So often the important stuff disappears too quickly

Just back from a family driving holiday in Tassie. It’s a beautiful place. It’s where you might consider living if you want to get away from the incessant footy coverage that is life in Melbourne. I felt I was re-thinking.



The footy media cycle plays with your mind. So, walking around Dove Lake at Cradle Mountain, or battling our way up The Nut at Stanley, or standing in the spray of Russell Falls, or watching kids take in the wonders of Nature (especially the rock tessellations at Eaglehawk Nest) I let that cycle go.



I started thinking about what was happening in the footy world a few weeks ago. And how quickly the caravan moves. The disappointing thing, for me, is that all is so transient that important matters have their place in the sun ever so briefly, and are replaced with less important moments which are made to seem of enormous significance. In Eddie McGuire’s comments about Caroline Wilson, in the Jack family saga (surely a matter for them?), in the whatever-is-the-next-earnestly-discussed subject, one really important moment was over and forgotten.



Eddie and Caro and the stir-mongers who made hay from it, took over from, and detracted from, the story of genuine substance, the situation from which we could most learn, the scenario which would elevate us the most.



At the time I sat down and wrote this. It may be a little heavy for a Friday afternoon, but if you get past the first few paragraphs it may hold your attention…

 

The sad reality of human existence is that we are mortal. All of us. And mortality is too much for us to contemplate. So often we don’t. Why would we?

 

And then a situation comes along which grabs us and shakes us and gives us focus; demands we acknowledge the one thing we share, the inevitable decline to the grave.

 

That situation invites us to re-calibrate our lives. It demands we bring to the front of our minds the lesson of our mortality: that life is a gift, that we celebrate every moment, and in that celebration we reach out to others and acknowledge that we share their predicament.
Sometimes that re-calibration happens privately.

 

When I was teaching I watched two of my colleagues fight Motor Neurone Disease. One was our chaplain Pastor Eric Simpfendorfer, a cheery South Australian, whose wise counsel was respected by all. He had the capacity to convey the sense of hope on which we all depend.

 

The other was John Bellamy or ‘JJB’ as he was known around the school. He looked like Robin Williams and was a favourite of the students. He’d grown up in Sydney and taught all over New South Wales including Punchbowl High where, during his time coaching cricket, the school’s opening attack was made up of two young louts: Jeff Thomson and Lenny Pascoe. (That would sort you out). Made him look like a handy coach. JJB loved sport, loved talking sport, barracked for the Canberra Raiders, and was a good judge – and an outstanding teacher.

 

No-one had really heard of MND back then. But after Eric died we had an idea of what JJB was facing. JJB was inspirational. He continued to teach, cruising around on his motorised go-for, even after his speech had become slurred. Knowing there was a high chance his time was limited, a handful of teachers would gather on a Monday afternoon and drink a couple of bottles of red, and talk. The group became known as The Ramarians. It’s an odd name but that was what came out of JJB’s mouth as he was explaining this huddle of the like-minded to someone at school one day.

 

Those afternoons during the late 1990s were really important for all of us. Sitting on a veranda in St Lucia in Brisbane with some wonderful people – often Mike Selleck, a Melburnian who’d grown up following “South” as he still called Sydney at the Lake Oval; Bruce Brazier, a Queenslander who’d finished his own schooling at All Souls in Charters Towers and gone on to teach music in unis and schools; and Neal Nuske, a farm boy from the Darling Downs. Neal was also inspirational himself. A brilliant writer and speaker, and a man of tremendous insight, he’d lost a leg to cancer when he was twelve. This had never stopped him from being a high jumper and a tennis player. He still battles around on forearm crutches these days.

 

A lot of The Ramarians’ conversation was about sport. JJB was a Blue in the days when New South Wales were strong, but he was engaged by anything bat and ball. Mike was waiting for the combined spirit of Bob Pratt and Laurie Nash to descend on his Swans. Would they ever win the flag? And what of the Lions? What hope had Leigh Matthews brought to Brisbane? And my Cats – were we called to a life of losing grand finals?

 

We also raced a horse together called Courting Pleasure. Horse racing is about triumph and tragedy. It provides a special type of joy because the joy is shared. I wrote a book about our great mare (called Memoirs of a Mug Punter) and the reprobates who raced her. She won five times; her last victory was at Mildura on the day that Lady Di was killed in that car accident. Memoirs is a book about chance. More importantly, it’s a book about hope.

 

When the book was published I was invited onto 4BC in Brisbane to talk about it. It was Spring Carnival time. At the end of the interview I was asked for a tip and I suggested Umrum was a certainty in the Toorak Handicap. J.A. Cassidy led on him and he was never headed.

 

So 4BC got me to tip again the following week. By some fluke, I tipped Diatribe to win the Caulfield Cup! Then Sunline to win the Cox Plate. So suddenly I had a spot. Brad Tamer from the Queensland TAB (now UBet) gave co-panelist Rick Mitchell (the silver medalist in the 400m at the Moscow Olympics) and me $100 a week to bet with. We actually made some decent cash. It all went to MND research. That was about the year 2001.

 

I have only met Neale Daniher – fleetingly – once. But I feel I know him. I feel I know him because I’ve watched him over the years and he has always seemed absolutely genuine. I also feel I know his type: he is an interesting and interested man. I also feel I know him because he is a Daniher and I have come to the conclusion that the world would be a better place if there were (even) more Danihers than there are.

 

Living in Queensland during the 1970s and 80s, I had a newspaper understanding of football. Yet that was enough for me to feel I knew the legendary Terry Daniher. So when I was standing in the Essendon rooms at the Gabba after a game one night, I was not surprised when Terry Daniher said hello. He was just as I had imagined him to be. I was totally anonymous, another footy fan in the rooms, yet he could not help but say ‘G’day’. He had the sort of natural human warmth that meant he could not stand next to a fellow human being without acknowledging them. We chatted for a while.

 

Then he turned to the ten year old kid who’d wandered up trying to find a way to get James Hird’s autograph.

 

“Playin’ footy, young fella?” TD asked.

 

“Yes,” the boy nodded.

 

“Who for?”

 

“Chapel Hill.”

 

“Gettin’ a kick?”

 

Terry Daniher genuinely wanted to know.

 

I have spent a lot more time with Anthony and Joanne Daniher. They bring a couple of branches of the Daniher-Morwood family tree to the Footy Almanac Grand Final lunch each year and, at those occasions, they have no problems getting the trip, as they say in racing. They are still firing on all cylinders well after the sun’s gone down.

 

Well, I reckon Neale Daniher has whatever that sparkle is. You can see it in his capacity to give.

 

If there was ever a sport which embodied hope it is Australian football. Footy is mysterious. Form is so elusive, so hard to explain. It is about finding a way of exerting a level of control on the chaos. The ball can bounce in any direction – chance plays its part. But if a club, a collection of people, can unite in the common cause, and can put away petty differences and personal ambition, and can do the best it possibly can, then who knows what can happen.

 

It is that sense of hope and action that Neale Daniher reflects whenever he speaks about his work in raising money for MND research.

 

When that squad of footy people went down the slide into the ice-pool in the wintery sunshine at the MCG that Queen’s Birthday Monday, every person watching was alerted to a truth: that in the predicament which unites us, we can form genuine communities where we reach out in human empathy for each other.

 

Neale Daniher has taken us and dropped us all in the ice bath. He is a great man.

 

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au He has written many columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted j.t.h@footyalmanac.com.au He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo10, Anna8, Evie7. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.

Comments

  1. Simon Killen says:

    That’s a dead-set beaut JH.

    Thanks for sharing the re-calibration.

    And nice to see some Danihers woven into the fabric. As what might be described as an inner-city latte sipper of sorts, I’ve always had a real fascination for the Danihers – the smiles, the drawls, the patience they seem to have about them (generalising yes, it’s Neale and TD that I know best from the years of TV watching). You feel a bit better for having shared their thoughts. Smart, compassionate people. Don’t need a t-shirt or bumper sticker to advertise the fact.

    And we did Tassie in the car with the kids earlier this year too – so much to recommend it.

    Cheers,

  2. Adam Muyt says:

    Beaut story John. Am struggling with losing a really good mate who’s recently been diagnosed with MN. And if I’m struggling…well, he’s doing his best to be brave. It’s truly a fucker of a disease.
    He’s a Tassie writer and here’s a link to his story.
    http://www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania/tasweekend-photographer-mark-clemens-seeks-online-help-to-bring-his-mt-field-vision-to-life/news-story/a36e67cc574a9b35a7e5d673abdbc74b

  3. JTH

    Could you stop setting the bar this high for us mug writers?

    Lovely stuff on a Friday

    Cheers

    sean

  4. Cheers John, for not letting this pass us by too easily. As a Bomber kid growing up in the ’80s, there was nothing like the #5 & #6 Daniher brothers (the first 2!). They brought that spirit to the game, alright. And inspired confidence. Still do, clearly. When I was o/s learning from ‘poor’ Guatemalan communities about life, I met a Canadian African with a big heart who could speak 7 languages. He used to give all his money, time and understanding to trying to improve the lot of others. For MND to strip him of his speech so very quickly did seem unduly cruel. But as you say, John, we’re all faced with our demise, in various ways, at various times. Here’s to the people who make it count.

  5. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Quality Quality Quality article JTH thank you and spot on Sean

  6. Peter_B says:

    Amen to all that John. To live, to learn, to love and to leave a legacy. What else is there? That’s worthwhile.
    The Americans call MND Lou Gehrig’s Disease after the iron man Yankees first baseman who played 2,130 consecutive games without injury or omission in the 1930’s. A record until Cal Ripken Jnr of the Orioles broke it in the 90’s. Gehrig was lead off hitter in the famous Yankees Murderers Row lineup, but his consistency was overshadowed by Babe Ruth’s slugging.
    I remember back when I was a kid watching Gary Cooper play Gehrig in the B&W movie Pride of the Yankees. The idea that a worthy, tough and blameless man could just gradually disappear made no sense to me. Still doesn’t. But life is about chances as you say. The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike.
    When I see Neale raising money for MND research, the logical part of me says what chance is there that Australian research could unlock a cure given the vast resources of the US and European pharmaceutical and medical research corporations?
    But we are all just doing our bit and it all contributes to the larger knowledge. I suspect that for a person in Neale’s situation the important thing is the striving. Finding meaning in chaos.
    Below is a link to a video of Gehrig’s tear jerking farewell speech at Yankee Stadium in 1939.
    https://youtu.be/nNLKPaThYkE

  7. bob.speechley says:

    Mr Neale Daniher – (MND)

    A great tribute to a champion of our time.

    We’ll said JTH.

  8. Dave Brown says:

    Lovely stuff, JTH. I think Caro on the Outer Sanctum Podcast acknowledged that the fact that the saga distracted from Neale’s great work was as disappointing as anything else. My grandfather died from MND in 1994 – had never heard of it before he was diagnosed. A keen North Adelaide fan and then the Crows for their few years of intersection and heavily involved in the management of footy clubs in Whyalla and Christies Beach over the journey. As a teenager was at Adelaide Oval on that day in the Bodyline Series. As it seems to, it took him very quickly. I have his leather chair in my shed. Need to hurry up and restore it to its former role as a good place to sit with a beer and watch the footy/cricket.

  9. You’ve done it again Harmsy – I seem to be suddenly tired and emotional. This is just beautiful stuff. I’m with Sean. Stahp it, as the kids would say.

  10. Adelaide Dupont says:

    Australian research has unlocked cures before – like in blindness; polio and various fields of genetics and neuroscience.

    It does all contribute.

    Thank you for the Gehrig speech Peter_B.

    So so easy to be angry at the detractors and make tracts.

    Wouldn’t it be great to have a Caroline Wilson scholarship for a print/TV/radio journalist? That is what I thought the week after the Queens’ Birthday.

    Papa and I watched the Pimpinio Tigers 2005 and 2006 Grand Final premiership video made by Leah Dunesmy which you can find on YouTube. The key figures at the club were sharing memories of coaches and support staff who had died.

    This 30 June the Tigers had one of their life members die.

  11. Well, well,well. A sermon. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Lovely.
    Peter B, when I was a kid we had a record of famous moments on which Lou Gehrig said farewell to Yankee Stadium. Didn’t know who he was, but listened to it again and again. (Also the Hindenburg disaster, “Oh, the humanity…”)
    A few years ago at a Neil Young concert I had the good luck to stand next to Terry Daniher at a urinal (he probably won’t remember) It seemed somehow right. A sweet synergy of flannel shirts. Cortez the Killer went for 15 minutes. Luckily it didn’t coincide with our urination or we’d have missed most of it.
    Go cats.

  12. Thanks JTH – the unedifying debacle arising from Neale’s MND fundraiser was a low point for football and the media vultures that feasted on it ad nausea.

    If there’s one disease that scares me more than anything it’s MND. You wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy and the way Neale has handled himself is extraordinary.

  13. Andrew Wills says:

    Was thinking about writing an article on another subject but you mr harms have just made me realise I should leave stuff alone .
    Great piece of writing done by an expert well done.

  14. A great piece John. Puts all the crap about Caro and Eddie into perspective. I just love Neale Daniher for what he is doing and the way he is going about it. Down our way (Bayside Melbourne), over summer a kid sadly dived into the Bay and instantaneously became a quadriplegic. He was a very talented footballer. His family, who are well to do and well connected, immediately set about fundraising to renovate their house and to provide funds for the on-going life-long care this poor lad will need. But, there was (and still is) no mention of education, research, assisting less well off kids who have suffered the same fate. So, I decided not to contribute personally to their well-organised fund raising events. I am involved in a junior footy club in the league where this kid played, and I got some funny looks when I said we shouldn’t contribute any funds to this cause, because there was no “community” aspect to it. I guess I have a bit of a socialist in me! And then came Neale Daniher, who totally blew me away. What a man. Not concerned about himself, but spending his limited time concerned about others. We can all learn from him on how to be selfless. Needless to say, my family is a strong supporter of his drive to cure MND. Hopefully, “the rage” will be maintained following his inevitable departure from this world.

  15. Here’s the Lou Gehrig speech, in front of 61000 at Yankee Stadium. “He was an ironman. He was a Gibraltar in cleats.” Jim Murray.

    “Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

    “Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I’m lucky.

    “When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift – that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies – that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter – that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body – it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed – that’s the finest I know.

    “So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.”

    – Lou Gehrig

  16. Honegger says:

    Very moving article and it gives a lot to think about… MND is a terrible bunch of similar diseases and the sufferers are all true saints…i have seen some of them cry because they could see the effect it had on others, but somehow they all coped… Thank you… Claire Honegger

  17. Tony Brain says:

    Not a heavy end if Friday read at all John. Real, heartfelt and uplifting. Thanks

  18. Beautiful stuff. I connect with the Cradle image and was on Umrum that day. Diatribe’s fast track.

    And then the heart wrench of MND.

    Great bit of writing. Inside you beats the heart of a very good man.

  19. E.regnans says:

    Thanks very much JTH. Wonderful.

    The everyday noise of life at times obscures, regrettably, this clarity from my view.
    So clear.
    So basic.
    So important.

    Thanks.

  20. Phillip Dimitriadis says:

    JTH,
    Your timely and prescient piece reminds me of the unseemly way Neale Daniher’s story got side-tracked by the honest concerns of a few and the pettiness of many re Caro/Eddie saga. Neale’s demeanor over the last year has stayed with me. Crippled with MND he smiles, encourages, jokes and shows that he has not been afraid to embrace the reality of his mortality. To quote Blackadder: “He pours ice cubes down the vest of fear.”

    “But if a club, a collection of people, can unite in the common cause, and can put away petty differences and personal ambition, and can do the best it possibly can, then who knows what can happen.” The essence of the Footy Almanac right there. This community has given a voice to so many that would otherwise may not have been heard or read. We’d miss it if it wasn’t here.

    A couple of nights in Queenstown helps one put a few things into perspective, just quietly. Thank you for this.

  21. A most timely and enjoyable read for me on a Friday afternoon.
    Thanks, John.

    Neil Daniher’s name will live on forever for what he has done in regards to the raising of awareness of MND.

  22. Rocky Dabscheck says:

    John

    If only you were as good a punter as you are a writer I could hit you for a lazy 50 till next Friday. I’ll be good for it.
    I had the pleasure of sharing a ride with Neale Daniher, from his home, to a Assumption College in Kilmore. It was the year the Dee’s were very nearly mighty. A thorough gentleman, devoid of ego and infused with dollops of humility. I was in good company. He was interesting, and interested.
    Your article should be on the syllabus at every school in the country, from grade 1 through to year 12.
    We have a habit in this nation of trashing the real meaning of things when macho personalities swamp the issue.
    Caroline Wilson, in how she has handled this imbroglio, has shown her class. The others, I’ll leave it up to you to decide. Lord knows what Neale Daniher has made of it all
    Keep writing John; and keep punting as well.

  23. Luke Reynolds says:

    Superb writing. Well said JTH. Wonderful.

  24. Greg Hitch says:

    Good call. It was troubling how Eddie’s gaff hijacked our/the media’s focus from MND. Think you’re being hard on Caro, though. I recall hearing her mention that the really sad thing is how it distracted attention from Neil’s cause.

  25. Fair enough re Caro Greg.

  26. Yvette Wroby says:

    Wonderful article John. Well done

  27. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Yep, because now we can all react and have it broadcast in an instant if we so choose, the need for and power of reflection is lost.

    Thanks for the reminder John. If this was a sermon, it was worth missing the start of World of Sport for.

  28. Tom Martin says:

    Nice piece John. If a trip to Tassie doesn’t leave you pondering your place in the universe then you’re not doing it right.

    But did Eddie and Caro and the stir-mongers really detract from the story of genuine substance?

    There are apparently 2,094 people with MND in Australia. The cost to the economy in 2015 was $2.37B.

    Suffering is everywhere in life but some of it gleams with greater lustre.

    The Prime Minister of this country recently said, “Violence against women is one of the great shames of Australia. It is a national disgrace.” He believes (and I agree) that ‘violence against women begins with disrespecting women.”

    Statistics indicate that in the last twelve months it’s probably the case that over 500,000 women experienced physical or sexual violence or sexual assault. Since the age of 15, 1 in 5 women had experienced sexual violence, and 1 in 6 had experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner. Of those that experienced violence from an ex-partner, 61% had children in their care at the time. 73% had experienced more than one incident of violence. 58% didn’t report it to police. 24% didn’t seek assistance or support of any kind.

    You have poignantly brought the focus back to the very human suffering of a famous family affected by a tragic disease. Nothing wrong with that. Eddie’s unfortunate gaffe quickly became an unwelcome distraction from a worthy cause. But this was no sideshow, let’s be clear.

    I’m absolutely positive you’re not in favour of violence against women, JTH.

    And I’m confident that Eddie isn’t either.

    But the story of how ambivalent we remain about taking seriously the issue of misogyny and its connection to violence against women, is a story of genuine substance.

    “The only thing that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

  29. Janelle Harms says:

    Great story John. There’s nothing like time in the Tassie wilderness to clear the mind.

  30. Concerned Citizen says:

    Tom Martin is spot on about the preamble in this piece.

    The reverberations from Eddie’s gaff were no sideshow, they were seismic. Tectonic plates shifted in our collective understanding that joking about violence to women is most probably an underlying contributor to violence against women. Yes, to advance that understanding we had to wade through Sam and co’s excrement, but that was a small expenditure considering Australia is now a little more educated about misogyny and this issue (and well done to the eminent voices who helped elevate matters above shit stirring to something edifying.)

    It is, of course, a shame that MND only gets a fleeting moment in the spotlight before the caravan moves on as it does, but that’s the way it goes; it’s share of the pie is commensurate with it’s relevance to us as a whole.

    Anyway, apart from my issues with the preamble, this was a lovely piece and well done John for doing your bit to give it back a little bit of the spotlight Eddie stole from it.

  31. Christopher says:

    Amen. Terrific work Uncle John.

  32. The Black Prince says:

    As I lay here in my sick bed battling the ‘man-flu’ and feeling decidedly sorry for myself, I somehow feel markedly better thanks to not only the Senegal and Ammonia that my mother dropped in a couple of hours ago, but a hearty helping of perspective thanks to your article JTH. If ever one starts to get slightly ahead of one’s self, one only needs to spare a thought for Neale and the many others fighting the ‘Beast’, to see that our daily trials, are really only, well…trivial. Thank you John.

    On a lighter note, I trust you had a wonderful time in our beautiful state? If you didn’t, you’ve no one else to blame you know! Not that I’d ever have expected call, but please allow me to be slightly disappointed as you did drive straight past my door on your way to Stanley. Guess the Phontom never got a look in either so I dare not complain too much….although I would had done you and the clan a fabulous NW Tassie breakfast, I hope you haven’t forgotten that! Given last time you were here the local Thylacine population has boomed to even greater numbers, (bordering on plague proportion) I do hope you fulfilled your civic duty as a tourist driving a hire car and managed to skittle a few…they a still EVERYWHERE!!

    Finally thank you for your informed and balanced comments re the NSW greyhound fiasco on the box yesterday morning. It was welcome relief after seemingly such one sided commentary since the announcement.

    PS. Senega and Ammonia tastes like shit

  33. Thanks for the many and varied comments on my thoughts. Thanks for taking the time to respond in such detail and depth.

    Firstly, my sympathies to all those who are suffering from MND and have watched as loved ones have endured such suffering.

    Secondly, the Eddie and Caro thing was said clumsily. No problems admitting that. I should have chosen my words much better to create a more accurate account of what I was thinking and to make my point. If you were in Melbourne the discussion of Eddie’s bad joke and what it meant and what it reflected became the subject of a commentary which was not just about the issue of violence and violence against women. The point I should have made is that once media have a winner they pour petrol on it in a way which will keep it burning. It becomes the big topic; it dominates radio, TV, print, and conversation, but often in a way which makes something else the key issue. The raison d’etre is different. The important issue of violence and disrespect was clouded by other elements of the discussion. It’s part of a broader celebrity approach from media outlets – to attract eyeball, any eyeballs.

    Thanks AJC for the Lou Gehrig speech. What a classic. Re the sermon, I was immediately chuckling to myself as it reminded me of William Hurt’s character in The Big Chill who as a late-night talkback pop psychologist quit when he realised people were acting on his advice. Might be time to hang up the vestments I suspect. It’s a problem of being a sort of Bob Cunis of sportswriting. Maybe better labouring to get a laugh here or there by writing about plonkers on the Geelong terrace and their occasionally brilliant footy team.

    Black Prince, you were mentioned in the car but the kids were needing to get to Stanley and run around and the weather was good and we just sprinted to Cradle Mpuntain. We missed the thylacines. It wasn’t until we got stuck into the red in Hobart that we noticed them in Battery Point and Sandy Bay.

    Tassie is a beaut place. Would like to find a river and sit by it. If I can find a few minutes I’ll write the story of our trip. My highlight – one of many – came from the kids. 8,6,5 years old. We have been having fun looking at youtube clips of weird sports. The kids have enjoyed wife carrying, mud swimming, and cheese-rolling in particular. As we were driving through the rolling hills and steep escarpments of the north-west Theo (8) piped up, “Great cheese-rolling country Dad”. What a champion.

    Finally, I saw some of Essendon in the last quarter yesterday. What a footballer J. Daniher is. The natural movement of a footballer – evading, leaping. He was Coleman-like a couple of times (and I never saw Coleman, but I’m willing to bet that’s how Coleman flew). When I watch Joe I think of his parents and his uncles. It is that connectedness which is essential to healthy living for me. Football can be good at facilitating it. As can many other things.

  34. Keiran Croker says:

    Thanks John. I just got around to reading your piece and associated comments. One of my former general managers has gone down very rapidly with an aggressive form of Parkinson’s. Same age as me, late 50’s, so certainly makes you face mortality and fate.

    I guess you just get on with what’s important to you and try and do some good along the way. On the weekend I was rattling cans in our local area to collect for Disability Sports and Recreation. Funds will assist sending kids on a winter camp to the snow. I feel uncomfortable asking others for money, though when I ponder my rather fortunate life it’s a small inconvenience to my psyche and ego.

    Regular trips to Tassie are essential for recalibration!

  35. Earl O'Neill says:

    Lovely piece John. I want to get two weeks of riding around Tas w Perky Girl one summer.
    Family legend has it that Neale’s grandad was responsible for my grandad’s nose looking like a potato.
    It was lost in the controversy but Ed did his bath with sponsors’ stickers all over his suit. Cheap look.

  36. Thanks John. There are days and weeks – and maybe it is the time of year when you get up in the dark and come home in the dark – that life can be warped and hijacked by meaningless things.

    An article like this – one about real people – for some reason people like Neale Daniher who I have never met – brings us back into focus, resets those core values and reminds us that there is a big picture. Maybe because I grew up in country victoria – a few hours from the riverina – I sort of feel I know Neale – at least I understand the fabric of these communities and the people that are raised in them. I sometimes feel sad for city folk ( sounds like Clancy of the Overflow coming… ) – although I am one now.

    Maybe it comes a bit more with age. You start losing family, you see people you love take on challenges like Parkinson’s, MnD, and cancers.

    Yes a trip to Tassie might be in order – although perhaps your article has hit a chord at the right time and confirmed a decision to hit the Camino de Santiago. Might be – and is – just be a time for a Pilgrimage to mull over the thoughts and words you and so many others have placed here in response. Cheers and thanks for a great article.

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