To Everything There is a Season

October the 5th is my mother’s birthday. We go over to Montmorency to have a beer or a glass of wine and some of Mum’s home cooking. There is nothing like warm biscuits out of the maternal oven. There is no strict recipe. Each batch has its own mothering nuance; its own unique feel and touch and aroma. Scientists should search for the “God particle” in a tray of Mum’s strawberry jam shortbread slice, rather than the depths of space.

We gathered on the weekend; my family, my brothers, their wives and Mum’s grandchildren. Mum, rather surprisingly (she’s not a huge football person), was disgruntled that her Swans are likely to recruit Buddy. She doesn’t believe that he fits in with the culture of the Bloods. Her boys are lovely. She’s not sure Buddy is lovely. The prospect of Buddy at the Swans has thrown her out of balance.

It doesn’t feel right to me either. Putting Buddy into the Swans is like having Eddie Obeid as a guest on Playschool. But maybe the trade month says more about us than it does about football. As Obi-Wan Kenobi said:

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force.”

The trade period challenges us. We question loyalty. It brings change.  It’s unsettling and unnerving. It’s just plain weird. Some of our boys, the boys we’ve loved and defended in the face of outrageous opposition judgement, are simply put up for trade. What does that mean, “put up for trade”? It means some players are discarded; beheaded, gutted, and tossed aside like a fisherman heaves carp carcasses up the bank of the Murray.

“No good.”

There is a finality to it; a brutality. Someone we were attached to we simply detach from.

Worse than that, it means that players are taken out of their guernsey. Take a player out of a particular guernsey and he’s no longer that player. Did Dermie look the same in a Collingwood jumper? Will Chappy be Chappy in a Richmond sash? Would Uluru still be special if it were shifted to Parramatta? Would Mum’s ANZAC cookies be the same if she didn’t bake them?

Trade period sits in a perplexing month. And it belongs there, as do all things mystifying, baffling and troubling. October is a month of absurd contrast; of frivolity and immense consequence. It triggers beauty and bastardry, turmoil and peace.  Things happen. Green Turtles go in search of the perfect beach on which to nest their eggs, landslides take out whole villages in rural China, cheery people in Melbourne gather around race tracks, stock markets traditionally crash, mock oranges exude their enchanting perfume, lunatics commence their “killing season”, and Franklins go to Sydney. Madness and splendour. Greed and grace. Life and death.

There is something more to Mum’s birthday. Something that dwells within us. A piece of all of us died on the 12th of October 2002 in Bali when the Sari Club became the target of crazed minds. It was merely a week after we had gathered in Montmorency; a week after we had all laughed and drank and sang. And it stays with us. As we joyfully sing Happy Birthday to Mum every year we also mourn. The colour of Spring battles with the blackness in our hearts. October confounds us.

We remember Jessica; daughter, sister, niece, cousin. Forever 21.

About Damian O'Donnell

I'm passionate about breathing. And you should always chase your passions. If I read one more thing about what defines leadership I think I'll go crazy. Go Cats.


  1. Dips

    Just a really, really, really good story. Thanks for letting us be part of it.


  2. Dips We will share Mead one day. I look forward to that day immensely

  3. There is no sense in senselessness, so I won’t try to make any.
    I used to make grand plans and then disappointment myself with the weight of my own expectations.
    Now I try to do a few useful things each day, and no bad ones, and it adds up to a good life. In my case a long one, already nearly triple Jessica’s allocation.
    My dumb luck, that I am grateful for every night and every morning.
    Thanks Dips. And Jessica.

  4. Beachcrave says

    Thank you for sharing with the Almanac family Dips.
    Thanks for the perspective during the white noise contrariness that is October.

  5. Steve Fahey says

    Lovely story Dips

    It can be difficult for we sport aficionados to remember that sport is important, but not everything, in life. We often take the much bigger things for granted and get very excited about other stuff.

    Thanks for sharing

  6. Thea Allan says

    Lovely story of your Mum’s cooking and her Anzacs. You are quite right about Mum’s Anzacs being the same if she doesn’t make them! They are not!!

    Mum is right about Buddy going to Sydney. Reading between the lines I get the impression it’s the friends and the lifestyle, not the footy that attracts him.
    Can you remember what Matthew Richardson did (or did not) do after getting his big big pay increase at Richmond? How many goals did he kick in the years following? Terribly disappointing when it’s ony money.
    As for Chappy. .. well he won’t be Chappy in another guernsey. He will be Paul Chapman! One more year at the Cats was all he wante. I do hope the Cts don’t come to regret this decision.
    October certainly is a time of change. We will just have to live with it if we cannot change it!

  7. Peter Fuller says

    I’m touched by the emotional power of this contribution. I was cruising along, nodding at the truth of “Mum’s cooking’. How that resonates for so many of us!
    Then can the kick in the guts of the final paragraph. I can only begin to imagine what that must mean to you and your folks. I can only hope for you that you continue to find the strength to keep getting through your loss.

  8. Good on you Dips.
    “daughter, sister, niece, cousin.”
    Cheers to our parents, siblings, uncles, aunties, cousins and children everywhere.

  9. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Beautiful Dips. Gee you’ve mellowed since 2008. Must be all those premierships.

  10. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Commenced Reading the Article and am thinking yep lovely family bit and yep I agree with your Mum and then thinking we are all going to have to accept this free agency and trade bit as it is only going to increase and then wam your beautifully written last paragraph on Jessica being friends with Tim Weatherald I have spoken to him about Bali and read his and Jason McArtneys books the whole situation is stil impossible to comprehend
    Thank You Dips for sharing with The Almanac Community

  11. Luke Reynolds says

    Wow. Beautifully written Dips.

  12. Yvette Wroby says

    Hi Dips, thoughts are with you and your family, with all the families who remember, together, sad times. I am just glad you are all gathered, it makes such a difference. Thank you for sharing both the amusing and sad. Great piece, as usual


  13. Powerful stuff, Dips.

  14. A privilege to read this, Dips.

  15. daniel flesch says

    Along with everyone else , Dips – lovely story! If possible though , i’d like to reassure your mum (and others) about Buddy at the Swans. Most people see him as a star and a lairrikin. Which he he is , but at Hawthorn he is also seen as a good team player. As far back as 2008 , before the G.F. he said he didn’t care how many goals he did or didn’t kick as long as the game was won. He kicked just the two that day , but with impeccable timing (apology for the cliche) and he kept Scarlett occupied and unable to launch his characteristic attacks from the backline . Ever since Buddy has “played his role .”e.g upfield in this year’s G.F. Sometimes he has given off the ball when he could’ve or even should’ve gone for goal himself. He’s a larrikin , but not a lair. Hawthorn’s official statement – unlike some of the more rabid comments by “supporters”- thanks Lance for his 9 years’ service and wishes him well. Apart from findiing the deal with its megabucks and spurious COLA rather off , i think your mum will come to accept and even appreciate the Hawk turned Swan.

  16. Appreciate the comments and kind thoughts.

    PB – I love your approach to your days – “I try to do a few useful things each day, and no bad ones.” Sounds easy. Is probably bloody difficult.

  17. Barb Smith says

    Beautiful story Dips.
    I’m so sorry for your tragic loss.
    Jessica is alive in a few more hearts now.

    And your mum will be barracking for Buddy by round 2.

  18. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    A gentle, subtle reflection on life and death, the minute versions and major.
    Thank you Dips.

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