When I turned on the news in my Perth home on Friday night, WAFL footy led the sports news headlines. It was a phenomenon not seen in my three years in this city. There is renewed excitement surrounding the state competition. The Eagles and the Dockers are battling while the WAFL is producing nail-biters. Like men who’ve broken up with girlfriends and all of a sudden want to hang out with their mates again, many old WAFL supporters are leaving Perth’s downtrodden AFL stars to their business and coming back to our games.
Before last weekend’s match between Subiaco and Peel Thunder, I found myself in very unfamiliar territory. I’ve been playing for Subiaco since 2006 and this was the first time I was to play in a game in which we were fighting for a spot in the top four. We were 2-2 and fifth on the ladder. Subiaco have won four of the past five premierships. Fifth is an uncustomary position.
The game started at the unusual time of 3.15pm, possibly in an attempt to avoid the sting of the April sun. If that was the intention, it failed. It was stinking hot in the middle, and the running style of WAFL footy was impossible to maintain without smart use of the interchange. I got my first call to the bench after a shocking banana effort had sailed out on the full. As I walked along the boundary, one supporter said, “What the f#@$ were you thinking?”
When I turned around, the irate supporter avoided eye contact. He was wearing a Subi shirt from about 1984 and I’m fairly sure that, when the shirt goes back on the hanger, it maintains the mould of his pot belly. I’ve seen him before and I know he’s a loyal Subi supporter. Now I also know he’s a supporter who demands more from his centre half-forward. I kept walking along the boundary.
Further into my recovery walk, Blake Broadhurst, our injured half-forward, gave me a bit of cheek about a competition I’ve entered. Last week I filmed a commercial for the Doritos “make your own ad” competition. Blake quoted a couple of lines from my entry. My concentration waned. The world tilted just a fraction. My earlier sprayed shot at goal had been a blip on my mind, but now I was all over the place. I went on to kick 1.4 and one out on the full. Not good enough.
I have put my lack of mental strength and consequent skill errors down to one factor: my iPod play list during the warm-up. I’ve been firing up with a bit of Sex on Fire by the Kings of Leon, A-punk by Vampire Weekend, Feist’s 1-2-3-4, Burn Bridges by The Grates and a few other indie-pop crackers. I like these tracks because I can sing along to them, but they’re essentially love songs. This can’t be good when the time comes to ignore sideline abuse and then bury opponents with sharpshooting at goal from all angles.
After thinking about it, the answer is clear. I need some musical advice. I need a “zone-moulding” play list. That is, songs that put me in an impenetrable bubble of football excellence. But there are stipulations. It can’t be Eye of the Tiger, Boys Light Up or The Boys Are Back in Town. I need new sounds for a new season. I need catchy tunes that veer away from the sappy stuff that’s fluffing up my footy brain.
Thankfully, Brad Smith, our full-forward, kicked straight and we won by eight points in a gutsy win away from home. I will be checking his play list, but we are different people and what works for him may not do the job for me.
Our next match is on Monday (it’s a long weekend) at home against East Perth. Locals will be aware that is a “grudgy” of epic proportions and a sub-par preparation will not suffice. If you know what I need for that elusive musical edge, please let me know.