May the force be with you

I have a four year old son who is mad about Jason and the Argonauts, Batman and, above all, Star Wars. Together we have watched all six episodes of said saga many times. Further, we have played Lego Star Wars on the Playstation almost every day since Christmas, but only when the baby is asleep — that’s the rule. We’ve assembled space ships and figurines, dueled with light-sabres and have fought over who’s going to be Luke and who Darth Vader during our battles.

I was beginning to think that nothing could ever take the place of Star Wars for him, so obsessed was he with that tale of Arthurian-like adventure, but then this footy season started and he began to embrace the Bulldogs.

 He’s not totally converted, though. He does tend to view the Dogs through Star Wars-coloured glasses, which is fine by me as long as he sticks with them, but this frame of reference has made for some interesting conversations during game time and some prolonged musings on my part as well. To wit:

 “Johnno’s a bit like Luke Skywalker, isn’t he Dad?”

 “Why do you say that?”

“He’s a good guy and he’s really cool.”

Can’t argue with that.

 “Do you think Johnno has a light-sabre dad?”

 “I’m sure he does.”

 “Which colour, because Luke has a blue one in the first movie then a green one in the next one?”

 “Well, blue, for the Bulldogs. I think.”

 Halfway through that particular game, junior hiked off to bed and I was left to watch yet another Dogs victory by myself, and that’s when the musings began.

 If we accept — and I think the above conversation proves that we must — that Johnno is Luke, then which of the Bulldogs is Obi Wan? Who’s Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Yoda and so on?

 These thoughts I pondered.

 Obi Wan was easy: Chis Grant. He’s departed physically, but his spirit lives on, he’ll always be the Bulldogs for those who grew up watching them in the ’80s. But then I thought, no! What about EJ? Surely he must be the one? There can be no greater presence lurking down at Whitten Oval than his. I argued about this with myself for a while until I realised that if I was ever to get through the game I’d just have to agree to disagree with myself on that one.

 I tried to tune back in to the footy, but the Star Wars theme wouldn’t leave me alone…

So, we know who Luke and Obi Wan are, but who are the rest; for instance Anakin Skywalker (aka Luke’s Dad, aka the original great white hope, aka Darth Vader)? Once again, simple: Nathan Brown. Now before you all start yelling that Browny is younger than Johnno so how can he be his Dad, let me defend myself. Yes, Browny’s youth does make it hard for him to be Johnno’s father, but let’s not get bogged down in detail. Browny burst onto the scene full of wayward promise. A wild child, the best draft pick we’d had in ten years, the one to lead us out of the wilderness (like Anakin). And then…

 … in his prime he was lured over to the Dark Side (Richmond) by none other than the ultimate defector, the Emperor himself (aka Terry Wallace, aka Darth Sidious, aka Senator Palpatine) where he mangled his leg, just like Anakin did. Browny was Wallace’s prodigy just as Anakin was The Emperor’s. That therefore makes Browny Darth Vader, or it will do, if and when he goes on to kick the winning goal against the Bulldogs in a Grand Final, or coach Richmond. Sorted.

But what of the minor characters?

R2D2 and C3PO are easy: Scott Wynd with his stilt-like legs and jerky running style is the taller droid and little roly-poly Libba has to be his enigmatic sidekick.

Libba, though, after turning to the Dark Side in 1997 (see Year of the Dogs, not strictly part of the Star Wars saga, but certainly a tale packed with similar intrigue), at the behest of Terry Wallace (starting to make sense, isn’t it?) could also make a case for being the little red and black headed Dark Lord from the fourth – now the first – movie: The Phantom Menace named Darth Maul, or in Libba’s case Darth Small (and nasty).

But wouldn’t Libba make a good Yoda, you say. No! Small he may be, but good he is not. Hmmm? Yoda, the mystical master of all things Jedi must be Charlie Sutton, whose gnarly ears combined with the fact that he’s the only Dogs captain to win a flag make him the one — if only he was green.

Over the years there have been many Whitten Oval candidates for the role of that other gnarly Star Wars character, Chewbacca. Many tall and gorilla-like lads: Barry “Fish” Stanfield, the “Big Rig” Ilja Grgic, Glenn “Galaxy” Coleman all could plead strong cases, but none of these could match new comer: Ben Hudson, who with his red Ned Kelly beard is the perfect Chewbacca.

And finally, what of Princes Leia? I know it’ll be controversial to some but when I think Princess Leia I think Rohan Smith. Not because he’s in any way effeminate, or princessy, but simply because he and Johnno are so close in many ways, like Luke and Leia, that to separate the two would be a crime. Plus, when he started at the club he sported a mullet every bit as ridiculous as Princess Leia’s bread-rolls-stapled-to-the-side-of-the-head look from the first – now the fourth – movie: A New Hope.

So that’s it for major characters, I thought, but then I realised I’d left one out: Han Solo, the swashbuckling, good-hearted vagabond, reluctant saviour and master of the fastest ship in the galaxy. I couldn’t find a Han Solo anywhere and that, I thought, is why the Bulldogs can’t win the flag, at least not yet: no Solo, no September. I have hopes for Robert Murphy on that score, but he’s not quite there yet.

Satisfied that I’d worked out the Star Wars/Bulldogs matrix I settled in to watch the rest of the game, which I soon discovered had already finished. Damn. I opened the DVD cupboard and searched for something else to soothe my addled brain … Lord of the Rings would do. Episode one: The Fellowship of the Ring. Yes. Now…if Johnno is Frodo…



  1. So the Auskick kids at half-time? They must be Ewoks.
    John, remind Junior that International Star Wars Day is nearly upon us: May the 4th be with you…

  2. Someone has to bring this piece to the attention of Robert Murphy at the Bulldogs. It would be right up his alley.

  3. No, Stephen. John’s a good writer. Murph should be a good footballer. Most of my Doggy mates cringe at his writing.

  4. I can’t agree with that, Crio. I’m a Doggy fan and look forward to Bob Murphy’s column every week. I think he’s a great writer who captures the essence of the game and of life in general.

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