Almanac Footy Writing: Carpe Diem Fages…A Teacher’s Teacher



Photo: wikicommons



Carpe Diem Fages… A teacher’s teacher


I’ve been a secondary school teacher for more than twenty years now. It sounds like a long time when you put it that way.


Let’s try this instead…


‘One score, and but a single year ago.

Professors a plenty bought forth onto this continent,

A plethora of educators, dedicated to the principle,

That ALL ‘Dip. Eds’ are created equal’


It is a job I love. One thing I have learned, is that when it comes to what I do, it is better to think of the word ‘teaching’ as a verb and not a noun. You succeed or fail in this gig based on the strength of the connection you are able to make with your students, their families and your colleagues.


I’ve got no designs on ever doing anything else with my life, but I like hearing about former teachers who have gone on to successfully plant a flag elsewhere. It brings a sense of validation and dignity to the talents teachers develop and probably take for granted in themselves. Sting used to be a teacher, Stephen Fry as well. John Doyle, ‘Rampaging Roy Slaven’ himself, also spent a fair bit of time with chalk in hand.


Chris Fagan, who coaches his one hundredth AFL game today, was once a teacher. It’s not a huge leap to suggest that his time in the classroom has influenced the renaissance of the Brisbane Lions. You can see, like all good teachers, that he gets it is all about relationship. That his joy comes from seeing his charges succeed. One day, I’d love to have even just one or two of my former students speak even half and glowingly about my impact on them as the Brisbane Lions do about Fages.


I’m much older now than I was just over ‘one score’ ago. You suddenly become one of the ‘grown ups’ when you are in your forties. It’s perception and optics mainly. Despite the veneer of adulthood, my generation are nothing more than balding adolescents who remember Kurt Cobain, River Phoenix and O.J. Simpson like it was yesterday. It’s reassuring for us to listen to Chris Fagan speak and know that there are proper adults out there with their hands still on the steering wheel of society.


At the last minute, fate has delivered the Brisbane versus North Melbourne game to Launceston this afternoon. You have to look for the silver lining of COVID lockdowns and the fact that Fages will be coaching for the one hundredth time in his home state is surely that. While I’m sure he is a competitive animal, I really appreciate the way he seems to see the game with a sense of broader perspective. His mantra ‘you either win or you learn’ is a pretty sound philosophy for anyone, not just footballers.


Two years ago, at Marvel Stadium I took my girls to see St. Kilda play Brisbane. It was my youngest daughter’s first ever game. Our seats were up on Level 3 but before the game we wandered down to the fence so that she could see that the ground was really there. To see just how big the players, who were warming up, are up close. Seeing them decked out in my old Fitzroy gear, completely unprompted, Fages came over to the fence and said a quick ‘hello’. He then coached us through the following photo.


‘Come on girls…

Keep smiling…

Let’s get our heads in close together…

Look over there at your dad, not at me…

On the count of three…







Read more from Shane Reid HERE.


The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in 2021. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order HERE



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About Shane Reid

Loving life as a husband, dad and teacher. I'm trying to develop enough skill as a writer so that one day Doc Wheildon's Newborough, Bernie Quinlan's Traralgon and Mick Conlon's 86 Eliminatiuon final goal will be considered contemporaneous with Twain's Mississippi, Hemingway's Cuba, Beethoven's 9th and Coltrane's Love Supreme.


  1. Jarrod_L says

    Fages is a ripper; incredibly glad we got him on board. Here’s to the next 100!

    Nice Lincoln reference there at the start too, SR.

  2. I have huge respect for Chris Fagan.

  3. DBalassone says

    Wonderul piece Shane. Hard not to love Fages. Would love to see the Lions go all the way this year. It would be a victory for the good guys. Btw, should there be a photo showing after the text here?

  4. Peter Fuller says

    A wonderfully insightful discussion of what teaching involves and I think you’ve identified the characteristics which make Fagan so good at what he does.
    Your writing suggests that you share my belief that teaching is a privileged occupation, and as you so correctly identify it’s the relationships which make it productive for both teacher and student.

  5. Thanks Shane. I really enjoyed your insights. The general trajectory of modern coaching seems to be moving towards a more enlightened, teacherly approach.

    I’m unsure of the truth in this but understand that Blighty (in some ways the most complex and unknowable of coaches) always carried on him a slip of paper with this note- Never forget how hard it is to play this game.

  6. Shane Reid says

    Thanks for reading everyone. I appreciate the feedback and I’m sorry for not responding until now.

    DB I think there were some copyright issues with the photo as it was taken inside Marvel Stadium.

    JL, it will be interesting to see how things unfold for Fages. The news at Hawthorn this week prove that nothing lasts forever. I hope Fages leaves as a premiership coach whenever his time comes.

    I appreciate that Peter, I am one of the lucky ones who loves what they do. Sounds like you do too.

    Nice anecdote about Blighty Mickey. Complex is a great word, sham e he is not really involved in the game as much now

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