Takeaways from this footy season



Great Ocean Photography.


Most grounds have a sweetly silent spot, where you piss beside the sheds and all you can hear is the hollow brush of wind through Cyprus trees.


Finished the year on 687 games. Two, three, per game morning? The odd training run, practice matches… That’s a lot of nervous poos.


Once you have a family, the friendships built around footy suffer. I’m sorry, they do. You find yourself thinking; “I wish him and I had times to be friends.” But you have a family man, a family!


Where as once you had all the time in the world, now you learn to make one beer feel timeless.


Doing extra after training is still the best thing about training. Why don’t more see that?


I’m playing next year, and the year after, if the body holds up. I just can’t see why I wouldn’t. The pain footy gives pales in comparison to work; harvesting in summer, plantations in winter. Pain doesn’t matter. I’m still my body’s master.


Footy is a collection of lived stories.


It becomes important to be able to see the stories while you’re living them.


Russell Robertson told me at least once every game he played at the G he’s stop and look around. Just take it in. Right there, in battle. He knew things.


They say “you’re a long time out of the game”, but next year I’ll be 56, so, not necessarily.


The new generation are more rounded, into music, doing things, going places, the sort of person I tried to be when I was their age, but didn’t quite know how.


Footy is a window on Australia. I wish I had a twenty TV monitors, which were simply twenty different windows to twenty different clubrooms.


Sydney clubrooms, Outback clubrooms, Tassie clubrooms, junior clubrooms, a woman’s team clubrooms, an ethnic team’s clubrooms.


I’d want to be careful with that one, though. If you have a dodgy mind, it could sound dodgy.


The clubroom for the Bats, in the Pub League, is the pub they represent. The Merri Creek Tavern. A window to that would be true and fine.


The club that succeeds will put their junior team first, seniors second and ressies second, too.


Ed Langdon is my favourite AFL player. Stewie Sutherland is my favourite person.


This year I got a BOG in the mud and rain. “How were those marks sticking?” people asked. Sometimes they stick. And the ground was so soft I didn’t have to worry about landing.


If it’s a rare sunny day in winter, go outside the clubrooms after the game, see everybody, the footballers, netballers, partners kids, supporters, relaxed, sitting on the railing, talking. Take a moment to view them with the long rays of the setting sun in the background. They will look like a photo from decades gone. If not a century.


You, are a photo of decades gone. If not a century.


We all are.


Acknowledge the beauty, and luck, of this moment.


Kick the footy with your kid, kick the footy with your kid, kick the footy with your kid. Give them the option of football.


It used to be punk, now it’s Towns Van Zeilt. He winds me down the ranges, towards the oval, relaxed, knowing that time is fleeting.


If you still have the same music to fire up before a game, have you evolved as a person?


The same goes at parties.


Any playlist that is just a classic hits selection from another decade is a group of people who have given up on their now and hate their tomorrow. Get out of there, find another party.


Any kid under five with a jumper just like their parent’s, with their parent’s number on it, is Best On Ground, and deserves an ice cream. Even if it’s usually because of their mum they’re wearing it.


The mum deserves a BoG too, obviously.


The best speech I gave to the Under 18s this year was about friendship. Footy had nothing and everything to do with it.


Do not let anyone call the footy you’re involved with AFL. Ever.


And always call a toilet a toilet, not a bathroom.


Both got to honesty. Honesty is the best skill a footballer possesses.


Every game, every training run, every footy person you see at the shop, or give a casual wave to passing on backroads… you walk with giants. Your local footy, city or bush, is better than the AFL will ever be.


It shapes the mood of the land around you.


You’re an active part of it. Alive.


Alive and kicking.


Next season, game 700. Injuries permitting.


Old Dog x




  1. Yep

  2. A cracker.
    Thanks, Old Dog.

  3. Malby Dangles says

    Onya Matty

  4. Great work Matt, hope you get to 700 next year

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Magnificent. Kick the footy with your kid. Love it. I do it.

    700 and beyond. Keep going. Age is just a number. Love your passion.

  6. Nice one, Luke! That’s all!!

  7. Sorry, big day, THANKS all!! haha, Whoops!

  8. fantastic

Leave a Comment