It’s a funny thing: this NAB Challenge. And, as we all know, it’s an even funnier thing: life.
I find it a source of great amusement that the AFL would look to cricket for some marketing ideas and complete a straight-copy of the Big Bash Frivolity.
Eighteen games in eighteen days may have worked through the lazy days of summer when we were all imbibing soda and pretzels and beer. It’s not working the same way now the reality of the daily grind has hit in and people are waiting for four changes of the lights to turn right into Magic Faraway Boulevard. (Yet we should be thankful: God gave us heavy traffic so that The Ox and Mark Allen would sound sharp).
The NAB Challenge scheduling has some positives: the opportunity to see the grounds of Australia. (Love Wang, and Townsville, which is what the Gabba would look like if not encircled by concrete modernity, and looking forward to Traeger Park in the centre on Friday evening); and the fact that you can IQ the footy and watch Cartlon v Adelaide instead of Q and A.
But that’s it: not everyone knows what IQ is. Because IQ means Foxtel. And that is why footy is not in the conversation at the moment. It is not on free-to-air TV. It may be on phones and tablets and rosettas and tapestries, but it just ain’t where most people are, and I can’t see why Channel 7 would interrupt their stellar stable of paint-drying, cake-baking, dancing, singing crap to cover footy matches played by teams which include the boot-studder’s nephew and the bloke who won the raffle in the social club the Friday before.
That’s the other problem. Who does the Match Committee select? And will there be any hint of a red-hot go? What is the purpose of it all?
Yet I have still tuned in, because, knowing my weakness, the AFL, having conditioned me in such a way in recent years that when I open the front door I am drawn, like Bill Clinton to a cigar, towards the loungeroom to put the footy on, feed my chronic addiction.
So last night, after the kids went to bed, and I was chastised for even contemplating a small glass of red, on went the tele. Port Adelaide. No doubt you have worked out that I have always loved Ken Hinkley and I have been drawn to contemporary Port. Oh, and they’re playing Essendon. Didn’t think anything of it as I was half-planning the rest of the week and other banalities (like wondering where the vacuum cleaner was).
Then it happened.
That beautiful little bald man rolled onto the screen, beating a trio of mortals, and sending a handball into the path of a teammate.
“Chappy!” I yelled.
I had completely forgotten. But what a drug. Like a shot of adrenalin, seeing Chappy brought me to life. I even called for The Handicapper.
I wasn’t happy to see Chappy in the red sash. And I didn’t deal with it well.
Chappy will be an asset at the Bombers and all credit to M. Thompson. Dare I say, Chappy has been an under-rated footballer because he has not been a key-position player, nor a classic mid-fielder, nor anything in particular. He is a utility, albeit a goal-kicking utility. He brings class, skill, strength, determination, smarts, a sense of what is required in the moment, and he understands that footy games are to be won. All process rhetoric was consigned early to the bottom of Locker 35 to fester with smelly socks, half-sucked barley sugars and his trusty Acme Atlas Chest Expander.
Chappy is a great player.
So while I am disappointed he’s not in the hoops, I will no doubt keep an eye on him for the season.
Well played old son. And all the very best.
Life goes on, in that funny-peculiar way, which makes melancholy trumps.