One Moment Please- John McCarthy and all of Australia

Inspired by the philosophies of Ben Footner and his mate because I loved the way he captured the ‘moment’ that we all seem to be chasing in our lives. It’s true often that ‘moment’ can be found at the Footy. That’s the reason why half the nation is addicted to the game of Football because it is in those ethereal hours when we are at the Footy that nothing else in life seems to matter. It’s the ‘moments’ provided by so many things in life that we all need.

The game of Football itself is one of those ‘moments’ but it is the action that unfolds that decides the ‘moment’ it will be. People find themselves caught in the ‘moment’ of the game as it seems that at any point ‘the moment of joy’ may occur.

The game-breaking performance of Taylor Walker proved to be ‘the moment of joy’ for the Adelaide faithful on Friday night.

For me the ‘moment’ this round came from the team I despise as much as the next person- The Collingwood Football Club. The courage displayed by each player on Saturday night. The mixed emotions of joy and anguish post game. Most pertinently the poignant ‘moment’ touching the banner before the game which read “RIP MATE” gave the whole Football community an insight into how much John McCarthy meant to the players at his first AFL club where he played the majority of his AFL career. The words that read “RIP MATE” universalised the grief that the sudden death of a young man means for communities around all of Australia. John McCarthy a celebrity in this land due to his status as a young AFL player is not the only person who has had his life ended prematurely.

The media coverage ensured that every person in this land were aware that a young AFL player lost his life in Las Vegas in what seemed to be a sudden moment of madness though much of it is still shrouded in mystery. The Australian community was reminded of the fragility of life. From the most unlikely of sources it is the profound words of Dale Thomas, courtesy of twitter, “Days like today put everything in perspective – rest easy mate , we’ll miss ya! Xxx” that universalises the death of John McCarthy but also shows what such an event has on the people that John affected throughout his life. Such sentiments are sometimes only found in the hard times. With all due respects to the friends and family of John McCarthy, it is the death of this young man who still had so much to offer serves as a remainder to all people and is a perfect opportunity for us all to “put everything in perspective”.

As we grow older those around us grow older too – the passage of time in this way is a fact of life. As I have progressed through my teenage years I have experienced the death of three of my grandparents. I’ve grown up in the city whilst all my grandparents resided in Shepparton and Wodonga. Growing up Footy was the connection between me and my Grandfather, he was a North Melbourne supporter whilst I am a Richmond supporter. Up until his very last days I could always rely on his phone call on a Sunday night and his handwritten letters in the mail. He had a different “perspective” on things to most people, it was his quirky and offbeat outlook in life that drew me in. I was captivated as I imagined a younger version of my Grandfather and he told stories of post-footy season trips, they got up to Cape York once that was a big deal- a far cry from todays norm of Las Vegas. He was diagnosed with cancer only a few months before he passed away, it was painful and a harrowing experience for the family as we went to see him, his battle with the cancer became more evident as each day wore on. What struck me was the courage and fighting spirit he always had, he told me that he got such a spirit from growing up playing sport in the country. A man who loved his Footy but maintained the lessons he learnt from sport long after he could even manage a light jog. As I’ve already mentioned he had a unique perception on life but it was the last time I saw him that “put everything in perspective” for me. He told me that the most important thing in life are your mates, the people you love. In death communities come together in grief as they remember the life of the deceased and share memories. It becomes evident how much this person meant to the community but what is never able to be told is how much the community meant to that person. the most important thing in life is the people and the relationships we have with these people. This is most evident in the wake of John McCarthy’s death.

Death can mean many things. It can serve as a stark reminder of how precious our lives are. Reminding us to enjoy every ‘moment’ we have. Reminding me of a cliché reportedly first said by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius “Live not one’s life as though one had a thousand years, but live each day as the last.” As true and relevant thousands of years ago as it is today. Over the years it has been convoluted but has held its place in every society since Aurelius uttered the words, today it comes to us in the cliché “live every day like it’s your last one.” McCarthy reminded us that we never know when this last day will come. Due to his status McCarthy may serve as a reminder to all of Australia but young men and women lose their lives due to preventable and unpreventable causes every day.

We never know when our last day may come – McCarthy certainly didn’t. Whilst we still have life to enjoy we need to enjoy it to the fullest, appreciating every ‘moment’ that comes with it.

A truth of life is that we often find inspiration in the most unlikely of places. It is not just death that can “put things in perspective” but often things happen to us that alter our perception of the world and our thoughts and feelings on everyday things. This happens as we experience more of the world. Death of others in just one experience of life but as we grow and learn more about our perception and understanding of the world also changes.

Just as we often find inspiration in the most unlikely of places, we can find a ‘moment’ in everything we do even in the mundane.



Rest In Peace

Owen Smith

John McCarthy

and all those who have passed on from this world.




About Will Brussen

Will Brussen is a Tiger, he loves the Richmond Tigers and he has suffered. He finds solace in the fact that he did not choose the Tigers, they chose him. He finds comfort in watching replays of the 1980 grand final, on repeat. He finds joy in singing the club song, whenever he wants. He believes that supporting the Richmond Football Club has taught him many life lessons.


  1. Poignant piece Bruz. Living in the moment is ideal, but staying in the moment isn’t so easy.

    Some people are not meant to get old. If we knew for certain that the deceased are in a good place we may even celebrate death. Not knowing for sure, even though you may have faith, makes a massive difference to the way we perceive death. Thought provoking stuff. Keep them coming.

  2. interesting piece.
    footy haiku is all about chasing these moments.
    and at times you do find them in the unlikeliest of places.

  3. Good one Bruz, it’s quite nice inspiring someone to write their own piece after they’ve read something you’ve put together, especially when it’s something as thought provoking as this.

    I think the thing about death is that above all it delivers a healthy dose of perspective to the living, and in that way even something as negative as death can be a positive thing. John McCarthy’s death certainly put my relatively trivial football related ‘woes’ in perspective at the time.

  4. Thanks for the kind words and insights fellas. What I love about things like this is that everyone has their own take on it and it’s awesome hearing your thoughts.
    Ben, no worries mate your piece was very thought provoking hence why I produced this. Hope you didn’t mind that I took your original piece in a completley different direction to how i think you intended it.

  5. I think the direction you took it is entirely appropriate mate!

  6. Hi Bruz

    I thought there wouldn’t be too many Will Brussens out there! I didn’t realise you’d started writing for the Almanac.

    Nice piece – in fact really beautifully and poignantly written.

    We must compare notes some time – maybe at a Richmond game next year.

    Sam Steele

  7. haha for sure yeah just started writing recently Stainless. Hows Susan, Billy and Tom going?

Leave a Comment