Clean Hands

By Phil Dimitriadis

Thirty-five touches. The cleanest hands at the club. Flawless disposal and three goals capped off a great afternoon. Hubris has been sitting on the bench all day, invisible, but determined to get a run when it counts…after the game.

Backslappers are aplenty. Pre-pubescent girls hang on his every expression. Desperate housewives hope for a glance, a smile, a slim possibility that their fantasies may come true.

The media sticks their microphones into his face waiting for their instruments to be pleasured by the mouth of a demi-god. He praises the coach, his teammates and the club culture. Three more votes, another new plasma and the party has only just begun.

After showering and dressing, a mate slips him a pill to celebrate. He pops it like an M&M and smiles impishly. He is in for a big night.

First he goes home for tea with mum, dad and his kid sister. He is a different lad at home. He can be himself for a couple of hours. Sis hugs him proudly, dad warns him about the hype, while mum tells him that it is his turn to do the dishes and clean up the dog poo. He smiles at sis, nods to dad and does the chores for mum.

Now he is ready, the amphetamine is about to peak and the nightclub waits. He meets three teammates and they brush past the fifty or so people in the queue, most of whom are taking photos of the four famous footy stars. No one protests at the favourable treatment, for they are gods in this town.

While Kanye West, Ludacris and Lady Ga Ga pulsate through patrons ears, he is on his fifth free Crownie. Obligatory photo poses, autographs and idle chit chat with brown-nosing management is done. It is time to get his hands dirty.

A girl approaches and gives him a smile and her phone number. He looks and hesitates. She has a pretty face but is a little too plump for this Adonis. “Not really Brownlow red carpet material,” he thinks to himself. He thanks her and then lies, telling her that he already has a girlfriend. She reluctantly disappears into the crowd.

A bouncer buddy gives him an E to wash down with the Crownie’s…on the house. Life is beautiful.

Another girl captures his attention. She is stunning. A face like Delta and a body like Beyonce. Our hero can’t resist. He introduces himself with confidence. “I know who you are,” she replies with a giggle. He has visions of her on his arm at the Brownlow. The E is kicking in and the 35 touches rapidly stimulate his manhood. He wants her; he must have her, for he is a god in this town.

They adjourn to a penthouse at the neighbouring casino. The drugs and sex provide hours of multi-sensory pleasure .

They rest, cuddle, kiss and share a joint, but the star is insatiable.

It is three o’clock and she wants to go home. Her parents have left numerous messages on her mobile phone. They tend to wait up for her. She looks twenty-one, but is only seventeen. He didn’t think about asking her for ID. He begins to fume. The drugs and the grog have sent his brain into a tailspin, like a plane in unforeseen turbulence. “Do you know who the fuck I am?” he screams, his nose an inch from hers. Damn that demon Hubris.

She screams and he slaps her twice, backhand and forehand. She calls him a “fucken fraud” and he punches her in the face like he punches the ball from an opponent…with aggression and intent. She sprays him in the eyes with her perfume and somehow escapes to call the police.

The star is apprehended at four back at the nightclub. He proclaims his innocence, but the cops are about to charge him with assault and rape of a minor. His mind begins to clear, not so his hands.

At ten the next morning club officials bail him out and assure him that they have found the girl. She has decided not to press charges for an undisclosed fee. Her parents are furious, but the cash is handy. They relent and the surly star agrees to honour the terms and conditions.

At a club function later that afternoon he is king of the kids and darling of the parents. The adult males marvel at his skills. Mums can’t believe how nice and down to earth he is and dozens of kids are kicking the footy wearing his number on their backs.

Our hero looks as if he has just come out of church. On the other side of town a 17 year old girl is on the phone to Lifeline. Her new found riches will at least pay for some of the therapy she has to endure for the rest of her life.

She will have nightmares and relive the trauma of a night with this man. Yet, as long as nobody else knows, no one will care. The Monday papers will praise him for his skills, his grace and his clean hands.

For he is a god in this town.

About Phillip Dimitriadis

Carer/Teacher/Writer. Author of Fandemic: Travels in Footy Mythology. World view influenced by Johnny Cash, Krishnamurti, Larry David, Toni Morrison and Billy Picken.


  1. Damian O'Donnell says

    Phil – a depressing scenario you paint. You must be a “glass half empty” kind of bloke. I’m not really sure who you are blaming here. The town (Melbourne)?, The player? The girl? The adoring supporters? The drug culture? The night clubs?, All of the above?

    Can we blame stupid, immature behaviour on the game and culture of football? Similarly, can we blame the senseless stabbing on the streets by a couple of Melbourne Victory supporters on soccer?

    We idolise footballers and not scientists or artists, we spend government money on sport but not theatre companies,we measure our greatness in gold medals and not Rhodes Scholars. So what is your solution? Perhaps we should all lie down and stop enjoying the football so much. Yeah, that would teach them.

  2. I think this is a great story. Depressing yes, but an observational piece that makes us think about what might lie not too far below the surface of the world around us. We might not have the solutions to problems but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t discuss them.

    My kids are at an age when they sometimes display contrition simply because they were caught doing the wrong thing. I hope they learn as they get older that they must take responsibility for all their errors, not just those that someone has exposed.

    This piece is a reminder that there are those who pay the penalty only when they are caught doing the wrong thing, but hidden others who bear the cost when the transgressor is not exposed.

  3. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Hey Dips,

    my take here is that we are all are responsible for our behaviour. The girl and her parents aren’t exactly moral crusaders. My point is that we shouldn’t assume anything about footballers or people in general. Different circumstances create various choices.

    My point is that the culture, under most circumstances, will protect the footballer first and his victims second. This town becomes skewed during footy season. Logic goes out the window and we see the world through our team colours.

    In reality we are barracking for the colours, not the footballers. They can change teams, we don’t.

    Perhaps it is the players who should ‘enjoy’ the footy rather than the extra-curricular activities that follow. Perhaps we don’t allow them to because we expect them to perform at their best consistently.

    We treat them like God’s and they repress their shadowy side to give us false perceptions of goodness. They are human,flawed and we should celebrate this, not treat them like they are afraid to shit on the carpet because they end up shitting on someone else.

    The extreme behaviour comes from extreme expectations. We are all responsible.

  4. Damian O'Donnell says

    Phil – I agree when things go wrong the footy “community” tends to look after its own at others’ expense. But I take issue with your assumption that the story as you write it is THE culture of footy. It’s one side of footy, but not the only one.

    Why not write a story of the footballer who, in his own time and without remuneration, goes to visit a sick kid in hospital. Why not show what a positive affect this has, how glad the kid’s parents are, how much good a simle visit can do. Couldn’t we then argue that this is the culture of footy?

  5. Dips, I’m sure Phil will have his own response but I take his reference to “the culture” as being the culture around how such incidents are handled rather than the culture of footy in general. We need positive footy stories and the Footy Almanac provides many. We also need to remember the old adage “those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.” That’s why Phil’s piece is so important, in my view.

  6. Phil Dimitriadis says


    you are correct when you say it is not the only culture. My narrative purposefully chose to explore the seedier side. Gigs is also spot on about forgetting history. The guys entering this world should have compulsory social education, preferably delivered by women to enhance their understanding of their responsibilities.I don’t want them to be role models, but the culture forces them to be these days. Some handle it better than others.

    As for the ‘glass half empty’ philosophy, that is the price I pay for following Collingwood in the last 35 years.

  7. Damian O'Donnell says

    Phil – Supported Collingwqood for 35 years hey. You’ve done well to have any water in the glass at all!! Well done!

  8. This fictional piece takes on a greater poignancy after the airing of the “Code of Silence” episode of Four Corners this week. If you haven’t read it, do so. If you have, it’s worth reading again.

  9. Eleni Donnelly says

    Wow Phlip you’ve done it again. Thought provoking, powerful and obviously controversial. Perhaps if Wayne Carey (was he the first? I don’t know) had some real consequence to his behaviour (as perhaps rapists to theirs) we as a society would clearly be saying and showing that this behaviour is NOT acceptable. Instead the footy culture allows it to be acceptable and it continues with no end in sight. It’s tragic mate, especially when I read your point on ‘the footballer CANT control’. Yes he can, he just won’t. He doesn’t have to. The consequences these boys (and they are just boys) face are zero compared to their crimes (I repeat like rapists, domestic violence perpetrators). Keep writing, keep exposing. I love you. E

  10. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Thanks for your thoughts Eleni.

    This problem seems to be getting worse rather than better because it is being exposed more these days. In the pre-information age many of these ‘incidents’ were hushed up. Still, there is a long way to go and the thoughts and ideas of female fans in footy are more important than ever.

  11. John Butler says

    Interesting debate folks.

    Phil, I was out of town when this was posted, so have only just come across it.

    This is a side of the football industry which needs to be recognised. It’s not the main aspect of footy, but it exists.

    Given how subsequent events- Jack Elliot’s hush-up comments and Fev’s Brownlow transgressions- have been handled, it seems the urge to look away still remains.

  12. John Butler says

    As a side comment, and given my perspective as a Carlton die-hard, this site continues to be a revelation.

    With Phil and Haiku Bob’s contributions, a rare sub-species of intelligent, thoughtful Collingwood supporters has emerged.

    Whatever is the world coming to?

  13. Graeme Sparkes says

    Good thought provoking stuff Phil. The issues seems to me to be how kids with great athletic talent get dragged into a world of glamour that they really have no idea how to handle. All the media hype about fame that our society is saturated in wouldn’t help them. Your point about education is an important one. And some of the blame needs to go to societies that foster the ‘fame’ culture. But I agree with other comments here about how ultimately you’ve got to take responsibility for your own actions.
    Keep writing. Keep discussing.

  14. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Thanks Graeme,

    what intrigues me is the contradictions. You can be a total prick, yet still a hero if enough people don’t find out. In footy terms, we are responsible for creating those that purport to represent us, whether we like it or not. The fans feed the monster at some level.

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