Ramblings from the Oche – Part II

I flung a few arrows the other night. Not many went straight. It was hardly surprising. The last time I did so was a year ago. That night we sipped beers, talked shite and peppered the wall behind the board. When Priddis surprised us we labelled him the worst winner since Shane Woewodin and foolishly called the umpires clowns.

This year we sipped beers, talked shite and peppered the wall behind the board. Despite some doubters we mostly supported Fyfe and celebrated his win because he plays footy like we all want to. Skilful and brave on the field, coherent and gentle off it. If he stays fit he may become a generational figure. The Coleman of his time.

Inside the old gaol pub, the Royal Melbourne Hotel in Bourke Street, the Tungsten’s were delivered in haphazard style. We started at 222 and looked for a double to finish. There was plenty of shot visualization, not much shot realization. The mercy rule was enacted on several occasions. Darts is a game of immense skill and discipline. Of all the sports I have played only it has provided me with that dreamy feeling of ‘the zone’. It was fleeting of course and my moment has passed with barely a whimper. Phil Taylor’s recent nine darter in Sydney showcased all that is great about the game. The gap between Phil and I is greater that the gap between Nat and I, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still fling the odd bull and celebrate like a loon.

Away from the oche it has been an odd year for me. I am fast approaching my half century and have found myself thinking a lot about the arrow of time. The world feels like it is spinning slightly faster to me now. At times everything’s a bit blurry, and too often it’s nasty and cold. I wonder about the future for my children. Our culture is changing. The ideals my father’s generation live by are hardly recognizable any more. I see a shallow plastic disposable age where people want immediate gratification. Where the booing overshadows the cheering. Where it is more important to seek fleeting fame than to help. It leaves me with a scratched soul and makes me grumpy.

To alleviate the ache I retreat to paradise. I live in the bush on the east side of Lake Tyers. By road our nearest neighbour’s house is about 6km away, the closest pub about 40. Both are much more accessible by boat, so that is our preferred mode of travel.  We use the lake for fish and prawns and collect our eggs and vegies. This year I intend to add chickens for the table. While some are aghast at our isolation it feels idyllic to me and at times my family and I spend days in joyous seclusion. Then I read a paper or watch the news and the fog begins to rise.

As long as I focus on the playing fields sport continues to be a beacon in the mist. It constantly rolls out stories that are both unexpected and joyous. The rise of Jason Day has been exhilarating, the fall of Clarke, Watson and Haddin excruciating. The Japanese choosing to chase glory against the Springboks was both ludicrous and magnificent. Even the predictable has merit. I can’t make myself like the Hawks but I have to admire them. Our female athletes continue to exude class in all of their endeavours.

Sport away from the contest seems to have fallen victim to the idiocy of the celebrity culture. I have been an avid radio listener in the past. Now I find it hard to stomach. Whilst I still watch the viewer a bit the frustration is slowly building. How social media has infiltrated things is beyond me. I am happy to listen to Carey and Matthews talk footy but I really don’t give a toss what Bob from Bannockburn thinks about the ‘holding the ball’ rule. I refuse to join in the conversation if I am only expected to use acronyms and one syllable words.

In part I have deliberately removed myself from some aspects of this world. This is the first year in memory where I have forgone a Friday ritual. No footy tipping/No supercoach. Supercoach to me is a microcosm of all that is wrong with the digital era. It starts as a simple bit of fun before getting hijacked by techno-nerds who introduce new rules and extensions that consume your time. It soon becomes a burden rather than a joy. Gambling has followed the same path, but the stakes are much higher here. The saturation of advertising and the normalising of the behaviour makes me feel very uneasy. Our role modelling for the young may need serious review.

So I now leave the big smoke and return to the bush. The tar turns to dust and the rattles start up. To the side of me the kangaroos still graze. My son turns eight today and approaches his future with energy and optimism. I find him in a Darth Vader mask. He tells me to embrace the dark side, and as father and son we can rule the galaxy together. My mood lightens.

I flung a few arrows the other night. Not many went straight.


  1. More power to your arm MIchael. On and off the oche. I agree with all of your life sentiments, and congrats on working it out 10 years younger than I did. As Wilde said “the trouble with life is that you live it forwards, and learn it backwards”.
    I was musing with friends to day about the value of small. I like small places where I am not overwhelmed, Small people who are humble and grateful are much bigger than the egomaniacs who run the world. Small pleasues are sweeter and easier to reproduce.
    The West Coast Eagles (save for Nic Nait) are much smaller than the lumbering Hawks. We will run rings around them.

  2. John Timlin says

    A wonderful article Michael.

  3. Well played, Michael.
    From this crowded city tram.

    Happy birthday to yer boy.

  4. Peter Flynn says

    Played Mick on many fronts.

    Yes a time for some introspection.

    A worthy Waddell winner.

  5. Great work Mick. Terrific read. Does 50 = Grumpy? Or does turning 50 = realisation?

    Sounds like you’ve got a great spot down there near the water.

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