Round 13 – Essendon v Carlton: Snowy’s day out

 

 

 

Too many stairways to Bomber Heaven
(or how we got Snowy to the Guard of Honour – just)

 

By ANDREW ‘DOUGIE’ FRASER

 

 

For this year’s footy trip, our crew of old teammates took all the usual precautions (have we all got our medicines?) with special care for our most senior member, Snowy, whose mobility issues persist (six damaged discs).

 

But abundant caution, and extra time, would be even more important this year because Sharkie’s son, Nat, who works for Essendon, had wrangled our way into the Bombers’ guard of honour as they ran out against the mighty Blues at the MCG.

 

For Bomber fans Snowy, who grew up in the Carlton flats but always followed the Dons, and our captain-coach, Chopper, this was truly going to be special.

 

So, take it easy in the morning. Rest up. Be ready for the 1pm maxi-taxi.

 

Off to Windy Hill for the Magoos we went. A grand game of fluctuating fortunes, a chance to hear the coaches in the huddles and a fun afternoon out.

 

But Snow is already showing signs of wear. Rather than walk back to the corner where the cab dropped us, Snow, walking stick and I camp where we are and get the cab to come to us.

 

You’ll be right, mate, we all assure our first septuagenarian (we now have three). Have a spell in the cab. It’s all sorted at the ground. And we’ve got heaps of time.

 

Alight at Jolimont and make it over the bridge to the magic golf buggy. They are A Good Thing. Re-meet Snow at Gate 4 and plonk him on a concrete plinth while we wait for them to open up.

 

In through the mobility access and, then, our first dilemma. Take him up to our seats on Level 4 or hang down here because we’re meeting our Essendon steward in 45 minutes just inside Gate 3?

 

We wisely go for the latter and camp Snow on one of the seats for the mobility-impaired.

 

6.30. Time to move. Like the fearless rover he was, Snow and stick run against the traffic with what felt like all the rest of the 88,510 coming the other way at us as we get to the lifts to take us to the bowels of the MCG.

 

Another spell on a stair and the kindly Essendon operative is giving us the drill. “Just down in these lifts here, and go left.”

 

Sounded simple enough – but soon the couple of dozen others in the guard of honour had taken off, as Michael Williamson might say, like startled gazelles and Snow and the rest of us were looking for solutions, with the clock ticking ever louder.

 

First, Chopper and I stuck him on our shoulders as though he’d just won the flag, but after 100m or so, heart stents and replaced knees said “no” and we landed him again.

 

Dawso, our young bull at 50-something, tries a piggy-back, completely forgetting that he has a torn groin and couldn’t swing a golf club the day before. (After the guard of honour, Dawso will actually piggy-back Snow up three flights of those cantilever ramps to get him to his seat!)

 

Did I mention that Snow gets dizzy as well?

 

Now, with the countdown to ball-up seriously accelerating, Snowy’s needing a spell every 50m or so, but we’ve got, as Sharkie, ever the midfielder scoping the next option, puts it, “about another f%$#*!! kilometre to go”.

 

Captain-coach to the rescue. Chopper shoots ahead and finds what we think might have been a luggage rack.

 

With me weighing the thing down at one end, Chop and Dawso lift Snowy on to it and tell him to hang on.

 

We’re off! Screaming past workers and suited types various, including one B. Fevola.

 

“Gooday Champion,” hollers me, one of three Bluebaggers hiding our kit while we stand with Snow at the guard of honour, if we get there that is.

 

The sharp-shooter, and sometime prankster himself, seems utterly bewildered by the sight before him. What is this, some turbo-charged illegal entry for the Big Freeze, or an episode of Geriatric Jackass?

 

We press on.

 

The lights have already gone down around the stands as we look up the race.

 

One final heave virtually ejects Snowy from his uncomfortable conveyance, which we simply leave tilted at the top of the race.

 

No sooner do we hobble to the line-up than our little mate’s heroes are walking before him, touching his hand as he wishes them all the best for the big match.

 

Priceless, but, I guess, on reflection, just another example of what our great team game is all about.

 

 

 The means: Snowy, pushed by Dougie, guided (as ever) by Chopper.

 

 

 

 

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