There’ll be plenty of beers after the game

 

by Glenn Harris

 

You know I remember it like one of those things from your childhood that is ingrained into your brain and will never leave you. It was a few months before my 43rd birthday. I was tired, bruised and on my way home.

 

As we drove down the long straights towards Boddington, I kept on staring straight ahead in some kind of trance, just thinking over and over “there’ll be plenty of beers after the game”, “there’ll be plenty of beers after the game”, “and there’ll be plenty of beers after the game”.

 

It was early morning, Dumbleyung was nearly a two hour drive from Boddington, I was on my way over on the “D” grade (under 13) bus with a couple of other dads, one of them Nev.

Footy season was in full swing again! Both my boys played and I was the coach of the development squad in Auskick, it was a good time of the year.

Apart from the early rises I didn’t mind these road trips; it was a good opportunity to mix it up with the boys, talk about the game and all the other stuff young boys laugh and talk about at that age, usually girls.

The young boys played well and had a win; it’s always good to see their efforts pay off at that age.

 

I knew the seconds (B grade) were running short this year especially on the road trips and I had been asked a couple of times to play, but hadn’t. “Give me a break, I’m 42, my footy career expired years ago”

I sat with my boys after their game to watch the C grade and I couldn’t help thinking that this might be the day.

During the game the senior’s bus carrying both teams arrived, I counted 22 players get off; the bus was for both “A” and “B” teams

I pulled my collar up and started to squirm in my pockets and boots, and as I turned my head, I thought “this is not good”

 

Nev was closer to the change rooms than me and I could see Boof the B grade captain talking to him, “this is it” I thought, “there’s no way were getting out of this one”

5 mins later I was in the change rooms with Nev and the boys (“B” grade)

 

Neither of us had any gear; Nev was the same age as me but built completely different. I was fairly tall and a little skinny (I said a little!) Nev was shorter and stockier. A couple of the players had a spare pair of boots and we were thrown some shorts and jumper each.

 

All the other players were dressed by now and into some light warm ups so we were in a bit of a rush. I didn’t notice it at first but as we started to get dressed a couple of the guys kept looking over. As I was putting my boots on I looked at Nev and realised what was happening.

Nevs shorts were parachutes and he wasn’t to keen on wearing undies.

I don’t know were the guys got our gear but it couldn’t have been any worse.

Nev is a short bloke with a pair of parachute shorts and boots that looked too big for him; I’m tall with a pair of Warwick Capper shorts (I’m sure they belonged to a D grade player) and a pair of boots that were definitely too big for me. It wasn’t good.

 

We joined the warm ups (not sure though if you could call what we were doing as warm ups, definitely not how I remember it) – that’s when I noticed most of the team were overweight, but they were good blokes and having a go.

 

Snowy our coach told us to gather around as he presented the white board and discussed our positions; I found it a little hard to hear him from all the guys puffing after the warm ups.

Looking into the other bloke’s eyes it was obvious we were in trouble. Snowy told Nev to head up to the forward pocket. “Ah this is great, he’s going to look after us older blokes”, I thought. “Glenn you can go down to the back pocket.” When I lifted my jaw off the ground, I noticed the other guys had a bit of an evil grin; no one wanted to play in the backline today.

 

Well it was time, Snowy revved us up and told us to get out there. We all ran out onto the ground to the usual beeping of horns and encouragement. I reckon I was only a couple of metres out the door when I realised that the boots I was wearing were like trying to run in flippers. I had to raise my legs higher than usual while running, to stop myself from tripping over, the crowd (about 20 people) must have been thinking “what’s he doing?” I looked like a complete idiot.

 

The rain was just starting as we made our way down to the goals. We all started to do some stretches; god, it was all an act for the crowd! We couldn’t do them properly otherwise there would be too many injuries before the game started.

We did a bit of end to end stuff handball and kicking, (most of the guys were puffing again by now) and then the captain called us “bring it in boys!”

 

“Ah this it” I thought, the big pick me up speech were the captains words raise your enthusiasm and spirits so you run out pumped.

 

We all gathered around in anticipation, “Bring it in closer boys” we had our arms around each others shoulders as the wise words of an experienced captain rolled out,

 

“Boys we’ve come a long way, we’ll probably get flogged, but there’ll be plenty of beers after the game.”

 

I didn’t know what to think, my expectations were shot; I did some strange running movements again down to the backline, a confused man with a puzzled look on my face. I said I was tall but when I shook hands with the bloke I was on, I was looking up and I thought I felt his hand wrap twice around mine.

 

As expected the ball came straight down, I was tussling with my man for the punch and did it! Much to the delight of the crowd, I heard Wendy, one of our more vocal supporters shout out, “you’re a machine Glenn you’re a machine!” This might be OK after all.

 

The rain had increased significantly and unfortunately the ball came straight back again, and again and again, I didn’t feel like a machine anymore – actually I was rooted.

We couldn’t get the ball past the centre before it came back. I was battling to run, I was getting pummeled, a cross wind was picking up and the ball kept on coming back.

Every time I looked down towards Nev he was standing there with the other guys doing nothing.

 

You know the quarters always seem twice as long when you’re being beaten; the siren finally went and we ran in 7 goals down, 7 goals to nothing – Zippo.

 

As we did all the usual back slapping and said the “well dones”, we gathered around the coach: “you’re doing great out there boys”, he said. “This is a seven goal breeze and I’m sure we’ll get it back.” I couldn’t believe it. “Are you watching the same game that I’m playing?” Were getting flogged out there, and a breeze? It’s a bloody 100mph cross wind.” I made a deal with Nev at quarter time that we would stay at the same ends of the oval, that way we would only be in the backline every second quarter.

 

Well into the second quarter I didn’t know what was worse, being in the backline getting battered, bruised and exhausted or standing in the forward line doing absolutely nothing all quarter with the rain going sideways and it felt like minus 5 degrees.

 

I didn’t know what the score was when the siren went for half time – I didn’t care; I was freezing. A couple of the crowd were in their cars (the loyal ones). Most of them were in the club house watching the Eagles game (and I’m sure that’s were I saw our coach come from).

 

Only the A grade went into the change rooms for half time so we had to stand out ther the rain and chilling wind. I found out we were down 15 goals to nothing, the backline were stuffed and getting torn to pieces.

 

I think the coach was pretty keen to get us back into the game. My turn in the backline, at least I wouldn’t freeze. There was nothing to suggest this quarter would be any different and it wasn’t. They hammered us and we took it. I kept on looking over to our bench, I knew we had one reserve because I had seen him before, but stuffed if I could see anyone now.

 

The momentum didn’t change all game; we went down 25 goals and umpteen points to nothing.

 

We struggled off the ground, all eager to hit the showers. Anyone would tell you how good a hot shower is after a cold, muddy, bruising game. On our way off the ground we heard that the A grade umpires hadn’t arrived and probably went to the Kukerin oval (Dumbleyung / Kukerin being a merged team). On entering the change rooms I heard the shout “ressies out!” we were told to get out and wait until the A grade had left. I stood there for a while in the cold rain and thought “stuff this, what could they do to me to make me feel any worse? I’m going in” and the rest of the team followed me.

 

So that was it, I played my last game of footy a few months before my 43rd birthday at Dumbleyung, we were soundly beaten, bruised and the captains words sang true:

 

“Boys we’ve come a long way, we’ll probably get flogged but there’ll be plenty of beers after the game”

As we drove down the long straights towards Boddington, I kept on staring straight ahead in some kind of trance, just thinking over and over “there’ll be plenty of beers after the game”, “there’ll be plenty of beers after the game”, “and there’ll be plenty of beers after the game”.

 

I asked Nev if he wanted another, and reached into the esky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Glenn, the real question is; was it worth it?

  2. Ha! sure was, many a time over a few beers that one has come out – still gets a laugh

  3. Bloody good story ..theres always one constant in life
    “there’ll be plenty of beers after the game”

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