The 2016 Nathan Ablett Cup – Round Three

Greetings Tipsters


Anyone heard any Freo jokes lately? By the gods, they shouldn’t be long in coming to a Twit feed near you. Yeah, so they worked on their ball skills and, allegedly, a more attacking game plan but I find the latter hard to believe coming from Ross Lyon. Even harder to believe is that he will have to start Rebuilding.


Ross doesn’t do Rebuilding. He takes over a team, flogs it to death, then moves on. Except for that blasted contract extension. “Bloody hell, what was I thinking?” How he copes with the next few seasons is a question worthy of a Delphic Oracle. I live in a suburb that has been overtly Greek for many a long decade so there may be one around here somewhere, perhaps in the house which features an enormous chandelier in a display window above the front door.


The team FKA The Funky Purps are gonna miss the finals for a couple of years. If Ross really does rebuild and get them back by 2018 it’ll be an achievement unlike any he’s managed so far. Maybe Cam McCarthy will be a part of that, but I dunno…


Freo were prepared to offer two first round draft picks for the lad. I saw several of his games last year, yes, he has talent but he was a foil for Jer Cameron. He didn’t strike me as the kind of fellow who would lead a forward line. This present imbroglio is one of the more ridiculous scenarios we’ve seen in football lately.


There’s two ways to consider it. First, he is “said to be suffering from adjustment disorder.” It has been described as a mental illness. What a crock of shit. That’s an insult to anyone who really does have a serious psychological problem.


‘Mental illness’ is bandied about far too often these days. It has become a catch-all excuse for anything that woes you. By labelling people with a disorder or a syndrome we absolve them of responsibility, worse, we condemn them to a lifetime of labouring ‘neath a stigma.


I’ve had some horribly depressive periods, some crippling panic attacks. The worst one is pretty funny in retrospect. I couldn’t move at all, was convinced I was gonna die. Then I managed to wiggle a finger or two. Okay, my heart must still be pumping blood, so I won’t die but I will have to live with my parents for the rest of my life. Hmm… That might be worse.


I was sleeping over at my girlfriend’s parents’ place this night. She gets up, says,“I’ll get mum!” I might have  been wiggling my toes by this point but couldn’t speak. I was thinking “last thing I need is your mum” and maybe the message got across. At any rate, I was spared her mum.


Holy Crap! I used the word ‘mum’ three times in a paragraph. Things like that bug me. When I’m working and something goes wrong, it can really throw me out of sync. “Moon in Virgo” my astrologer mate would say. OCD, one might joke, but that’s nothing like serious OCD. It’s a foible, a trait, an eccentricity. I don’t have a syndrome or a disorder. Sometimes I worry too much and get terribly anxious. That’s all.


Second way to consider Cam’s quandary is that maybe, for all his talent, he just doesn’t want to be an AFL player. Constant meetings, pressure to perform, ice that ankle, review your KPIs, etc, etc, etc.


“But I just wanna play footy and have fun!”


“Review your KPIs, kid.”


So, working through the issue, as they say, there were some plans for him to train with South Freo. Leave aside why this should have taken so long, the plan was forming and then he showed up for training before it was signed off. Had a run, a few kicks, Ross was there to check him out. Wayne Campbell, the latest Monaro in the office, was polite about it, mediawise, but you gotta wonder, why didn’t anyone notice last year?!


Perhaps Cam was keeping quiet, just trying to do the right thing. He’s 20 years old, f’chrissakes. Since 7 or 8, adults have been telling him he’s got the right stuff, could go all the way. He wants to do the right thing, what’s expected of him, what everyone wants him to do. Maybe deep down he doesn’t want to do that at all.


It aint too hard to imagine that a 20 year old man might want to go surfing with his mates, enjoy a few beers, play footy on the weekend, that he might not want to be subjected to the meat market, the rules, the billion dollar industry that is the AFL.


Jeff, my longest serving and best friend has a son, 16 next month, who is in the Swans Academy and very much on their radar. Cooper met Cam a couple times last year and they enjoyed talking and kicking the Sherrin. Could be that moments like that were a huge relief for Cam.


November, I wrote Jeff consequent to talking to an NRL player manager, one of my clients. I was passing on some advice, then rambled onwards:


October, 2018, Cooper’s eligible for the draft and he says “No, I love playing football but not like this” and he goes down to Myrtleford and signs on, playing centre half-forward.  He marries a local girl and they start a business there.  Plays his last game at 42, propped up in the goalsquare on dodgy knees, his two sons kicking the ball to him, two daughters running the club with their mum.  Coach, club president, well-loved pillar of the community.


Cheers, Tipsters


P&C, a Stop Privatisation Of Footy Production, a division of Trans-Dementia Inc.

Brought to you with the assistance of The Searchers.


About Earl O'Neill

Freelance gardener, I've thousands of books, thousands of records, one fast motorcycle and one gorgeous smart funny sexy woman. Life's pretty darn neat.


  1. Spot on …..what a cracka!

  2. Brilliant Earl. Agree with the increasing use of “mental illness” as an all encompassing excuse/explanation. My understanding is that “adjustment disorder” (which is McCarthy’s management’s rationale for him not wanting to return to GWS) in a true clinical sense is more linked to a major trauma – your house burning down; or a bank employee being robbed at gunpoint and not wanting to return to the location. Not “homesickness” or “I’m not enjoying it”.
    This is a case where the commercial interests of different enterprises (football club; voracious manager and rich young man) intersect with the simple love of sport – as you so eloquently point out. GWS have made a big investment in its players, and it doesn’t want to see that all poached by another club (Freo or anyone else) for a few glass beads in return. I know young blokes are naïve, but McCarthy’s manager had a responsibility to explain that when he signed a contract for 5X more income than any other guy his age could ever dream of.
    Lastly, I had no time for McCarthy’s claims and behaviours until I saw the footage of him kicking the footy at training with South Fremantle last Thursday night. I thought he was just a spoiled prat. But the enjoyment on his face was obvious. It was just as you describe in your final paras. I hope he has a good life and career at Myrtleford. ABF (Anywhere But Fremantle). Ross Lyon seems a strange choice for someone who just wants to enjoy the game.
    Onya Earl.

  3. kath presdee says

    Well done Earl – best piece on McCarthy I’ve read to date.

    The role of the manager in this scenario is something that many Giants supporters have been wondering about.

    Cam signed a contract extension very early on in the piece – before he’d even played a game of seniors. At the time he was being given a run in defence because when you’re in a team with Cameron, Patton, Boyd, Stewart, Lobb, Tomlinson… being tall and able to kick a footy is not going to get you a game.

    Maybe it was being thrust a lot further up the chain than he expected that threw him. All of a sudden Patton is injured, Boyd is gone to the Doggies and, based on his NAB Challenge performances, he gets a run in the starting side. He has some really good games, gets a rising star nomination and then his form starts to tail away. He gets dropped to the NEAFL, has to work his way back into the team – at the same time that Patton is recovering. Patton is a number one draft pick, the kid whose fortunes have been cruelled by injury not once but three times and a player that will be picked ahead of most forwards in the club when fit. I may have imagined it, but I did not think that Patton and McCarthy gelled together well the one time they played together in the forwards for GWS. I think both played selfish towards the other (but not towards Jezza who also played).

    Why would you advise a kid to extend his rookie contract if you’re not sure how he’ll cope on the other side of the continent away from home? Why, as soon as McCarthy was dropped to the NEAFL side, do hints start appearing in the “Sliding Doors” feature that McCarthy will go to Freo if he doesn’t come back in the top side? Why does Damian Barrett have the details of the Cam McCarthy exit interview completely and utterly wrong – McCarthy didn’t tell the Giants he wanted a trade and then he’s out having beer and pizza with teammates when the show is broadcast? Why does he then train without approval just when the TV cameras are at the other club?

    Is this McCarthy, is this his manager giving poor advice, is it part of an end-game to have him back home on a better deal than he would otherwise be – given he is unlikely to ever be the star forward, let alone franchise player at GWS? Who knows. I just hope that, however the saga ends, a young man is able to find himself doing something he enjoys.

  4. Earl O'Neill says

    Thanks Peter & Kath for the insights.
    I really should have titled this The Nathan Ablett Cup. Can that be fixed?

  5. Consider it done Earl. Added a Searchers clip in honour of your piece and Trans-Dementia Inc (investing in my future). Couldn’t find a good “When You Walk in the Room” clip unfortunately. Cheers.

  6. Tania Mccarthy says

    I’m glad there are so many experts that know the real truth. Thanks for your insight. I use to believe what I read but no longer do. We are all quick to judge . To have someone who has gone from a vibrant confident person to a person who is struggling day to day and his condition was not diagnosed by a manager , himself ,or parents but the club doctor and specialist . This has not happened overnight it has been ongoing had nothing to do with being dropped. It was way before that and If only,! He got on well with his team mates and it’s a shame to see comments otherwise. Don’t blame a 18 year old boy for signing a contract yes he did 3 months there but blame should be put on us as parents who were roar and thought it was a great opportunity at his age, but in hindsight should have seen how he was coping after a extended time there. Every day we blame ourselves but what is done is done. To see a smile when he has run on a oval is worth so, so.much , as at times you could not see that happening and people see that differently and comment yet again , If have read about this disorder all that you once loved doing previous is lost and to all the outside who judge that, you have no idea. To have hidden how you are feeling how stressed you are because you don’t want to worry your parents and sisters . .Until you have walked this path please don’t judge as up until last year I would have laughed at any suggestion, and too would have not understood also The key is family and at times we could have crumbled but we are holding strong, together with great help and wonderful close friends. I would love nothing more than one day seeing Cam out there again doing what he loves doing, but let’s just take it a day at a time . This is not put on and has never been about footy it’s about a boy getting back to the way he once was bubbly full of life. Loving his occupation . Football offers great opportunities and for that we are grateful , Exercise iis the key so if he has a smile on his face it’s a great day, this unfortunately was not in the script but we will play the hand we are dealt and be stronger for it.

  7. Earl O'Neill says

    Thank you for your words Tania. I wish you and your family great good fortune.

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