Almanac Philosophy: The Muse is musing on joy




Jeez we are having a fair dinkum winter and as a consequence I’ve backed off on the Abbotts Lager and reverted to the Abbottsford Stout. Had a couple of longnecks, rolled a Capstan and found myself musing on the joy of playing football and how the professional system seems designed to eliminate that joy. Is there anything better than wandering into suburban football ground when an Under 8 or Under 10 game is in progress and watch 36 little ants following the ball around like bees to a honey pot and going at with an unbridled joy for the game. Of course some kids stand out, but noticeably these kids try to bring their lesser skilled mates into the game with a handpass destined for nowhere, especially if the mate is busily engaged in a conversation with his opponent about last week’s episode of Lego Masters.


I watch my neighbour James play a solo game in the front yard in his Essendon jumper. James may well have some Billy Picken in him as he calls the action which invariably results in an Essendon goal as ‘Draper hits it to Merritt who finds Stringer, this will be a goal.’ James also plays solo Test matches which Australia win on the back of Starc and Warner who like James just happen to be left handers. Good sportsman James, as exhibited by him kicking six goals in his third ‘real  game ‘ with the Keilor Under 8s this year.  He also enlightens me with facts I could never know and which he always prefaces with ‘did you know’ as he moves closer to tell you in the style of a tout with a tip at the track.


A couple of recent revelations from James:


‘Did you know the main coach at Keilor where I play came to our training to speak to us and he is a Collingwood premiership player, but I can’t remember his name [Mick McGaune ]. Dad told me he was a good player.’


‘Did you know Jan who lives in that house over there has a son who played for my team Essendon in three premierships. I can’t remember his name but Dad told me he was a good player [Mark Harvey].’


I digress but I’m just illustrating, irrefutably, that kids start out with an unbridled joy. They have no expectation as to where it will end they just love to play and, in victory or defeat, the attitude continues.


So what happens then? The talented kids are identified [James could be one them] and fed into a system which clearly is designed to enable them to maximise their potential but equally seems designed to turn them into robots somewhat devoid of observable personality and to seemingly rob them of the joy and the reason they love to play.


Occasionally a couple sneak through to the highest level still embracing the game and playing with an unbridled joy akin to when they started in the Under 8s. Right now we have two of that ilk and I suspect not coincidentally they are small forwards. I refer to Jack Ginnivan and Cody Weightman both of whom are cheeky, exude enthusiasm rarely seen on the big stage and celebrate a goal as if the end of World War II has been declared.


So what happens then? The 9729 accredited AFL journalists most of whom I suspect were accredited because they were able to nearly recite the alphabet [jeez I miss Tom Morris] are all clamouring for a story so it becomes Weightman and Ginnivan play for free kicks and need to blah blah blah to gain credibility. [Their credibility] It becomes a pile-on and as a non-Collingwood supporter I reckon the umpires joined in on the Ginnivan pile-on on the Queen’s birthday. The kid wasn’t given free kicks which may have been awarded with Military Medals in times gone by. Didn’t get angry, attacked every contest as if it were his last – and with a smile on his dial.

Weightman kicks five in the first half last week, dislocates his elbow [ouch] and, as it is being put back together, applauds every goal like an Under 10 kid watching his mates win a premiership. Comes back on and goes at every contest as if the elbow thing hadn’t happened.


My point: let these kids play their careers from start to end with the joy they exhibit and stop piling on about stuff Tom Hawkins and Joel Selwood have made an art form of. Don’t beat the joy out of them and don’t forget Eddie Betts did a bit of staging in his time but how we love Eddie a marvellous player who never allowed the joy to be beaten out of him.


The media pack tears them down and then follows up with stories lamenting the lack of unique personality among players. Please.


Young Jack, it would seem, needs to be enlightened as to the difference between Tic Toc and Tic Tacks given recent events by the way.


Finally I must muse on Jordan De Goofy.


Personally I couldn’t give a toss about what Jordy does in his personal life but I reckon Collingwood signing off on him going to Bali during the break was akin to dropping a pyromaniac off in the bush with a box of matches and a can of kerosene and politely requesting he behave himself. My point re Goofy: he was a number five draft pick and in eight years insofar as I am aware he  hasn’t finished in the top eight in the Copeland trophy. He has had a good year and probably will do better in the Copeland. His  on-field CV for a player of his talent is abysmal and yet the media pack referenced above continually rates him elite. If Goofy is elite, the best car ever produced in Australia is the Leyland P76. [Remember when we made cars.]


The pack compares him to Dustin Martin. Please. The only thing he has in common with Dusty is they go to the same tattooist and in my view De Goofy is over rated and not worth the hoo haa.


Time to throw a log on the fire.


Good night.





Hayden Kelly




Read more memoir from The Muse (Drizzle) HERE


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