Now He Can Play

Now He Can Play.


This happened on one of those beaut days, down in the rolling Carlile Valley, where Otway sometimes play their home games. Mid-season, usually, to get away from the mud of the mountains and let the ground mend.

Carlile is the bush. Nowhere, in the best way. It doesn’t even have a shop any more. Just hills that go forever until they merge with the sky.


The Twos were hacking away when I arrived and saddled up to Bert, an old salt from Beech Forest, up on the Ridge. We talked farming a bit. Weather. Football, while watching football.

The local kind.


“What did you think of this player?” I asked, about a battler.

“He could play,” Bert said, in a flat-line.

“What did you think of that player?” I asked, of a former Captain.

He could play,” Bert said, slightly raising his tone on the first word.

“What do you think of that bloke?” I asked, of a gun.

“Now he can play!” he insisted.


Sheer magic!


Not once did he take his eyes off the oval, or open his mouth enough to let in a fly.


We all have our levels. Kevin Bartlett, I’m told, once said anyone who’s played 200 games in the AFL is a good footballer. That was his yardstick. 100 didn’t mean that much. I once asked one of my best mates, George Craig, who came over here from Scotland in the 70s as a professional soccer player and stayed, who he thought were good players in the English Premier League. He said: “Matie, anyone who plays at that level is a great player.” At my old club in the Amateurs we had a bloke come back who played one senior game for Richmond and we thought he was a Champion!

None of us were wrong.


  1. Malby Dangles says

    Ask my 4 year old son. He thinks I can play!

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