16 Makes Bad Maths



Last week I ran out for my 500th, under the mountains, which felt right. They wore the rain like a goddamn hat. My home was buried in black clouds, as if there was a ceiling above our match. But, down in the valley, from the east, the weather wasn’t that bad. It’s great when the world’s shifting like that. They sky was on the move, as if we were a part of it, catching on the peaks, but there were still marks to be had. I tried my guts out. Did my bit.

Three of our blokes hadn’t showed. Two more were called up to the Ones. The flu, hangovers, who knows? There were reasons, and half-reasons and bullshit. We played the top team with only 16 men. They won by about eleven, but should have won by 20. We did good with what we had.

The coach was happy, but we don’t look like finals. Not a bit.

I’ve started doing my extra run a week, anyway. My fitness will peak by the last home-and-away, even if it’s for nothing. Bottom or top five, Div Two Reserves, it’s habit.


After the game, five or six of the older players sat in a circle of sorts on the hall floor, around where the slab had been dumped, as if there was no reason to move another inch. The younger players drooled a little, but left the extra beers to us, while we talked football and random shit as if we’d just used up all our pace, and time didn’t mean a damn bloody thing.

It felt great, like that’s the sort of stuff football’s about.


Later, we did what we do. I drank a bit with my great mate and teammate, Nutsy, and a bit on my own, and watched the Seniors lose a close one like bad teevee.


I ran out for my first Senior game in 1982. It was drizzling, the ground was a mess. Truth to tell, a few clubs I’ve played for, and their records, no-longer exist. Then there are the games I played under fake names in the city, every time we had a bye. And do I include the handful of matches I played for the big hotel I worked for, when I was younger, another man, between factory jobs? We lined up against other big hotels on Sundays, we trained, there was a final? I dunno. Probably not.

Anyways, it might be my 518th. Who knows? These little things add up.

When I called it, a few blokes took the piss, Parks shook my hand, Ken said I was a liar, just to prove he’s Ken, and we got on with more important stuff.



It was mentioned, then forgotten. Spot on. The Seniors and McGoos lost in brilliant weather, damn it.

Playing’s the thing.




  1. Pamela Sherpa says

    There once was a fellow named Matt
    After 500 games he said “That-
    there’s one thing for sure
    I’ll play plenty more
    Cos my jumper is sewn to my back”

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Matt , 500 + , Games is a sensational brilliant commitment to the game you love
    funny isn’t it that people who aren’t in too sport will never understand the change room bullshit we all speak and the whole after game experience . Like you I don’t no what I would have done with all my time and that at least , 90 per cent of the people I have met have been thru sport . The life lessons success failure are just so important
    Thanks Matt you are a star !

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