Round 22 – Essendon v Richmond: Paul’s Farewell

Round 22 – Essendon v Richmond

“Paul’s Farewell”

Through my hospital window, nine stories high, I can see the glow of the MCG. It lumes on the night city-scape like a mighty birthday cake, six big candles burning bright, in spite of wind and rain. I wish I could be there. The Bombers are playing, and for them my brother Paul is running out for the very last time.

I’m watching him do so on the screen that dangles above my bed. Paul is holding his little boy Miles, standing before the banner that bids him ‘bye, congratulates him on the 280 games that have earned him a wealth of achievement, respect and satisfaction. Commentary crackles through the remote control in my hand. “Tonight, it’s all about Chappy,” says Luke Darcy, Channel 7’s head of hyperbole. I don’t know how Richmond fans would feel about that, given what the season still offers them; but for me tonight, as it always has been watching Essendon, and Geelong before that, it is indeed, all about Paul.

Nurse Simon is wrapping my arm in a cuff, clamping my finger and bunging a small stick under my tongue. He jots stuff into my file, and as if adding further important medical detail, asks “So who’s going to win, do ya think?” I tell him I’m not that fussed about the result, but it is probably for the best he’s got my blood pressure before the bounce. I’m usually a bit edge-of-chair (bed?) when watching Paul.

Dad was in for a visit yesterday. He says Paul is feeling good about the send off game, happy to make it this week rather try stretch out to the last round. I’m happy for him too, thinking he might feel a bit more special this way. Every game has blokes being chaired off in Round 23. Next week he might have been sharing the chair with Fletcher.

The reception on the ward TV looks grainy, but it’s just the tumbling rain. Conditions might suit Paul, might suit Essendon. Soon enough, there he is, booting it forward where young Irish McKenna is in slippery space and goals with his opening stat – from last-gamer to first-gamer, the Bombers open accounts. And they look to hold their own against these top-four aspirationals. The Tigers seem to not read the weather and are flying early for hangers, while Essendon is in and under. At the first break, they lead by two points and ten contested possessions.

Ty Vickery would be one not impressed that it’s “all about Chappy”, this being his 100th outing in yellow and black. He bobs up with a quick two in the second to get Richmond rolling. Paul’s not getting much of it, but by the long break, courtesy of some Heppel and Stanton grunt, and Richmond’s inaccuracy, Bombers are still in it.

The rain stops after half-time, which sees the telly picture clear and the Tiges take control. Simon wanders in with some pain-killers, checks to see if my bottle needs emptying. He’s too busy to pull up a chair. So would I be, were it not for my brother out there. The game’s a mess and the Bombers, while not disgraced, are being edged out of the contest.

The inevitable looms large in the somewhat empty stadium air. To fill it, the commentary turns at every chance to Paul’s career stats and his imminent retirement. Cameron Ling is waxing sentimental about his playing days with Paul, and I reflect myself on being there at the G when the two of them shared their debut. In the rooms after, parents beamed shyly as their boys belted out the team tune having done the Pies by three points. And right on cue, the cameras are now right on Dad and Paula (Paul’s mum), dripping with pride just like they did 15 years back. And have done now 280 times.

The siren sounds an end to our family connection to the footy big-time. The Tigers are modest in victory and generous in salute as they line up with the Essendon players and staff who cheer Paul being hoisted from the ground. Dad is on screen again, fiddling with a phone to capture the moment, while Simon is at my bed-side fiddling with bandage and adjusting tubes. It would seem 280 will have to do it, as far as our family game aggregate goes. There’ll be no contribution from me now. Has anyone played an AFL game after a hip replacement?

 

JT Harms’ story “Chappy: He’s so reliable”

Further Footy Almanac stories of Round 22, Essendon v Richmond

Footy Almanac stories of all Round 22 games

Footy Almanac home

Comments

  1. Love it, Terry.
    Terrific sharing your connection.

    What’s your age difference?
    Did you teach him everything he knows?
    Happy rehab to you.

  2. John Butler says:

    A genuine first for the Almanac there Terry. And an interesting predicament for yourself.

    Paul deserved all the plaudits that came his way. A shame he couldn’t finish at the Cats, but you’re a long time retired.

    Hope all goes well in your recovery.

    Cheers

  3. Great read thanks, Terry. Yeah, I don’t reckon the AFL is ready for bionically enhanced players – all the best with your recovery.

  4. Good stuff Terry. Chappy was a beauty. He just looked all wrong in the Bomber’s sash, but good luck to him. Cats fans will forever remember the 2009 Grand Final:

    Ablett kicks long to the square, Mooney flies, Rooke causes a spoil, Varcoe quick hands to Chappy. CHAPPY!!!!!!!

  5. Thanks for your personal perspective, Terry.
    Hope the recovery goes well.

  6. great story and a great career. yiou’re very lucky, I am only John Warrington’s brother.

  7. Really enjoyed your story. All the very best with your recovery.

  8. Terry Chapman says:

    Thanks for the kind wishes, guys. Am now doing recovery in Ballarat (as you do).
    For the record – I am Dad’s first-born, Paul his last, a 20 year reproductive career by the old man. And I’d like to credit me with teaching Paul “all he knows”, but apparently he has a book coming out. And I’m sure being John Warrington’s brother would be a worthwhile claim to fame. Can one Google him?

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