Life and what’s really important

by Malcolm Rulebook Ashwood

I reckon as we grow older we evaluate and examine ourselves, mellow and have a good hard look at ourselves and life in general.

I admit while I will always have an interest in AFL footy (ironically I enjoy writing about it more than watching) the change of rules, interpretations, the fact that it really is an extended VFL and then Essendon’s appalling arrogance, stupidity, dishonesty and poor governance by both the AFL and the bombers really the final straw.

Deep down I have always been far more of a Norwood man in the SANFL than Crows, the stupidity to bring in the last touch rule (free kick against the team who last kicked the ball before it went out of bounds) has caused my interest to wane.

Cricket wise at a local level coaching has become more a telephone game in that I was constantly ringing any one and everyone begging them to play, Saturday has become a working day in general so ironically when the chance to work for the SDA (shoppies Union) came up I couldn’t resign from cricket coaching quick enough.

During the last few years I have helped Rick Neagle with Dignity for Disabled (d4d) at various fund raising events and in general and while I loved Neag’s 6 goals in the 82 SANFL GF cutting the Bays to shreds I am in awe of the man now, how he manages to be the head of d4d, heavily involved in autism and Variety in general as well as look after his own son, Mitchell who is autistic has me stumped. Mitch is a great kid but in reality he is bloody hard work.

Rick Neagle how you have dealt with the cards which have come your way is a credit to yourself and I am proud to have you as a friend and delighted that I can help with Mitchell and yourself in some way. Rick also provided a fantastic moment in helping myself evaluate what is really important on arriving at a d4d election night party and in a shocking mood we had lost outright in cricket (never a good loser) I looked around the room and I thought what right had I to be pissed off about a Mickey Mouse game of cricket compared to the disabilities in the room and the positive attitude which exuded and how these people were all looking at the positive aspects of life being around, Neags is always a great reminder and leveller in life at what is really important.

A email from Georgi Bah from work came around about her cousin’s family Jenna and Clayton Faggotter, they had received the completely unfathomable and devastating news that their three children Charlie, Hayden and Lockie had been diagnosed with Duchenne’s Disease which is an acute form of muscular dystrophy.

Imagine the brutal reality your children are going to spend the majority of their limited life span in wheel chairs and you are going to outlive your children, it sends shivers down the spine to say the least.

The sheer expense re building a home which is completely wheel chair friendly and the associated medical expenses are incomprehensible.

I urge everyone to click on the link, make a donation and spread the word, this is vitally important unlike a game of sport.



  1. Wondering if we should change that nickname to something like Plato or Voltaire or Descartes who said “strength is derived by ignoring the weaknesses of the human physique and relying on the infinite power of the human mind” and in many ways that is what I see here. There is so much adversity but the power of doing what you do – and the stuff I see Rick doing – says it all. We sit and feel sorry or take action. Keep it up Mal.

  2. Charlie Brown says

    You are a marvel Rulebook and a great human. I can only but admire your passion and sheer hard work for both this and other life causes.

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    Heartbreaking. Puts many things into perspective. Will make a donation right now.

  4. Well said Book. Wally May used to say “I call it as I see it” and so do you. Passion and straight talking. Well done to you and Neags too.

  5. Nick Raschella says

    Malcolm I’m glad to have been able to give you a hand to help the cause fo Charlie, Hayden and Lockie at the fundraiser a couple of Saturday’s ago.

    Life isnt fair for some. I dont know why some are dealt such a dramatically worse hand than the majority of us, but hopefully lots of small contributions can help the boys and their family over the next few years to get a decent standard of life through their late teens and into their 20’s and 30’s.

    You have always talked highly of Rick Neagle but I got to admit when I got a chance to listen closely to what he had to say he was very impressive.

  6. Onya Rulebook! Great work as usual, and you moved me to donate … of course! :) Great cause and I get the sentiment.

    I also like to think of the reverse … if it wasn’t for sport, I wouldn’t know you, and I wouldn’t be here donating to this cause. Sport is a wonderful thing in that it brings people together with common values – and why they won’t always see eye to eye, they will invariably pull together when it is the only right thing to do.

    Some other thoughts from left-field perhaps …

    I watched the power of hate last night on TV … John Laws (charmer that he is) was quite chuffed at inciting hatred against the accused perpetrators of a heinous murder of a woman in Sydney in 1986, and I know lots of people will feel that is justified. Channeling hate can never lead to anything good – the emotional wreck of a husband was prompted by the interviewer to tell us all that if the perps are ever released (which he has been told is a possibility) then he will have no hesitation in exacting his ultimate revenge – as a kind of misguided atonement. Not sure where that helps anyone, or what positive spin there could be in this event.

    Why do I bring this up here?

    I imagine the sense of helplessness and anguish for the 3 boys could be somehow comparable – but instead of inciting hatred of the unfairness of life and the universe, something very positive is happening instead. I do agree with channeling public emotion to achieving great outcomes like this initiative for the 3 boys … how much better would it have been then to have been able to do something similar back in 1986 to give a man and his family back the life they have seemingly given up on. I guess this is the chance we now have in this age of information.

  7. Rick Neagle says

    Rulebook, you are a credit to youself, your family and friends. Being a volunteer in any capacity is a thankless job. There are many people out there in our various communities who respect your dedicated support and timeless efforts. As you would know, becoming a dedicated volunteer, can yield many personal rewards. Simply put, people like yourself truly get it – the most important things in life

  8. Jeff Milton says

    Malcolm outstanding effort in supporting those that really need and deserve help. Really does put life in perspective.

    Rick all the best for you and your family and your outstanding efforts throughout the community.
    A true champion from a great footy club that has contributed so much beyond footy.

  9. Graeme Adams says

    Nice article Malcolm. My interests in football and cricket have been on the wane since they changed from being sports which made money to exist to sports which now exist to make money.

    Pity these obscene structures such as the AFL don’t donate substantial sums to causes such as these.

  10. Mark Claeke says

    Malcolm, it never ceases to amaze me how you manage to condense so much about life and sport so well, you are a true wordsmith!
    I agree with your comments about the national VFL, and the changes to the game UNDERWHELM me as there was nothing wrong with the way the game was played before. I stopped watching the AFL because I found it so frustrating to watch “Flooding” and constant switching and kicking across own goals that I was wanting to throw things at the TV!
    As much as I love to watch the “Legs” play, win, lose or draw, I never forget that it is just a game, and the sometimes Feral hatred displayed by some footy fans makes me wonder about their priorities, when there are so many other more important things in life to get worked up about, and channeling those passions into something helpful and constructive as you do is a fine exemplar for all to see!
    Looking forward to more of your work, and a successful year for our beloved REDLEGS THIS SEASON!!!
    GO LEGS!!!!!

  11. thanks Book – there are always people doing it bloody hard day in and day out. People like you help to make their lives just that little better. sport is a great vehicle to bring people to together for sure! Well done mate.

  12. Garry Davis says

    Rulebook, you’ve hit the nail on the head as usual, wrt both the footy and life in general. Said another way, I read what you’re saying as: “don’t sweat the small stuff, because it’s all small stuff” – except when something devastating like this happens. Thanks to people like you, Rick and the many other unsung “doers” all around us, we are all given pause to stop and think about what is important in life, and then to act in whatever small way we can to help out.
    Keep promoting these worthy causes.

  13. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Terrific stuff, Malcolm. Perspective of where sport lies in the meaning of it all comes through. We can still enjoy our games and alert ourselves to real issues. They don’t necessarily have to be exclusive. Kudos to you and Rick.

  14. Campbell says

    Great article Malcolm, really puts things into perspec

  15. Wade Williams says

    Never ceases to amaze me Malcolm the hard work you put in helping other which may i say what an incredible job,then looking after Mitch your one iconic man.
    another great read mate.look after yourself and will see you at the parade

  16. Hey Malcolm, I’ve just discovered this article and found it very moving. I’m proud to have you as my friend, It most certainly was my good fortune to have you as a student in my wea fishing classes all those years ago.Although i follow the Crows, like you my heart and soul is in the Norwood football club. My other sporting loves are the Goodwood Indians baseball club where I idolized their pitcher, the great Peter Box (in ’50s and ’60s) and SA cricket. Anyway Rulebook, my own health problems have restricted my fishing and made it impossible to get to the footy or cricket resulting in my “square eyes” and reading your fantastic articles. Also enjoy articles and comments from Swish despite him being a Centrals man. Keep writing your inspiring stuff.

  17. Fisho thank you and I value your friendship and folks I will say,Fisho is easily the best fisherman I have seen.
    We had been on KI and Emma said we always do what I want to do so Daniel and I tried fishing after struggling putting it mildly we came back and did the WEA course easily the best,WEA course I have done space,2nd we learnt a lot and appreciated your help big time.I admit I find this article pretty emotional
    Thanks folks

Leave a Comment