Gouge out my eyes (for I was wrong)

Mitch Fahey Xmas Tree St Mitch atop Fahey Xmas Tree

We have a pet rabbit called Basil. Sometimes I stand by his enclosure and watch him hopping and skipping about, smelling leaves and scratching behind his ears and I wonder what on earth he is thinking.

I used to wonder the same thing watching Mitch Johnson bowling, the only difference being that I’m usually seated whilst Mitch hurls cricket balls at batsmen.

Before this Ashes series started I confidently predicted that Australia would lose 3/1, and that we’d lose 5/0 if Mitch Johnson played. I could be wrong by a margin of ten Tests, which is pretty remarkable in a 5 Test series.

But I wasn’t the only one giving Mitch a hard time. Crikey even his Mum used to break his balls about his cricket and his girlfriends. Fortunately they seemed to have worked things out. The problem was that we spectators never knew what ball he was about to unleash. Apparently his Mum never knew what girlfriend he was about to unveil. Neither did he! He was a walking (cricketing) disaster.

In England a few years back he could hardly hit the pitch. A few deliveries barely landed in the same County. The English press laughed at him. The Barmy Army (an obnoxious bunch of rabble who should be sent to the penal colony called England) sang disparaging songs about him. Then he got the tattoo sleave. He was trying to cover up his bowling inadequacies with artwork. He was brittle, tortured, hurt. And I didn’t help.

I called him a pea heart, a knob, and even a cockhead (mea culpa) after one particularly bad performance. I yelled these things at him from the comfort of my own couch.

“You’re useless Johnson” I would exclaim whilst balancing the chocolate cake on my lap.

“You couldn’t get me out”  I bellowed whilst carefully placing my can of Carlton Draught on the side table so as to avoid leaving one of those immovable circle marks in the timber that no one has yet provided a solution to.

“This bloke is a massive dud” I texted to my mates as I let one rip against the leather upholstery.

I was wrong.

“For God so loved the Australian Cricket team, that he gave it the redeemed Mitch Johnson. Whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Yes, unlike Tim Flannery, I’m prepared to say I was wrong. I paid no heed to the pain the lurked within Mitch. I gave no regard for the injured pride, the hidden athlete, the burning need for redemption. I underestimated him.

He went away and worked. Then he worked some more. He also grew and matured and changed. It is what we all hope to do; to improve. He did. I didn’t think he had it within him.

I was wrong.

I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me….”

So I say to Mitch, strike me down, I deserve it. Cut out my tongue and gouge out my eyes. Let me know what it is like to be desolate, unloved, unheard, and un-seeing. Throw me to the wolves, burn my trousers and tear the buttons from my shirts. Make one leg grow longer than the other so I stagger and fall. Curse me with one of those nasty little funguses that grow under your toe nails (they’re impossible to kill). Blight me with perpetual wind. Do all these things and more.

But just keep ripping through the Poms!

About Damian O'Donnell

I'm passionate about breathing. And you should always chase your passions. If I read one more thing about what defines leadership I think I'll go crazy. Go Cats.


  1. Tickets for the event Dips describes in his second last paragraph are now SOLD OUT.

  2. Ditto on the mea culpa front for me Dips. I even bagged the whole Test series, saying there would be no sport worth watching between the GF and Rod Laver Arena.
    St Adam and St Mitch joined the Avenging Eagle and my Year 10 teacher in telling me ‘you’re getting too big for your boooooooots’.
    Still it takes a big man to admit it, or in your case……………..
    There I go again. You can teach an old dog, but you can’t teach him much.
    Personally I am waiting for ‘Faded’ and Flynny to write something even vaguely complimentary or conciliatory toward Watto.
    He is a Geelong ruckmen like Blicavs or West. He has his limitations but you need someone to plug the gaps and get the ball to Selwood etal.
    Maybe Menzel was the better analogy.
    There I go again. Regards to the family and our next swimming star in particular. Are you sure Basil is a rabbit and not a Siberian hamster? Pills time.

  3. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Don’t worry Dips, you weren’t Robinson Crusoe on this one.

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Dips I reckon if we were all to get in a line who got this wrong it would go from your place to , Peter Bs in , WA . The mystifying thing has been his accuracy you wonder if all of us as coaches analyse too much and try to be too technical a fantastic reminder never underestimate true pace . Thanks Dips and it is a privledge to read your family articles ! Go Kate !

  5. Its OK being wrong, from personal experience I’ve found it easily mastered. Usually when I bag some-one from the opposition, that is the time they really fire.

    Of all the commentary I have listened to about the great Mitch, one has caught my attention; His focus when he is bowling has now moved to the batting crease. Previously it was on the bowling crease. I.e. he is playing the game when the game is on.

  6. Steve Fahey says

    I too was a Mitch-bagger and am now repentant, relieved and very happy that he is showing us his talent.

    The only way I could atone for my considerable bagging was to make a large photo of the moustached one the star on the family Christmas tree this year. If I had any idea how to post a photo you’d be looking at it now. It was a big hit with visitors and has prompted the idea of this vantage spot being awarded to the family-nominated sportsperson of the year each year.

  7. MOC I’m negotiating with a bigger auditorium. More seats on sale soon. All proceeds to the Mitch Johnson breed-another-one charity.

  8. Dips
    concur re young Mitch but still think Warner is a gigantic flog. That said, I would like to see Mitch put on the bravado with Pieterson in the members car park and see how he goes. I think it might be like Joffa bumping into Plugger after giving him a mouthful all day.

  9. Me too Dips.

    I saw him in Brisbane and it started with his innings-saving batting. Then it wasn’t only his pace (he seemed quicker) but he really made the pill fly. Quickest I’ve seen since the West Indians were on fire.

  10. Andrew Fithall says

    And me as well Dips. And you can add my prognostications on the re-selection of Haddin. And PJ Flynn’s opinions on M Clarke sending the Poms in in the 4th test. I think I actually heard a verbal admission from PJF at lunch on day 4 in the Blazer Bar. It does get noisy in there so I am not absolutely sure.

  11. AF – Flynny would have been saying “one more” not “I was wrong”.

  12. Dips
    I was wrong about Mitch Johnson – a truly remarkable career turnaround,
    I was wrong about Brad Haddin – he has been invaluable, paticularly with bat,
    I was not wrong about Shane Watson.

  13. Would I be far off the mark if I suggested that the collective consciousness of the GoldenGreen cricket fan — as expressed above — lulled the To & Froms into believing this tour was going to be a piece of cake? That they could sprinkle their gluttonous way through their pre-tour catering list and ride glorious down Pall Mall in a London bus to another ticker tape parade and a medal pinning ceremony at Trafalgar Square?

    Take a bow all you Aussie naysayers. Rejoice the hubris you helped create in the England Camp. The poor buggers didn’t know what hit them. This St Crispin’s Day will be celebrated by the laying out of the body bags of Captain Cook & his Cerebrally Broken Men in Trafalgar Square.

    Who was Trafalgar anyway?

  14. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Spot on , The Wrap

  15. Peter Flynn says

    Yes tongue in cheek at Blazer Bar.

    Clarke should have batted first.

  16. ‘twould appear I spoke too soon. Andrew Wu, in today’s Sage, tells us that the chairman of the selectors who sent out this vainglorious rabble to long reign over us is to be awarded an OBE – which you could be excused for thinking stands for One Broken England.

    That’s right, the bloke who sat at the head of the table and okayed sending the overwrought Jonathon Trott, the tired Graeme Swann, the swaggering Sir Kevin Pietersen, the bumbling Matty Prior, the ineffective James Anderson and the wanna be somewhere else Ian Bell – he’s going to receive a gong. Even in this over administered Antipodean sports culture he’s he gonged, not receiving one.

    Then there’s the last mention of those we are unlikely to see again on the Fatal Shore – Ian Ronald Bell MBE. Also quoted by Andrew Wu, from the Cricketinfo website, he tells us that “Maybe we are at the start of a new journey. (At least he got that right) We have to draw a line under the team that won so much over the last few years and accept that this is a new team with several younger layers. (Like Carberry?) It will take a while or the likes of Ben Stokes, Joe Root and Johnny Bairstow to gain the experience you need at this level, and learning in front of 90,000 people at the MCG is a big ask. In fact, it is as tough an environment as I have experienced. (Now there’s an admission for you) That makes it all the more important that senior players like me step up and help them through”.

    Fait dinkum, you’d have to wonder where this blokes been these last few weeks — or even years. Look, I’ll join Dips in the mea culpa queue if I’m wrong, but isn’t he the same Ian Ronald Bell MBE who spooned a catch to mid off for a golden quacked that had all the hallmarks of a Mumbai Bagman’s promise, in front of those 90,000 fans?

  17. Where’s my gong? Golden Wombat with Wattle Leaf clusters??

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