Almanac Books: Champions All extract – Mick Martyn on what happened in Bali

Excerpts from Champions All.

Mick Martyn, NM
2002, Carey left at the start of the year. Pagan at the end of it. After the main footy trip, me and Jason McCartney went on to Bali to spend some time figuring out what to do. Dean Laidley, new administration, North’s agenda didn’t look good for us.


We hit Bali, went to the nightclub, and half an hour later, bang, that’s when it (the Bali bombing) happened. It was one of those surreal things. I didn’t know so much about it; burns. They cook you on the inside. That the first 48 hours are vital.


When the blast goes you get thrown back, you get knocked out, which is what happened to me. When you come to you lose track of time, you look up and there’s smoke everywhere, spot-fires, you feel bodies, see them, legs and arms everywhere. You make sure all your limbs are there, check your face. You can’t hear, you’ve gone deaf, you see an opening to get out of there, some light, and that’s when I ran into Jase.


He’s just standing there, ready to keel over. I was lucky, I had choice clothes on, sneakers not thongs. Everybody else is wearing this $2 stuff that goes up in flames, and cutting their feet on the broken glass and debris. I managed to get Jase and put him on back of one of those bikes. The guys didn’t want a bar of us, I mean, it looks like a war zone, some big bloke is screaming at him. I gave him everything I had, told him to take Jase to a hospital. Then I grabbed a bike down the track.


I knew where the hospital was because I’d been there on other trips to get my eye stitched up. You’re in a corridor with mates running hard at each other to see who’ll back out. Neither of you do, whack! (laughs)


The hospital was totally unprepared for such a catastrophic event. You lie on a bed, go on a drip while they try and figure out what to do. Then the others start coming in and you get pushed aside. People missing limbs and body parts. They were overwhelmed. I wouldn’t lie down, I knew if I did I’d pass out or go to sleep. Jase had over 50 per cent burns, he was worse.


Jason was taken back on a Hercules flight to the Alfred intensive care, I went on a commercial flight they’d set up for victims that weren’t critical.


The thing about when something like that happens, 60 Minutes, news shows, they’re, ‘Tell us this . . . tell us that . . .’ I shut my door on it. Those events weren’t a circus. As significant as it was, I didn’t want to go out there and say, ‘Yeah, a head went that way, I saved him, they were dying …’


Doctors put the bandages on you and start the care and mending.


Coming off Bali, following Pagan to Carlton was the best thing I ever did. A lot of people that returned from that went into depression. They had nothing to do other than the media circus, then be left unable to work, high and dry.


North did the best thing possible for Jason McCartney. They kept him on. That kept him getting up every day, wanting to get better and better, until, eventually, he played one game, then retired. Just fantastic!



Champions All – A History of AFL/VFL Football in the Players’ Own Words by Matt Zurbo

Published by Echo Publishing


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