The Mighty Matadors

By Ged McMahon

It has been a few years since my Fridays have been lazy enough to justify spending an hour fixing, pimping, bolstering and shuffling my Supercoach team. My debut season in 2007 was a steep learning curve. It wasn’t until about Round 7 that I discovered that you can actually substitute your players on and off the starting 22. Up until then I thought some magical computer fairy did that for me. In hindsight it was clear that he didn’t; I was languishing on the bottom of the ladder by that stage.

But as the season continued, I started to learn more and was soon climbing my way up the ladder. Sadly it was all too late for finals action. As the cameras and microphones gathered around me after my last game, I spoke of “re-building phases”, “development”, “the year we had to have”, and “the need for a solid pre-season”. After a few weeks of “off-season” I decided to take a hiatus. The stress of coaching in the big time was too much. It has taken four years to re-introduce my Mighty Matadors to the fantasy football realms.

I’ve been very keen over the last few weeks. I’ve looked at a plethora of different combinations. I even went out and bought the Supercoach Footy Record with detailed analysis of all the listed players. I poured over this, it became my Bible. I didn’t leave the house without it, reading it on the train, reading it in the car, reading it at the tram stop. No stone was left unturned.

I decided that I needed to be more ruthless this time. So I was cutting and trading players with callous disdain. A coach needs to keep a professional distance from his players. Fresh from reading Moneyball­––the American baseball classic that champions a very businesslike approach to managing a sporting team––my players are to be seen as stocks. There is no room for sentiment.

Last weekend was Round One. The moment of truth had arrived. Thursday night I settled in to watch the Tiges vs the Blues. I only had Bryce Gibbs in my starting 22. Ed Curnow was an emergency. That was my first mistake. Curnow set the game alight. I started hoping for a withdrawal from one of my starting line-up. I wanted Curnow’s points to count. Gibbs helped me though, he gathers 138 points and I cheer every single one of them.

Friday night arrives. Again, I’m on the couch. I now see why coaches say it’s a 24/7 job. I’ve got a few more playing in the Saints vs Cats clash. Enright, Goddard, Hayes, Bartel and my captain courageous Joel Selwood. A pretty impressive quintet if I do say so myself. Selwood has also been named captain of the Cats for the night due to a Ling injury. Surely that’s a sign for the Matadors.

As expected, Selwood throws himself into every contest. Generally it’s head first. He gathers possessions quickly. I’m happy. Mid-way through the first quarter there’s a 50/50 contest between him and Farren Ray. Expectedly, Selwood charges in, eyes only for the footy. In an awkward accident, Ray collects Selwood’s head with his hip. Selwood lies prostrate on the grass, arms frozen above him and blood pouring out his mouth. It’s a disturbing sight. “Bloody hell, he’s one of my Matadors” I say forlornly to my girlfriend, “and he’s my bloody captain!” my voice breaks with that exclamation mark.

I take a moment to digest my words. What have I become? One of my courageous troops lies injured on the field of battle and all I can think of is myself. My steep learning curve continues; I must be more caring as a coach. The callous approach isn’t me. Forgetting the Matadors for a second––just a second––I had to applaud Selwood’s unblinking commitment to the contest and how that makes the game of Aussie Rules what it is. Our game is a test of courage and skill in equal measures. And that’s why I’m so excited that footy season is back.

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About Ged McMahon

Ged McMahon has been a Bombers fan for as long as he can remember. With a Grandpa who grew up just a spiralling torpedo punt from Windy Hill he didn't have much choice. When his junior football career resulted in almost as many possessions as games he eventually had to bite the bullet and give up his dream of captaining the Bombers to a Premiership. So his weekly footy fix became confined to the stands. He yearns for the next Premiership.


  1. Dan Crane says

    Top article Ged, the last paragraph reminded me of a conversation i had with my fantasy football obsessed wife during the same incident……with her playing the same role as you and me stating how ridiculous fantasy football can make people……like you she saw the light.

    as for this season surely the big winners will be the fantasy footy folk that guess the right way with the Suns! go Sam Day!

  2. Yeah Dan it’s a completely different way of looking at the game. I’m guessing a few people would’ve been in the same Selwood boat on Friday night… such a great player to watch.

    Suns will be very interesting, I loaded up on them in my team!

  3. Sal McMahon says

    Can’t believe, but am pleased to see you showing such respect to some of the Cats’ champions. Maybe you have finally seen the light.

  4. Alovesupreme says

    I’ve gone the other way; I can remember what seems like the infancy of fantasy football (mid-nineties ?) when I was obsessed. It took me a long time to break the habit, but in 2010 I managed to go cold turkey; so now I look on yo and your fellow “fantasisers” with the patronising air of the reformed smoker walking past the knot of desperates at the office doorway.

  5. Sal, don’t get too carried away – only one of your sons is a turncoat!

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