A Footy Season Greeting from The Old Dog

Season 34: Footy Season’s Greetings.



I mean, how lucky are we? There are so many reason to be.

Over summer I watched the ’74 Grand Final. Bought a copy. There was a moment in it, Dick Clay. I’ve watched that three second bit of play 50 times or more. 100. Just rewind, watch, rewind. A force-of-will moment, an act of courage. I interviewed him a year before for the book I am writing – interviews with old players. Like him a lot. Straight up, honest. No tags on himself. Haven’t told him about the DVD yet. Don’t know why.

But I’m taking thoughts of that moment into my 34th season of senior footy.


Watching that Grand Final, all those torps and drop kicks got me thinking. Because my work hours are all over the shop, I’ve been training a lot on my own. Never could do a torp. I played my first senior game in ’83. That was just when, unless you were Jimmy Jess, they were on the way out. You had to keep up with the times.

To this day I still try to do that; embrace new drills, new game-plans, terminologies. The latest buzz words – ‘fanning’. But training on my own, up and down the ground, torps. I’m finally getting the hang of them. A good one feels beautiful.

With drop-punts, somehow I’ve learnt, over summer, to watch the seam of the ball as I’m dropping it. Helps keep things straight. I used to obsess over technique in general. Again, this simplifies it. My distance is gone, but the kicks are straighter than ever.

Simon Madden and Ben Hudson told me things from the book I’m using in the ruck this year. Who cares if I’m in my late 40s. Old Dogs can learn new tricks, of course we can. Why wouldn’t you try what someone like them told you? Better late than never. God, I wish I’d done this book in my 20s!

Each transcript that I break down into chapters I want to ring the player and thank him again and tell him what a corker bloke he obviously is. Bones McGhie, Gavin Brown, Brad Wira, Dougie, Ken Fraser, such a ripper person. A gentleman. Always, Yeater and Goodwin and Capuano.

But life is short, they have theirs, and I am in a place as good as or better than any of them ever were. Under a mountain in Tassie about to play footy once more with the best bunch of blokes ever. Names just as important. To us. That I knock into and give the shitstir, from 17 to in their late 30s, because if feels like such a privilege to be playing alongside them. To be training alongside them.

Time and again blokes who have played at a handful of clubs say they’re all pretty much the same. I believe they are and they aren’t. Equally in ways that matter. Whatever, I reckon I’ve struck gold with this club. Seven years of it. As, probably, does most everybody who plays most anywhere.

How lucky are we.

To play, support, interact. To win or lose and stir the stove. I’m looking forward to, in a game we’re way up, or way down, letting loose a Jimmy Jess torpedo – so what if I fluff it? To try and stay young by trying something new, even if it’s old. To having fun. And competing. Each season, for each of us, is the start of a new story.

   How lucky are we!


Good luck to us all this season.


  1. Dave Brown says

    Bloody lucky, Matt. Have a good one.

  2. Matt Zurbo says

    On ya, Brownie!!

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Old Dog we are never to old to listen and learn have fun !

  4. Malby Dangles says

    The Old Dog can teach himself new tricks! I’m looking forward to hear about the torp you make in a match that makes Ben Graham weep.
    I’m sure there will be a second book from your endeavours. It’ll be the best ‘how to play footy’ book ever written.

Leave a Comment