Crio’s Q?: Kicking it old school on the training track

Have a good look at an AFL ground nowadays. Pristine. Carpet.
The posts at each end are the same, but that’s about the only resemblance to the ovals you’ll see in the bush mid-winter or recall from junior days way back…ploughed fields.
No wonder the game is so different.

Remember training on bog grounds in the wet?
Key drills:- picking up a muddy, stationary ball – both hands required!; marking the greasy pig(skin) – wrap arms around it and hug to the chest.

What other skills did we practice which, to the “modern” professional would be totally anachronistic?


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Hiding in a darkened pocket during circle work on a wet Tuesday night in July when your team is 2 and 12 and you are playing the top side (away) this week.

  2. From the looks of the modern-day structures, ‘front and square’ drills would be resigned to the rubbish bin.

    The 20-pushups penalty for executing a U-Turn at training or in the game is also gonski.

    Sydney, Geelong, Freo and Brisbane arguably treat goalkicking drills with the same kind of aversion as Superman does kryptonite

  3. I loved circle work Swish. One of the few joys of training nights.

    Indian file running? Ouch! my hamstring! I felt a twinge, better see the team physio!

  4. team physio!?

    kick-to-kick before and after training.
    match day durries at the breaks.
    dressing gown for reserves.

  5. Learning to kick with both feet. It was much harder to manoeuvre on the boggy ground so kicking on both sides was crucial. Nowadays the kick on the outside of the boot (rather then the wrong foot) is hailed as a great skill. I loath it.

  6. Rick Kane says

    Pack marking as warm up.

  7. Drinking beer and becoming very good at it.
    Perhaps also inventing the paleo diet…we drank carbs and ate meat.

  8. The boots…muddy, sharp studs, hard toed and ankle supporting

  9. The centre square was always fun when playing after a week of sunshine when the previous couple of weeks were quagmires. After receiving a fair bump the result was often diving face first into “spikes” of hardened “mud” which felt like falling into sharp rocks.
    It still hurts just to think about it.

  10. A typical Thursday night in the 90’s:
    # Pre-training: kick-to-kick
    # Run two laps
    # Circle work
    # Break into four lines with 4 leaders rolling the ball out for you to pick up and handball back to them
    # Criss-cross hand-ball
    # 2 laps of Indian file if the drills were shoddy…so, 2 laps of Indian file
    # 1’s and 2’s split into two separate groups, with the 1’s taking over the entire oval and the 2’s consigned to a forward pocket
    # End of training shots at goal
    # Post training: a pie and 20 beers in the club-rooms!

  11. no practising of dribble kicks from the boundary?…ball would’ve bogged in the square and teammates would have belted you.

  12. 6 quick pots at Charlie’s before the game

  13. “OK you blokes, I want you to all pair off into threes”

  14. Smokie,

    Have you been watching Melbourne Superrules training? That was our training schedule down to the minute – except for Indian File running, blokes would have told the coach exactly where to go.

  15. Crio: ‘Team Physio’ = 3rd year V.U.T Physio student desperately trying to clock up the required volunteer hours in order to graduate.

  16. Goal umpires resplendent in white coat and hat
    Garters on your socks
    Red behind posts (SA)
    Smelly cricket wicket bog
    Umpire inspection of nails and boots

  17. Smokie- Brilliant!

    I played senior footy at four different clubs, and your list is spot on.

    Once a coach tried a drill that involved about twenty witches’ hats, and players running in multiple zig-zagging directions. It was an ambitious, complex, unholy mess. He got grumpy, and made us run two laps.

    And then we did circle work. The drill never surfaced again.

    Great question Crio.

  18. Mickey, it is hardly an original thought, but I looked down at the MCG on Friday night and just was reminded of the pristine decks these blokes run/play on and thought – wow, how times have changed. Wetern Oval Sunday reinforced that, but weather conditions there remain unchanged!

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