Gold Coast gold

By Rick Kane

Ratten was sacked by Carlton this week and this story is not about that. The Gold Coast Suns (they couldn’t possibly be the Sons as players have come from pretty much everywhere in Australia but the Gold Coast) caused the upset of Round 22 when they defeated the Blues. This triggered a decisive (read knee-jerk or, for the more cynical, calculated) reaction from the Carlton Board. A media conference was called to announce the worst kept secret in footy (at least for this week). Ratts, as his mate and Carlton president, Kernahan affectionately referred to him (who didn’t introduce himself as Sticks at the media conference), is no longer the coach of the Carlton seniors. This is either because the loss to GCS was the straw that broke the camel’s back or the most conclusive evidence that it’s time to change.

Two weeks ago I sat three rows from the boundary fence at the G, watching a game that started at 4.40pm on a Sunday afternoon. This is a most ungodly time to watch any sort of sporting event, except for darts. And that’s coming from an atheist. And footy lover. The Hawks played the Gold Coast Whatevers. The Hawks were expected to trounce them. They didn’t. For a fair part of the game it was game on.

I went there to see Buddy’s return (he didn’t play) and Ablett (he did). At first I observed proceedings with an almost detached, bemused air. Before the first quarter was done, I was sitting up, paying attention. Not in a Hawks vs Pies or Tigers sorta way but certainly well beyond a Port or Dogs sorta way. The Suns are coming along. The AFL experiment, the Frankenstein project, if you like, is, dare I say, showing some signs of, well, results. I’m not saying they should be on stage singing, ‘Putting On The Ritz’ but, rehearsals are going well.

The key improvement is that Ablett now has someone to play with and his name is Harley Bennell. They form an impressive duo. Specifically, Ablett now has at least one Gold Coast player that has somewhere near the same level of footy intelligence as him. They read each other pretty well. They have different styles of play and therefore don’t ‘bump’ into each other (physically or egotistically) and that makes their partnership look even cooler. Are they Lennon and McCartney or Strummer and Jones or Hodge and Mitchell? I don’t know but they are a good team.

The Suns are getting better so of course they are going to cause an upset or two. They beat the Tiges, a team touted as being on the rise. The Tiges, remember, trounced the Hawks. (That hurt to write). GCS almost beat the Cats. (That didn’t). At the time, the general appraisal of that near upset was that the Cats were on the decline. With hindsight, I think it fair to say that the result said more about the Suns arc than the Cats. The competition is more evenly matched than the Carlton Board’s decision suggests. All of this is to say that I think the Blues miscued on this decision. But that’s not what this story is about.

This story is about the team that would win the premiership, if awarded based on the team with the most exotic names. (That’s right, I actually read the Record on that late Sunday afternoon at the G as pigskin was booted back and forth and the day turned slowly into night). The Suns are the sons of a 21st Century Australia. Lord Bogan’s work to create a Youth Almanac is IMHO the best measure of this website’s future. In a contrived connection and largely uninformed way, the Suns/Sons, likewise, are the beginnings of the next chapter of Australian Rules football, writ large through their players’ names. We are still one or more chapters shy of the multicultural mirror of our country truly being reflected on AFL footy fields but the Suns are furiously writing their part.

So, what am I talking about? Well, when I look down Hawthorn’s list I see a large slice of traditional white bread names. On that list Schoemakers is exotic. Xavier and Isaac raise an eyebrow, that’s all. In the GCS squad, they would merely fill out the numbers.

No. 4 for Gold Coast goes by the name of Maverick Weller. I can’t believe he doesn’t have an acting agent and his own range of cologne. My Catholic confirmation name observes St Bartholomew because I wanted to be named after my favourite TV character, Bart Maverick. This kid goes leaps and bounds further. He’s named after the Top Gun character or because his folks are the hippest of hippies. Either way, kudos to the call.

Then there is Alik Magin. Where is he from? What’s his story? If his star rises, footy journos, pens salivating, will come after Alik and his tale.

Can you get a cooler name than Harley Bennell? I keep pronouncing his surname incorrectly. My ten year old castigates me. Is the emphasis on the N or the L? Harley will be a story. And his name will just get cooler. Old farts like me will keep mistaking his surname which will just make him cooler with the young.

In this group guys called Piers Flanagan and Josh Toy (yes, a Toy boy) are almost run of the mill Smith or Kane type names. As I scrolled down the Suns players list on that Sunday twilight kick to kick I kept shaking my head at how cool were the names. Who the hell gives a kid a name like Piers in the 21st century? That is a kid destined to be a Butler. Did he rise above his station? It’s almost a pommy cum Aussie fairytale. Josh Caddy and Henry Schade add filmic and European colour to the team mix. Karmichael Hunt makes you wonder if the guy was named after the sequel to Steven King’s novel, ‘Christine’. Whatever the case, the names jump out at you. Young Horsley’s first name is Kyal. Is that handed down through generations or a misspelling of Kyle? It doesn’t matter. Kyal works, Kyal is kool.

Seb Tape, Dion Prestia and Jaeger O’Meara may well be just more players in an AFL squad that ultimately don’t make it in the big league but on the GCS list they reinforce that this team is of tomorrow not the past. I want to hear Cometti calling the footy, almost sing these lines, “Jaeger to Toy who handpasses to Harley and he looks to Piers (a butler, if ever there was) who gives it on to Alik who quickly moves it on to Karmichiel who dodges a tackle, handpasses to Dion and snaps to Maverick. He lines up, handpasses to Schade and kick to Ablett”. Welcome to the future.

Footy is about so much more than the game and GC sons highlight that far beyond the immediate blues they have caused.


  1. Kyal comes from Kalgoorlie.

  2. Gollum Voldermort says

    Do just don’t get it do you Rick, do you? To get on in the 21st Century you have to stand out from the crowd. Anyway, what sort of a name is Rick?

  3. Caddy’s nickname is Shack, bestwoed on him by the Keeper of Nicknames Ken Hinkley. He is a nice player, young Shack. They have a few who remind me of those 100 meter players as they were described for a while – run 30, and kick 70. Like Mark Browning.

  4. Thanks Les, can we then presume it’s just a poor (or individualised) spelling then.

    Good point, er, Gollum. You reckon I should add a little flair and go by the name Ricardo? I wish I had been named Sue.

    I’m happy to hear Caddy has that nickname JTH. Great nickname from a great film. If he wasn’t so nice, I wonder whether Hinkley would have chosen another film to reference the kid. I’m thinking of Cape Fear (the original, starring Robert Mitchum). He would then be known as Max.


  5. Of course they are Sons, Rick. Their best player is a Son of someone who was arguably the best player of his time. Their worst behaved player (Campbell Brown) is the Son of a player who was considered by many to be the worst behaved player of his time. Brandon Matera is the son of the only Matera not to play enough games to qualify his son for father/son recruitment

    Harvey Bennell is more of a cousin. There is a Bennell at Melbourne, there was one at Collingwood and I believe that there are some in the WAFL. Nathan Krakouer was a cousin, too, until the Suns cut him. Liam Patrick is a cousin of Liam Jurrah

    David Swallow and Matthew Warnock are brothers of players from other clubs. Coach Guy McKenna is a “favourite son” of former West Coast and Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse.

    I know why you have a soft spot for the Suns, Rick. They are another family club.

  6. There was a Kyle Motors in Kalgoorlie (might still be). Maybe Kyall was named after that… with the slightly incorrect spelling.

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