Off Season Odyssey – Part 24: Addictions

    Jesse’s Aboriginal. Light, like his Mum, who he grew up with down south, in the bush where I’m from. He’s gone to work with his Dad, who is full-blood, on the Central NSW Coast. It’s been ages and is great to see him. He’s nineteen now, but, due to his height, still looks [Read more]

AFL Preliminary Finals – Sydney v Collingwood: Revenge, Redemption and Jetta

    It’s been a huge fortnight. September, surely, is Christmas for footyheads. A whole month of it, longer than we get for holidays. I’ve been to the mainland, watched the game’s oldest, greatest rivals, Port Melbourne and Williamstown slog it out in a VFL Semi, at a ground where you could sit or stand [Read more]

Off Season Odyssey – Part 23: Spent… Cooked…Content

Off-season Odyssey Pt. 23 Leo Barry was a good player, no doubt. 200-odd games for the Swans. A struggling forward, and honest backman. A ripper full-back! With nothing more than the build of a flanker. He’s smaller than me, for Christ’s sake! Had it over Gehrig. Knew Fev was a confidence player, so whacked into [Read more]

The Brownlow Medal: Brownlow Thoughts?

Brownlow Thoughts?   Well done Jobe! You are a jet! A superstar! All those other fancy words. A Brownlow winner! A Brownlow! Hell, yeah. And, I thought, a damn worthy one! I loved watching you play this year, your hardness. Your want! Geez, you have want! And you seem like a top bloke! Anyone else [Read more]

Off Season Odyssey – Part 22: Unnoticed Echoes

    The day’s been perfect. Lost and perfect. I have money in pocket, hard work behind me. There’s only five clouds in the sky. Each one worn by a mountain range, making their own weather. The town is perfect, to look at, anyway. To drive through. To drink at. Walking into the pub, surrounded [Read more]

Off Season Odyssey – Part 20: Empty Bars and Back Pocket Legends

  Empty Bars and Back Pocket Legends.       The hotel hangs over a winding road that cuts down into town. Above its door is a sign that says Top Pub, simple and honest. I’ve been on the road for ten hours and slouch over my beer as if it’s a lead-lined magnet.    [Read more]

Off Season Odyssey – Part 19: Blood

    Uncle Les is dying. It’s not right. I have such vivid memories of him being so damn imposing. So solid. All Hungarian, with that slicked back hair, the angular face, barrel chest. That way. Straight down the line. Now he’s skin and bone, there nothing there. He sits opposite me in his house [Read more]

Off Season Odyssey – Part 18: Running In Cathy Freeman’s Steps

    It’s grey when I get to Canberra. I’ve been to dot-towns all over the country, found teammates and ex-teammates underground and in cities, yet not one of them lives here. Not that I know of. I wonder what that says about us – me and the Grey City? I have a kick with [Read more]

Off Season Odyssey – Part 17: Nowhere Rugby

  I’m driving through some town in NSW. I’ve well lost count of names and details. It looks like a beaut. Rural. No coast for miles. Nothing but giant waves of mountains. They’re everywhere, weaving into and out of horizons. The people in this place are different to those on the coast. They live here, [Read more]

Off Season Odyssey – Part 16: Not Every Club Is Roses

Off Season Odyssey Pt.16.   Not every Club is Roses.   The plan is simple. Vaguely bounce through Kingston, S.A., then wobble towards Gypsy Point, somewhere on the other side of the ranges, where there’s work on the coast. About two days away, give or take. But there’s a beaut pub just off the highway, [Read more]

Off Season Odyssey – Part 15: The World is Round

  The World Is Round.   The world is round. Drive far enough through any desert and you’ll find a river, or the ocean. I wake up beside what I later figure is the Wimmera River. A superb, muddy thing with no rush to it. The trout let me know they’re there, and I swim [Read more]

Off Season Odyssey – Part14: Kicking Over Wheat Silos

  Kicking Over Wheat Silos   I wake up with four kids staring at me. Blink. Blink, blink. The farm is half way between Bordertown and nowhere. Pete gets off the phone. “There’s no work for you today,” he tells me. I get the impression the boss is the sort of bloke who says “There’s [Read more]

Off Season Odyssey – Part 12: Aussie Humour

AUSSIE HUMOUR.   “No tribal colours,” the bouncer tells me, holding his hand out. We both look at the North jumper I’m wearing. “It’s okay, he’s with the band,” Gav says. “I know the band,” the bouncer says. He’s from Warrnambool. So are the Monaros. Like the King and Queen are from England, and David Boon [Read more]

Off Season Odyssey – Part 11: New Year’s Without Resolutions

Off Season Odyssey Pt11.   New Year’s Without Resolutions.   Princetown has a beaut oval. Round. Hard. There’s no team any more, no town. Just the reedy wetlands that is the last gasp of the Gellibrand River, where farmers, back in the day, paddled their milk downstream, on longboats, to the Saturday market. Just coastal [Read more]

Off Season Odyssey – Part 10: Pre-season is Serious Business

  “Come have a kick!” I say to Louie. We were teammates at Otway for three years. I have no idea how, yet here he is, on the coast, working in Kenty’s Surf Shop. “Up yours, Zurbo! It’s summer. You haven’t changed.”

Off Season Odyssey – Part 9: The Bandidos

  After a few big days in the bush, spraying in the gullies, and clearing fireweed, I come down from the hills to have a surf not far off sunset – the good, stupid, lazy kind that hurts no-one. Not the kids on boogie boards I can’t dodge, not me or the water. Jumping in [Read more]

Off-Season Odyssey Part 7: Alcohol und Footyball

  This Odyssey is turning me into an alcoholic. Each stop, old teammates badger me: “We haven’t seen you in years! And you don’t want to have a drink with us?!” So we kick, then drink, as if a little run around has earned it. Each stop I pick up a few more good memories [Read more]

Off Season Odyssey Part 6: Excaliball

Footyhead of the Cove… Devil’s Kitchen, Moonlight Head, Victoria. I hope all the Knackers have a corker of a season on and off the oval next year. Matt Zurbo.

Brett’s Last Hurrah

  Hello? Yes, Brett. What? You don’t want me to call you Brett today? Oh. Mr. Ratten? No? Um… Rats? Yes, yes, I can hear you… Oh, I thought you were cursing. Serious? Jesus on a cross? What, as if it’s a name? I know, yes I know you still have three hours to go [Read more]

Discussion: Today’s Champions

    Right now I’m wondering if Martin Pike was a Champion. Four Premierships, All-Australians. A B&F. He did it in winning sides, he did it with no support at Fitzroy. What about John Blakey? Rohan Smith? Both played over 300 games of elite level football. Many say you can’t reach that number without being [Read more]