A beautiful man, a curious crossroad.

There aren’t many footballers like Cam Mooney. Not afraid to hug and kiss his teammates, and sometimes even his opponents, his tender acceptance of his 2007 Premiership medallion still chokes me up. He is the image of Hamish, the fierce, but loveable rock-tossing friend of William Wallace in the movie Braveheart. In the age of blanket tattoos, his Celtic Cross and “XXI” beckon everytime he recklessly round-arms the air after he kicks a goal.

His injury struggles of late have been made very public. Both Cam and his coach could be accused of showing vulnerability by openly discussing the Geelong forward’s mental and physical fragility. To me, it’s so enchantingly human.

I’ve felt a deep and genuine respect for Cam since 2004 when, playing as a ruckman, he carried the side for much of the season where they finished fourth and almost played in the decider. Until that point in his career, he was seen as rash and undisciplined. Through circumstance the responsibility fell to him, and it’s my belief that Geelong’s later success was a direct result of his contributions that year. It was not just his manful, brave ruckwork, he almost embodied some sort of ephemeral spirituality which will be forever beheld in the narrative of the great club. My heart sank when, right in front of my eyes, Jarryd Roughead was bowed by an unwilling Achilles earlier this year. His journey in 2011 was not too dissimilar to Cameron’s in ’04. Perhaps I am not the only that thinks the two men may be kindred spirits?

I digress.

The decision to see him spend some time at VFL level was dispassionate and clinical, and for some reason it did not seem to degrade the aged warrior. I’m sure the careers of many great men would be lengthened were their coaches as patient as Cameron’s.

Well, that is if Cameron’s career is truly lengthened.

Today, as Geelong crushed the Gold Coast, the elephant in the room was Cameron, and namely his career. Breath was bated each time he chased the ball, and even when he goaled, the reception was decidedly muted. We know that Cam is being tested, like a loyal, weary sheepdog, to see if he can withstand the rigors of finals footy.

In this day of “The Game Plan,” we have been told plainly that no one, not Cam, not Scott, no one knows whether Cam can handle it. It’s enthralling, and the lack of false bravado only draws me in further. Whatever happens I feel totally invested in the narrative and in the Human.

I hope, naturally, that the fairytale end awaits him, even though my gut says it is unlikely. Each step is a bone on a bone for him. It must be excruciating. But I remember 2004, and if he can shake off the scaly burden of age for just a moment and reclaim that inextinguishable rage, well, who knows?

Although no one knows what his final moments as a footballer will entail, I foresee Cameron’s tears, and his great and mighty roar.

“They fought like warrior poets”
-Braveheart.

About Edward Harcourt

I'm 31 and I love the Cats!

Comments

  1. Ed – I love Mooney. He’s a great warrior and a real team man, though he did exasperate me in the earlier years.

    They say the Pies/Cats clash in the last round is a dead rubber, but it won’t be for Mooney who will still (hopefully) be fighting for his place in the team. I’m not sure he can make it.

  2. Moons was so critical to our structure as we developed – the Scarlett of our forward line.

    Luckily, the team has changed a lot in the past two years and he does not need to be the man anymore, but I still think he can add significant value to that team. Fingers crossed we get to see those surging leads, strong marks and the wheeling left or right to lay off by foot with precision.

  3. Hope he plays in round 24.

  4. Richard Naco says:

    I was standing by the players’ car park when Moonz arrived for the game on Saturday. As he got out of the car, he literally looked up to see the phalanx of fans awaiting him, and an almost child like smile lit up his face. I’ve never seen a CGI effect in the flesh before. All of the Geelong players take their time (to varying degrees) working their way through the admiring pack, uncomplainingly signing anything thrust in their direction and posing for photos & the odd joke or chat, but the Not That Big Not So Hairy Cat seems to relish it the most od them all.

    He is the one that seems to remember everybody’s name, that has a private word, an in joke perhaps, for each and every individual there. Moonz clearly loves the community that is the Geelong Football Club, and that love is returned a thousand fold. That all of us want him so much to succeed this year is an utter no-brainer.

    There was a time when I wasn’t all that impressed by what I perceived as his selfish recklessness. But the more I’ve learnt about the man – that intelligent, passionate, incredibly selfless individual – the more I am appalled by my own previous superficiality. I have heard so many stories of his incredible generosity, inevitably undertaking far from the pale self seeking lights of publicists’ agendas & media cameras. That gung-ho courage and berserker mentality is balanced by a truly illuminated soul.

    This season is Mooney’s tour-de-force. Any lesser man would not have allowed any conceits of potential staus as a legend be tarnished by a long stint in the reserves and endless public debate of his declining worth. Far from diminishing his place in the history of the club, Moonz’ courage, clubcentricity and genuine humility has rightly raised him as a Corio Bay Immortal of the stratopheric & cherished status of Max Rooke. Lesser men have quit when facing similar critical crossroads in their career (a certain Bomber springs immediately to mind), but Moonz is cut from a far finer, more resilient & more glorious fibre.

    I now have one regret from seeing him as I did that gloriously sunny Kardinia Park afternoon. I now really wish that I’d abandoned my self annointed role as an outsider quietly observing everything, and just stepped forward to shake his hand as he passed by me.

    “Moonz”, I have since wanted to have said, “I enjoy you as a footballer, but you have my undying respect as a man”.

  5. Pamela Sherpa says:

    I liked watching Money as a backman. Always felt he was a bit frustrated and bored on the forward line – I wrote a song about it once- to the tune of ‘Something Stupid” when he got reported.
    it went something like –
    “I wait down on the forward line until they think of kicking the ball down to me
    And then I clip my opponent round the ears so playfully ‘ ,,,,,
    …… .And then the ump just spoils it all by saying Cameron Mooney I’m reporting you “

  6. Clearsighted says:

    Great piece, Edward.
    Moons acceptance of his time in the twos, reflects his courage and his respect for the club he loves.
    I agree, Richard Naco, that “…lesser men have quit when facing similar critical crossroads…” and we all know the certain Bomber who comes to mind.
    As well as a long stint in the ruck during the 2004 season,Moons also played there for a large part of 2009, when Geelong rode out some tough times mid way through the year.
    There is something of the poet about Moons; about his passion; his connection to the world around him; and his seeming recognition that he is, as John Donne wrote, a “part of the main”.
    And the bravest hearts are often the most tender.

  7. Good story mate. Amazing to think it’s nearly over for the big man!!

    Great comments too guys.

  8. I didn’t realise that Cam hadn’t actually announced his retirement until yesterday. I’m not really surprised that the week after I penned this piece, TBHC got himself rubbed out for a lazy week. It’s the farewell tour – you’ve gotta play all the old favorites.

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