Off Season Odyssey – Part 10: Pre-season is Serious Business


“Come have a kick!” I say to Louie.

We were teammates at Otway for three years. I have no idea how, yet here he is, on the coast, working in Kenty’s Surf Shop.

“Up yours, Zurbo! It’s summer. You haven’t changed.”


“Ah, go surfing,” Kenty tells me.

“I’m meant to be doing pre-season,’ I tell him.


The swell’s up, so we hit the relative shelter of Mother’s via the bottle-o and pizza shop. The sun is waning as I paddle out, while the other two scoff down their grub. They must be starving.

Louie still has half a pizza in his hand when he throws the footy to me as I’m cutting back along the breakwater. I take a speckie, the sort where you don’t even get your feet off the ground. My specialty. But fall off the board anyway.

It bangs on without me, straight for a couple of kids on boogie boards, before the leg rope pulls it two inches short. We all sorta wince and laugh and I paddle out again.

The sandbank is high. Louie wades out to it without letting go of his next slice of pizza.

I pass on a wave, he lobs the pill up, and I manage to get two steps in and a mongrel punt. The ball just misses a woman surfing in a helmet, who smiles and is gone on the next wave, into the bay proper.

We laugh. I have another crack. Do a few footy card poses. They’re always funny. While on an oval, while surfing, in bed with someone.

Good for a giggle.

“Barry Cable!” I say, bending to scoop the ball up, only to lose my balance.

“Cable? Put a sock in it, Old Dog!” says Louie. “Dinosaur.”

I don’t know why, but for me, every footy card is Barry Cable.


People are onto it. Surfers, boogie, boarders, wave kayakers, all sorts dodge me on my way through, or help relay the ball back, grinning. I get in a few more marks, a couple of mongrel kicks. The crowd on the jetty are laughing. I don’t know why? Pre-season training is serious business.

Back in Tassie the boys will be slogging it out in the heat of our landlocked town. I’m missing it. Sharing the flies and sweat and heat, feeling like we’re achieving something. The mateship. The working.

The older I get, the more I enjoy pre-season. January and February are when footballers are made. The real ones. It’s when games are won at the end of the season.


“Go for a torrie!” says Louie.

I try, kick the wave, and land square on my face on the head of the longboard, which then carries me all the way to shore, nursing my nose and ego.

In the background I can make out the jetty crew pissing themselves.

“A hard session,” I wince to Louie.




  1. Malby Danlges says

    A classic photo!

  2. Good times!

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