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Goodesy

I remember watching Adam Goodes play football.

 

On my TV, Goodes was tall, but as tall as the rest of them, ironed flat by the television. He wore a distinct number for a player of his age and notoriety, a number high enough to be reserved for yet-to-bloom rookies. I must have asked my father why Adam Goodes wore the #37, my bastion of football knowledge, but I cannot remember a time where I was confused. 37 was Adam Goodes’ number. Jayden Post wore the jumper for my Tigers at the time, but he wasn’t Goodesy, my young mind was assured. Adam Goodes was a superstar, and that word is strong when softly spoken to a child who learned his numbers from those worn on the back of footballers.

 

I saw Goodesy play once, at the MCG when the Tigers that I adored so were playing the Swans and their champion. We won, but a single memory from a wing at age 10 was Goodes.

 

It was early in the game, on the far wing where we could not see clearly. Goodes was behind Tiger Bachar Houli, the Richmondite seated below the fall of the football, set up by what I recall being a hyperbolic, rain-scraping punt. Adam Goodes’ leap was perfect, seating his body upon one of Houli’s muscular shoulders, taking the ball at chest height in his hands.

 

Goodes was ripped from football as I began to appreciate his prowess off the field, as I began to grasp the brimming pail of fury that sloshed overboard whenever he played the game he loved and led. At age 14, I remember feeling inexplicably small and dirty when my teacher raised the fury to our class in an English lesson. I remember that lesson, recalling the half-understood articles I had pored over following the vitriol that broiled at Goodes’ every step. I remember that lesson, as children my age scoffed at how a man could cry after being called a name by a little girl.

 

I never knew enough about Australia’s history, something my mother, a wise, strong and wonderful woman, has sought to rectify. It was about the time that Goodes sat out of the AFL for a week, sending an unsure tremor oscillating about the country, that my mother told me of John Batman. I had never heard about Batman’s life apart from that he apparently founded Melbourne. Imagine how shaken, how disturbed I was when my mother read with me the man’s account of tracking Tasmania’s Indigenous peoples across the land, butchering them as he saw fit. I looked at the Tigers that weekend, wearing their Dreamtime guernseys that weekend in support of Goodes and felt that small, dirty feeling again.

 

What are we doing? As a country, what are we doing?

 

Adam Goodes, a man who, after being called an ‘ape’ over the fence by a young girl, asked for her to be shown support and called for her to not be blamed. Adam Goodes, a proud Adnyamathanha man who was named Australian of the Year for his tireless work in Indigenous communities and with every right to see Australia Day as a symbol of the oppression and violence dealt to his people. Adam Goodes, who performed a war dance in the AFL’s Indigenous Round to celebrate his culture, in a guernsey designed by his mother.

 

Adam Goodes, whose surname I yelled when taking hangers in the backyard because Richo, in my imaginary games, played further up the ground to kick the goals. Adam Goodes, who had replica guernseys rocked by every Swans supporter at the Auskick clinics of my childhood. Adam Goodes, who won two Brownlows, won two flags, featured in the All-Australian side four times and won both his club’s Best and Fairest and goal-kicking awards thrice.

 

Goodes stood up for himself and his people and was viciously, rabidly torn down by a pack of dogs for daring to question the white majority of Australia, for stepping outside the boundaries of football and speaking on equality and acceptance. Goodes attempted to make a positive change and was bundled from the game like a criminal. Still, he is the victim of many a racist’s feverish rants in a social media cesspit.

 

Yes, he may have played for a free kick, or tummy-punched an opponent. Joel Selwood is not booed every game, nor is Ben Cunnington. Gary Ablett was booed after he ‘liked’ a blatantly homophobic post by Israel Folau, who was subsequently sacked by Rugby Australia. Goodes was booed for being an Aboriginal man who refused to be placid and submissive, who used his position to fight for his people for a place in a country that does not even mention its Indigenous peoples in its Constitution.

 

I haven’t watched The Final Quarter yet. I’m going to, knowing that watching the documentary will see me terribly disillusioned about the state of affairs in this country. I feel small, insignificant, powerless. Adam Goodes was not driven around the field at the 2015 Grand Final when he retired, for fears of booing. He was booed from the sport that he improved and had given so much to. Adam Goodes was done the most incredible disservice by the nation and I am ashamed.

 

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About Paddy Grindlay

Paddy enjoys a good souvlaki and trying to kick droppies from the wrong pocket.

Comments

  1. TG White says

    Well said mate. You made this man cry again at the thought of a champion driven from the game but even worse, the continual denial of the terrible treatment that our Indigenous people have endured. I can only hope that more young people will start to view this issue through the same lens as you.

  2. L J Baker says

    Beautifully written Paddy ….. a wonderful tribute to Adam Goodes , the footballer , and proud , graceful and compassionate Indigenous person .

    It is hoped Paddy, with your obvious eloquence , that you will tell the story to your fellow students, and hopefully they too will become advocates in speaking out against the inequality the exists within our Indigenous communities.

  3. Rod Oaten says

    Brilliantly written Paddy.

  4. With you all the way, Paddy!

    I wrote something today in response to a Fairfax heading “AFL Fears Goodes Lost to Game”. Although I haven’t actually read it, the heading itself is suffice to ask the question: Why would Adam want to return to the scene of the crime? He has better things to do with his life now, especially with the GO Foundation http://www.gofoundation.org.au – far away from the viciousness and vitriolic atmosphere of those terrible three years.

    I also wrote this back in 2015, his final year:
    “It has taken an Australian Aboriginal man, Adam Goodes, to make a stand: a stand on ignorance, a stand on injustice and ultimately a stand on racism. Australia is divided. The Aboriginal brothers and sisters stand behind their man. The whites who abhor injustice to oppressed peoples, applaud, and sadly, the ignorant “I’m not racist but” amongst us simply don’t like it. In fact, they seethe with anger and hatred towards a black man who dares to stand up for his people and what they have been subjected to since white men took their land….”

    How ignorant we are to think the booing wasn’t racist!

    Great article!

  5. Lynn Baker says

    Great article Jan-as always !
    Hope your health has much improved Jan.
    He is to the young Paddy who has lead this article … may his understanding and compassion continue.
    Cheer Cheer !!

  6. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    This is beautifully considered, poised and written Paddy. Thank you.

    I’ve been turning so many thoughts since Channel 10 aired the doco, wondering what it made me feel, having lived through the years it describes and felt the bewilderment, shame and sadness you describe. There are so many strands that a concrete picture or statement about it eludes me. Maybe it always will and that’s the point.Goodes’ way through it all was so deft and light and powerful, compared to the vulgarity of his critics.

    I am hopeful for the future that youngsters like you can think so delicately too. Thanks.

  7. Hey Paddy!
    Another heart felt piece we have come to expect from you as your writings have always displayed your incredible emotional intelligence. It’s pretty obvious your Almanacker family is as proud of you as your beautiful mum and dad are.
    Well done matey and Go Tiges!

  8. Paddy – please don’t be despondent and ashamed of your country. Australia is not a racist country. The fact that we are one of the most diversified populations in the world would go a long way to supporting this view. BUT, Australia is a country with racist elements within it. Like most other countries in the world.

    Yesterday I was talking to a German couple who arrived in Australia in 1958, supposedly during our most racist period when people from all over Europe came here to escape the war and escape Soviet Russia. They have nothing but fond and beautiful memories of how well they were treated by Australia when they came here and are forever thankful for the decision they made. Did they confront some racist elements? Yes from time to time. But the fair and proper treatment they received is what lives with them; from the lady in Diamond Creek who reduced their rent when she found out they were struggling, to the man’s first employer who shook his hand and thanked him for his hard work at the end of his first week. Brilliant stories. And all this happened a matter of years after we fought the Germans. Good hearts generally prevailed.

    We shouldn’t hate our history but we should read it critically. Adam Goodes was not done a disservice by the nation but was treated poorly by some people and by some organisations. He is a strident man with strident views who confronted some harsh criticism and blatant stupidity. We should listen to his experience and learn from it. But that does not mean we should live in shame.

  9. Lovely heartfelt article Paddy about our Sydney champion.

  10. I also have tears in my eyes…a lovely written article Paddy. Adam just knew he had to make a stand…my friends tell me that he should not have attacked a young girl who called him an ‘ape’ over the fence.
    He did not attack the girl! What he did was simply try and educate us in how we should treat each other. Adam asked for her to be shown support and called for her not to be blamed.

  11. Paddy Grindlay says

    Thanks all.

    Dips, I hear stories like that all the time – my Dad grew up with the children of Vietnamese immigrants, housed at his school and given a leg up by all in sundry. He remembers the overwhelming positive response by both the school and the community. Immigrant families I’ve met have told me similar stories in detail about how they were accepted into the community.

    The way as a country that we treat Indigenous people is different from that. I wouldn’t say that I or the country live in shame from Goodes’ treatment – there is a lack of reconciliation with Adam and Indigenous people as whole however that spurred me to write this. That we don’t recognise Indigenous people in our Constitution is astounding, as is the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people on a number of social and economical levels.

    I’d agree that we shouldn’t live in overwhelming shame as it would be counter-productive, but that very little has been done to reconcile is concerning. Goodes’ disgusting treatment highlights that. I hope that good hearts prevail – I’m sure they will. But we must make an attempt to grow from our darker past – which I do hate a fair amount, considering it is built upon genocide. Rudd’s apology speech was a great place to start but since little has been done. We must move forward and Goodes’ treatment illustrates that much of the nation has not.

    I’d say we are a country built upon racism, a racism that showed its head with Goodesy. I’m ashamed of that. We don’t do enough to combat it.

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