It was bloody windy down in Southern Tassie as the Swans, without my great de-listed mate, Dean Towers, shuffled out to play the Bombers. Everything looked perfect up there, on the telly. Glossy. Like the Big Time.


The Big Time for half a crowd for teams in the lower half of the ladder.


Only the day after did the game get interesting.





Honestly, I’m sick of the haters. Hate the haters. Who invented the comments section anyway?


“So-and-so got two weeks, which was BULLSHIT, therefore Ablett should get them, too!!!!!!”

How about neither of them should have been reported for such frivolous garbage, play on.


“Buddy fended off high a month ago! Anyone else that would be a free!! Bloody Franklin!”


How about: “What a brilliant goal!”


“Total muppet!” You hear and read.

“Absolute spud.”
Insert player’s name here…



What do they get so personal for? You don’t have ownership.



I like Dane Rampe. He is one unique tripper! For four quarters the game was incredibly scrappy. It screamed of their positions on the ladder. The Swans had their necks in front most of the way, yet Essendon were clinging to them like a Terminator clings to a speeding getaway car. Then the final siren went. The Dons have a shot from 60, in swirling wind, to win it.




I couldn’t believe it! The bloke went the drop punt! Here was his Malcolm Blight moment! The stage set! Footy is craving for it: A good news, old times/new times story! Instant, total legend status. He gives up. Doesn’t even try to do a torp!


I rang a mate, ten-something at night, because I knew he’d have been watching.


“What an opportunity…” is all I had to say. He’s done a few laps of a Sherrin. The lack of words we have to share is golden.


Without Buddy on the oval, Sydney becomes far less enjoyable to watch. Lance is money well spent, I reckon. Just electric! I get tired of the tall poppy syndrome, people simmering and grumbling about him, just gagging for him to have a Goodes awakening, so their hate can blossom.


He seems likeable, jovial. I enjoy his freakish athleticism, they way he takes them on!! All of it!


He’s obviously worked hard, and can now mark overhead, too. What’s not to admire!?


On ya, Buddy, mate. Hurry back, kick a goal.


So yeah, without him, there were no standouts. Sometimes it does my head in, the way I kill time in front of a match while they sweat and toil and put bodies on the line. Out there it would feel like war. So much riding on every kick – finals, careers, incredible joy and devo heartache. Just one good game of bush footy gets me up for a week. Makes my life bearable, makes me bearable to my wife! Ha! God, I love her! A bad game destroys me. I can’t even drink beer!


Imagine for them, when the stakes are so much higher?


I try, for every player out there, to be involved, to care, but sometimes struggle.





The drop punt fell well short.


Fortunately, the game between two middling opponents was saved by a close finish, but it won’t linger.


Roll on, the players, roll on the fans, roll on me. Let out a fart, get up and do something.


Then, on Sunday, I see everybody is up in arms about Dane Rampe. Everybody! His name is trending more than that Global Warming bloke. People I consider solid mates, strangers, commenters by the truckload, they’re all onto him…


“What’s that scamp done now?” I wonder.


I always watch the AFL with the volume down. Actually watch it. You learn far more that way. I didn’t even notice that, as David Myers (Forever hereafter known as The Bloke Who Didn’t Torp) came in for his kick, Dane started to climb the goal post.


“What a wacky cat…” I thought. Only he would think outside the square like that. The game needs two dozen more of him, desperately! A pocket, flanker at best, taking on giants, week after week. This year’s Leo Barry, with a hipster haircut.


I’m no lip reader, but the goal ump seemed to go; “Dane, me ol’ Chinwag, tut-tut, hey, jolly-what. Not in the rules, good sport.”


A lesser man would have clung tight, arguing the point: “Actually, it isn’t in the rules, my equally good chappy. I’m not aloud to shake it! Climbing’s unheralded. I’m a pioneer!


Then again, my lip reading has been wonky ever since the rhubarb incident. Maybe the ump is full-blown yob. Maybe he said:


“Oi! Git down, clown, or I’ll ping ya!” and Dane went; “Awww…”


Either way, Dane, being a gentleman brand of oddity, simply let it go. In both senses. He dropped back to the ground barely a second after he started climbing.


All before the ball was even kicked.


No harm, good umpiring, play on.


But NO…! Oh the fury! Roll out the trumpets! Bring on the sour. Watch them squeeze lemon on their self-induced paper-cuts and let rip!


“AFL players are BILLIONAIRES! They should know the rules!”


Better than you, it seems.


“He shook the post!”


“Yeah! Saw it move! It MOVED! MY GOD IT MOVED! IT… IT… WOBBLED A BIT!”


A bump, a goal-line pack, it happens all the time. Like fingers touch a back before a speckie.


“Gah, Sydney! It’s rigged!”


And my personal favourite…


“A free is a free, no matter what!”




Imagine if EVERY free was paid? God help the game. The self-same shouters would be fuming!


I’ve had many an ump tell me after a minor scruff; “If you blokes keep this up, I’ll book ya.” Righto. We pull our heads in. Or: “If you keep blocking his run-up, I’ll pay a free.” Respect. I think I’m just using good bodywork, but righto. Roll on.


I tell all my mates what a good ump he was, nobody gets tethered to hate.


Such are functioning societies, with rules governed and lived in by human beings.


I know I’m sweeping a pretty broad broom here, that I have some ripper mates who are simply incredibly passionate about the game, I worship those individuals. But there are also too many angry people simply looking for excuses to be angry. About players. About umpires. About moments. About life and footy.


Good on ya, Drew. You did a small, silly thing. Started to have a crack at something ludicrous, if not… fun! And pulled up when told before the cherry was sunk into. Had no baring on the result whatsoever. Like Joel Bowden before you, you had a crack at something new, now they will rewrite the rules to bleed the individual further out. Prob for the best in both instances, but so what?


A game was remembered. A rule defined. Grumps grumped! Haha. Love your work, mate!


Once again you’ve left you mark.


24 hours later, finally, the game was over. All that was let was for me to go and play bush footy.



3 votes, me ol’ China.





  1. Rulebook says

    Firmly in the other camp old dog we as maggots can’t pick and choose which rules we like or dislike
    blatant kick on the goal line yet again the afl won’t admit a mistake they are like the,Fonz can’t say the word wrong.Over the mark by one millimeter or enter the protected area which is having no effect on the game the
    50 is payed this case no ifs buts or candy nuts free kick on the goal line had to be payed.It astounds me in a multi million dollar business players don’t know the rules inside out,Rampe had to pay the penalty and yes should have been suspended for misconduct combined with the super stars can elbow rule,Michael Christian had a Barry Crocker is putting it mildly

  2. george smith says

    Fortunately is is the Swans who have gotten away with non daylight robbery this time. Had goal post boy not had a Dr Phil moment, then this controversy would not play out. Takes the pressure off their next opponents at the SCG in 2 weeks, the “lucky” Magpies. If you have 2 teams with “lucky umpiring” issues, then the threat of an overreaction the other way is diminished.

    So to the scene of the crime, the SCG, where both teams have had lucky escapes over the past 2 years – by 1 point and 2 points respectively. Hope it’s not a draw, seriously…

  3. DBalassone says

    I’m with you mate. People seem to be black or white on this issue, but to me it’s all grey. I’ve never seen anything like that in the history of the game. Technically he wasn’t “deliberately shaking” the post, he was just “climbing the post”. Having said that, it was an act of staggering stupidity by Rampe, and I could understand if the umpire paid a free kick on the goal line. But maybe, just maybe, the umpire did the right thing here and used a common sense approach. Surely, it’s gotta be paid in the future though? Maybe Rampe done us all a favour by bringing to light something that is not covered clearly in the rules?

    Clear as mud.

  4. george smith says

    Well there you go:

    Goal post boy fined big time for dissing the umpire and climbing the goal post. Woe betide anyone who climbs the goal post in future. He did shake it you know. So the circus moves on until the next SCG home game versus the Magpies. See you all there.

    In the mean time Terry (the Swans) will shift their dodginess to Hobart, where they take on the Roos. While Arfa (the Magpies), will be seen lurking around the MCG to take on the Saints.

    Let’s hope that truth and justice don’t prevail…

  5. John Butler says

    Matt, I reckon this manic determination of the pen pushers to set every rule in black and white is a more impossible dream than anything Don Quixote tried.

    The rules have always had shades of grey. There’s always been an “it’s the vibe, it’s the feel” element. The game itself is random – oval ball, no offside, different shaped grounds. And it’s played by humans, who sometimes do weird things like Rampe did.

    But the more self important we become, the less we seem able to deal with shades of grey.


    PS: like you, I don’t understand why Myers didn’t have a crack. What did he have to lose?

  6. Matt, we call him Dane, not Drew. Maybe that’s what he was called at birth, but would be news to me.

    Agree with you

    [Sorted now – Ed]

  7. I get the shades of gray defence and the human unpredictability idea/l, but if I was a Bombers fan I’d be a bit dirty. Similarly, not sold on Gill’s comment that we apply the rules within context. Don’t think so. Was the context this is Sydney at home, and we’d prefer them to win and make a late, dramatic charge for the finals in the interests of the national competition and our broadcast partners? Asking for a friend.

  8. With you 100% Matt. Rampe was a dill, but the punishment has to fit the crime. “Get down you stupid boy” was much fairer than 50 metres and a certain goal/win for the lesser team. To me this goes to the whole issue of black and white literal application of RULES versus common sense application of FAIRNESS.
    This holds for every walk of life. I hate RULES – I love FAIRNESS. The problem with subjective application is that its all in the eye of the beholder. The problem with the literal application is that it can’t anticipate all the shades of grey that exist in the real world – including footy.
    I was at the Eagles Saints game on Saturday and the umps had a shocker. Particularly Eleni Glouftsis. Fortunately my Eagles got most of the “rub of the lime” from her. Sucked in by players staging. Lots of blatant but trivial frees paid. While dozens of throws/incorrect disposals and holding the ball/dropping the ball went unpaid. The game is umpired like rugger – as long as you are trying to move it on – its a free for all. Ugly.
    I had a great evening winding up all the Saints around me who were fulminating while trying hard not to be sexist. “Time the AFL had all female umpiring” got a lot of groans.

  9. Dave Brown says

    We had to make a comment to the league on Sunday about the standard of the umpiring at Under 11s. Not without a fair amount of reflection but when you have multiple player injuries from getting dumped after disposal, including one lad who is looking down the barrel of 12 months out of the game if the scans on his knee come out the wrong way, we felt we had to question the ability of the umpires on the day. Our “get to the ball first and the umpire will usually take care of you” was ringing hollow in our lads’ ears.

    It’s a bloody hard job. even harder at the AFL level when your own employer also employs journalists to publicly question every second call. “Did they get it right?” is always the question, rarely “were they in the right position to make a call?” or “are they prepared properly to make a call?” As if the truth is always certain or only one thing. Let alone any sort of consensus on how the game should be umpired. People don’t even know the rules but it doesn’t stop them teeing off.

    Actively avoiding spending my whole weekend angry this winter.

  10. E.regnans says

    With you M Zurbo.
    Storm, teacup.
    It’s footy. It’s life.

    So much outrage in the world.

    Let’s focus on climate breakdown if we need to focus on anything.

  11. Speaking of climate change and all the bickering the political parties are doing, it reminds me of a joke I heard years ago. it goes like this.

    Bank officer, Joe Blow lived at grange and had a choice of catching either the bus or train to go home. A friend told him that there were 3 new top of the art weighing machines recently installed at the Adelaide railway station. Joe promptly decided to take the train home that night and try out 1 of these new fangled machines.

    Now at the station, Joe spied the machines. Putting his brief case down, he inserted a coin into the slot and climbed aboard. Immediately a voice said, “You’re named Joe Blow, you’re wearing a grey suit and a red tie. You weigh 81 kilos and you intend to catch the five fifteen train to Grange”.

    “That’s incredible”, thought Joe as he wondered if he would get the same response from machine 2. Sure enough, on stepping aboard a similar voice said exactly what the first machine said.

    Thinking he’d trick the final machine, Joe inserted his coin and picking up his brief case, climbed aboard. The voice said, “Your name is Joe Blow, you’re wearing a grey suit with a red tie, you weigh 81 kilos, you’re holding a black briefcase that weighs 127 kilos and, with all your mucking around, you’ve missed the five fifteen to Grange”..

    Let’s stop mucking around and fix the climate.

  12. PS I’ve done it again – Joe’s brief case weighs 127 GRAMS not KILOS – silly me, quite obviously he weighs more than his briefcase.

  13. Thanks Matt, would love to hear your opinion on Nick Kyrgios.

  14. It might be just me, but I wanted Rampe to climb that post. I mean REALLY climb it. To the top, there to sway in the breeze like a gibbon on branch, or like Kate Miller-Heidke in the Euro-division final.
    Sorry Dane, half-arsed effort at best.

  15. Earl O'Neill says

    Damnit Matt, you pinched my lead! But you wrote it far better than I would have.

  16. If the AFL are going to introduce common sense to the game God help us! They will have to re write the entire rule book and there will be no end of indecision and personal bias .The rules stand for a reason; bad call Gil . You have opened a can of worms.

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