No Harmony For Dees

I’ve got a touch of the flu at present. That dreaded winter flu that hangs around like a fart in church. I thought I had it tossed last week and as a result maybe pushed things a bit hard. It came back at me on Friday with particular viciousness; roaring red throat, headaches, enormous lethargy.

So I sat up in bed on Saturday and listened to the footy. I don’t get many opportunities to listen to the footy whilst completely motionless these days (unless I’ve just come home from an Almanac lunch in which case its more comatose than motionless). It was a strange experience; strange because life was going on around me and without me with all its clambering and activity. It produces an odd feeling of detachment, like you’re looking at your life from the outside in. And strange because I was tuned into the Cats v Demons clash at Kardinia Park. This was surely one of the most outlandish games ever played.

The game started as my head hit the pillow. Jones for the Dees ran in off the line with severe intent and rammed into the centre square pack. It was the last time a Melbourne player did anything with any vigour.

You tend to hear things differently when you’re crook. There’s a clarity that’s absent when you’re in good health. Perhaps it’s the fact that you’re motionless; you let things roll over you rather than being absorbed in the distracting noises of daily life. The footy lost my interest at times and I began to hear other things. I heard a car go past with the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” blaring out of open windows. How does a band write something outstanding like “Sympathy For The Devil” and then write crap like “Start Me Up” I wandered.

The Cats were eight goals up. The Dees were somewhere else.

I heard a bloke standing at our front gate talking on his mobile phone. I couldn’t decide if he was speaking loudly or if I was straining to tune in. It was probably somewhere in between.

“Yeah”, he was saying, “I’m at the corner. Where are you?”

He got the answer.

“Where? Ha ha ha. You idiot!”

The Cats were 12 goals up.

He stood there for some minutes discussing the previous night’s activities with his mate, discussing a girl named “Luce”, and discussing where and how he and his mate would meet. It dawned on me why this phone call was unusual; because the bloke outside was standing still. From my observations mobile phones are so called because people speaking on them rarely remain immobile.

The bloke left our front gate, and the Cats tore the Demons apart. It was horrible, ruthless, and pathetic. They waltzed through the Melbourne fairy floss tackles, they ran in waves down the field like wasps attacking an abandoned sandwich, they took marks at every contest because there was no contest, hit every target,  and put nearly every shot through. They were shooting fish in a barrel. Stevie J was dancing on their grave and Varcoe, Stokes and Enright – to name a few – seemed to be playing kick to kick. Scarlett obviously got bored and ran into the middle yelling “kick it to me, kick it to me”.

I started listening to the boys on the ABC with interest. They had to find ways to entertain themselves. The scoreboard would only be a talking point once the game was over.  They began giggling at the ease of Geelong’s decimation of the Melbourne midfield, they laughed when Johnson unleashed a new trick, they squealed with excitement when Wojo burst through the middle and hit a target inside the forward fifty. Where were the Melbourne players? Perhaps they’d left the field. Indeed in the second quarter they only had 46 disposals in total across the whole team. How does a team flag so dismally?

Gerard Whately was using the game to hone his particular style of commentating; a style that relies on creating a mood through the use of words, and on timing. He had plenty of time this day. He doesn’t yell very often he just articulates even harder. And he doesn’t use colourful words, he just uses words colourfully.

“Enrigh—t has it at half bac—-k. He lays it off to Milburnnnn, Milburn to Wojcinski who BURSTS through the middle and find—-ssss Stevie Jayyyy. Johnson sees MooNEY! Mooney to Stokesssss to Duncannnn who steps around his opponent – it’s another oneeeee. This is a massacre.”

I didn’t feel sorry for the Dees. I may have felt something if they battled out a heroic victory or went down after a dour struggle, but I have no time for teams that get the sulks. To lose is one thing, to run and hide is unforgiveable. There is no excuse for the Melbourne performance. It was heartless, soulless and mindless. I hated it. I hated it for what it was and I hated it because it distracted from Geelong’s master class. No team in the AFL is 186 points better than another.

Later that evening, full of paracetamol, I went with the family to listen to the magnificent young men in the National Boys’ Choir of Australia performing their mid year concert. They are perhaps 120 boys in harmony and unison; a perfect musical instrument. They produced masterful renditions of Bach’s “Kyrie”, of Gabriel Faure’s “Ave Vernum Corpus”, and a piece by one of the choir’s artistic directors and conductors, Philip Carmody, called St Francis’ Prayer. The second half of the concert was a mini opera called “All The King’s Men”. It was a superb effort by these boys who range in age from perhaps 9 to 15.

The Demons would do a lot worse than to attend one of these concerts. They would learn what team work is, what disciplined execution is, what pride in performance can achieve.


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. “more comatose than motionless. It was a strange experience; strange because life was going on around me and without me with all its clambering and activity”
    Were you really home in bed on Saturday Dips, or did you line up on a back flank for the Dees? No wonder Chappy got so angry with you breathing all those germs over him.

  2. The Cats had obviously heard of your inconvenience and set out to cheer you up Dips.

    What considerate boys they are.

  3. Phantom – it worked. I feel OK today. Though the pleasure of such a victory would have had me instantly healed if the victim was Carlton or Collingwood, rather than the hapless Dees. .

  4. I just read that passage of play in Gerard Whately’s voice. Spot on!

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