Off Season Odyssey – Part 27: Gods, AFL Footballers and Human Beings



The Gold Coast is L.A. with cane toads. A paradise they’ve layered a blanket of bitumen over, then pinned down with big boats and shopping centres. It oozes money and ex-Victorians.

At its heart is Broadbeach. A wonderland of towering, round-edged, honeycomb apartments, swimming around a sea of top dollar restaurants. There are no Subways here, no McDonalds. The nightclubs have names like Love and Platinum. Their queues, full of skinny people in expensive clothes, go two blocks. The street lighting is never too harsh, hidden, filtered, behind palm trees and water fountains. It’s the Lord’s Playground, where the rich and their teenaged children go when they’ve won the war. Everything looks like the future, clean, as if it was built tomorrow, for the day after tomorrow.

All of it designed, spaced out, so you can see the sky.

I’m outside one of the clubs with my ex-Tassie teammate Con-Dog, who’s taken me here because rain’s washed out all three landscaping jobs on offer. I don’t know if I’m chasing disasters, or causing them.

We see the Suns player, Tommy Lynch, in the crowd. He’s massive compared to his friends. They look like school mates, the sort who hope they’ll be there always, as if he’s still too young to be consumed by football. We see two more Suns players, and a jet from the Lions. Bernard Tomic walks right in as if the massive line is just a backdrop to his fame.

My old teammate, Jonty, is in the queue, looking a million dollars, trying to get in before 10.30, when they throw on a cover-charge worth more than everything I’m wearing.

“Not many girls like this in Tassie,” he laughs.

“Yeah, there were, but they’re here now,” I tell him.

“You want some magic?” he says. “$25 dollars, two pills.”

They’re not my thing, but for some reason I feel should be walking though Caesars Palace in sandals.

“Wouldn’t mind, but have no money,” I tell him.

“Take ‘em, come in and drink water,” he says.

He doesn’t understand what no money means. I haven’t eaten since yesterday. I simply say nothing, then we’re inside.

The nightclub is huge. An indoor orgy of pick-up lines, stupid drinks, recreational drugs and fluoro. The Suns players seem to rule it, sliding into and out of its strobe lights, booths and levels, being the crowd. They’re the longest way from the small towns and rural cities most of them came from.

I wonder if they ever think about the life they left behind? Dot town smells, rural belt routines? Under-aged drinking in the park across from the pub, waiting for it to shut so they can tailgate the crowd to the after-party.

“Check-it-out,” Jonty says. I don’t know what the pills he took are. They seems to have done nothing other than quieten him.

“Oh, a fight,” Con-Dog smirks.

Somebody has a Sun’s player in a headlock, the crowd heaves and spreads and huddles all at once, like a living thing.

“Nice,” says Jonty.

Other Suns players appear out of the crowd, wrestling their teammate free from trouble. People I don’t know take a swing at each other.

‘Look…” says Con-Dog pointing to Tomic running from it all.

I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t blame any of them. One photo on facebook, one phone call, and the press would fall like ceilings on all of them. There’d be headlines. Punishments. Blood. Blame. Judgement from people who weren’t there, who only know, believe or care about what they read. Who love being bitter, damn the torpedos! Why, I don’t know? It’s not my business. So what if they’re AFL? They’re not role models in a nightclub full of pingers. They’re people. Just people, damn it!

The young need to live lives, to have lives. To be young. They’re human beings. Who are we to demand otherwise?

There was a scuffle in a Gold Coast nightclub, where gods and angels go to play. The crowd spread, then quickly resettled.

It felt good, being three Tasmanians, a front row spot, both above and beneath it all.


Con-Dog and I left for Surfers, where women with tramp-stamps oozing out of boob tubes fight and fall in love with their thick necked boyfriends at traffic lights, and young girls with no class walk awkwardly on heals a mile high. Where bouncers openly itch for a fight and dickheads abide, and strippers are a heaven-send, not something to be ashamed of.

I loved the place! It was Fitzroy Street. It was the Cross. It was The Mersh in Launceston. Its nightclubs had names like Red Hot and Go For It. Its stairwells all led down.

Everything about it was more honest, more raw. Its people were far less pretty, less fashionable, in way more shapes, colours, sizes. The working class on the tear. A place where Tomic wouldn’t go, and club officials ban Suns players and Lions from going. A frontier in the heart of one of the richest cities in the world.

The Surfers people are no less worthy that Broadbeach’s. Everybody needs a home. In the drunken seaweed sway, I wondered how many other lower level footballers we were knocking into?











  1. Malby Dangles says

    “It felt good, being three Tasmanians, a front row spot, both above and beneath it all.” – very nice

    Really enjoying your description of the towns and cities you’ve been thru on your Odyssey Matt. Kind of feels like a cool footy travel guide. I guess I’ll be going to Surfers rather than Broadbeach if I ever make it to the Gold Coast!

  2. pamela sherpa says

    Another great piece Matt. Trust you to be where the action was. I hope you get a decent feed real soon.

  3. nice zurbo , least the old dog wasnt the one with the suns player in the headlock!!

  4. Ahh, great to see Surfers hasn’t changed since my time up there in 2002 – 2004. You captured it beautifully Matt.

  5. Matt Zurbo says

    Thanks peoples!!!!!

    Pete, did you play up here? Who for? Or was it a footy trip?

    Gus, we have GOT to meet one day!

  6. Just lived up there Matt. My brother played for Labrador for a few years though.

    We’d go out sometimes for a raspberry and karaoke in some outer suburb, and then by midnight, if we’d had a skinful, there came the cry, “Surfers!”

    We still use it today as a euphemism today for “let’s get smashed, no matter where in the world we might be.

    I remember being at the Tropicana one night to watch an MMA card. The light-heavy weight and heavy weight favourites on the night were brothers. There were both under 6 foot but built like machines. They both won with the heavyweight brother belting the bejeezuz out of a 6’6” Swedish Dolph Lungdren look-alike. Those brothers were the door bouncers at one of the clubs on Cavill Ave so I know exactly what you mean when you say “Where bouncers openly itch for a fight.”

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