healy says:

    Great piece. Dangerfield has made a big impact for the Crows from the start of the year. Hopefully he can come back this week from injury.

  6. johnharms says:

    Bob

    Love your piece Bob.

    Love the explanation of the genes. And the reference to Father Brosnan turning in his grave.

    Would have young Patrick at the Pivotonians any day.

    Wonderful insights.
    Thanks
    JTH

  7. Thank you Bob, what a great piece.

    I can assure you we all love Dangermouse over here. While I have not met him, his character is evident in the way he conducts himself on field and off. He is an asset to our club.

  8. Being Patrick Dangerfield’s grandfather, Bob Utber writes with not a little bias. And with a hell of a lot of pride. And why not, eh?
    Good stuff.

  9. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Sounds like you’re going to finally get your wish JTH

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