Round 16 – Sydney v Geelong: Infrequency

Central Goldfields. Scrubby country. Redbacks. Stony soil.


But in this pocket, white-barked gums rise tall and slim above the unforgiving clay, as if nourished by ghosts of a prosperous past.


Also ephemeral is the mobile phone signal. It is dependent on weather moods and fluctuates with the wind.


The TV reception is friendly tonight. While watching the Swans and Cats jostle for footy fortune a text baulks its way through at the end of the first quarter.


ROB: Bloody, bumbling, fumbling. Frustrating!


Whatever they applied to the SCG surface to address slippery conditions is the equivalent of spitting into the wind.


Tonight, the Cats are seemingly low on confidence, but high on effort, and handballing less, so if we hang in, cohesion could improve.


The pressure of needing to address recent loses and inconsistency bad-habits contributes to inaccuracy – desperation, like the wind, sends kicks astray.


At half time my text is: sending….


If we persevere, I’m quietly confident.


ROB: Yep. So far I think we’ve been the better team.


I tip the cat off my knee, let the dog in, go to the loo, and grab another beer.


Photos attached to an earlier text from Rob depict a mangled, upturned van that he drives for work. It had been hit by another, much larger van shooting through a stop sign. Apart from testing the tenuous threads that link life with death, Rob is ok, but banged-up and bruised. The cracked ribs have also combined with, or contributed to a throat infection. I seek an update.


ROB: Things had improved today, but pain beginning to kick in. Just warmed up the heat pack. Better ease up the barracking.


The Cats aren’t always helping. In the third quarter, the Swans have the ascendency.


ROB: Oh boy, tough to watch.


This is when lack of confidence could be a factor. Need resilience.


ROB: Just arranged to pick up an Endo script tomorrow. Will Tom kick this one?



No. But great pressure by us on Florent, along the wing, to turn the ball over.


Not long after, Hawk snaps a banana on the run.


ROB: Phew.


Then we return to tonight’s script.


ROB: What can you say? Time and again we just hand it back to them.

               Harry’s having a bad night.


Backline errors again, though, they were great up till the bye. Harry’s not a natural forward, but I’m hoping he kicks one that counts this week.


Short quarters. Can’t kick a goal. Reminds me of round 1 in 2011.


ROB: Um?


That was low scoring too, dire. Milburn kicks a sealer at the end.


Finally, we shoot straight.


The points that followed aren’t so reassuring. Harry should’ve turned onto his left boot at one stage instead of handpassing. Decision making.


ROB: Yeah, but if you can’t kick a goal to save yourself what’s the point?


Hopefully the point will be a goal. The inaccuracy silver lining is that it keeps us focused on a job still to be done.


Hawk is disrespected by the umps again. Then a passage of play looks promising. Here we go!


The wind ebbs. “You missed a call from 0429 779 xxx who did not leave a message. This message was provided by Telstra at no charge to you.”


This time, Taylor turns onto his left boot.


ROB: Harrryyy!!!?




“Go Cats,” I yell to the dog. She flags approval with a wag of tail.


Kelly bends a beauty that I miss between texts and talking to another mate, who fluked a connection and wants to shoot the breeze.


A last-gasp goal by the Swans irks, though I picked us to win by 13 points, so is lined by some silver. The win is gold.


But, it won’t amount to a hill of Sherrins unless we play with this urgency consistently. The next test is to combine intensity with composure in front of goal.


I tip the cat off my lap, let the dog out, go to the loo, grab a beer and watch post-mortems.


Rob also lucks a call through and we chat about the game for a bit till his croaky voice gives up the ghost and the wind shifts, disturbing eucalypts and signals past and present.


About Paul Spinks

I have writing published and performed in various mediums, but usually not enough of it to pay the rent. Had many jobs, travelled a lot, so I think this experience allows a broad perception of society. I'm not an academic, though did complete a BA as a mature-age student. Below are links to some published written pieces.

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