Yabba (from the cheap seats), part 3: Spiritual leaders, give me a break

“There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know”, if you know what I mean. And if you wanna know more, read on …

1.      Spiritual Leaders

Hodge is, apparently, the Hawks’ spiritual leader. I’m sure your club has one too. Trouble is, a spiritual leader “leads people in a godly way that brings honour to Christ”. Seriously. There is not 15 different ways you can interpret the concept of spiritual leader. It is about God, full stop. So how did this quite specific term leech its way into footy terminology? God knows? I say it’s time we brought this nonsense term to a halt. What happened to the fundamental secular rule about separation of church and footy?

The Cats attempted to transcend the laws of the juggle ball and at one time had both God and Buddha on its side. Even with such esteemed spiritual leaders they still couldn’t consecrate a flag on Good Saturday. However, having the Son of God (actually, sons of God) brought them better luck.

I have no doubt Hodge can walk on water. Heck, I’ve seen him move through demons and saints as if they were mere mortals. I’ve seen him maintain the faith when his team-mates turned into doubting Thomaseseseses (times infinity). That doesn’t make him a spiritual leader. It makes him a footy leader or a Hawks leader. Full stop.

2.      Don’t mention the R word

I have to. Following the repugnant displays of racism, first at the Sydney vs Collingwood game and then, more shockingly and disturbingly by Collingwood President, Eddie Everywhere (while on air!) there was a flood of righteous consternation. And, for the most part, rightly so.

However, I couldn’t help notice that while howling at the forest we saw straight past trees that go to the root of the problem. Few would disagree that Harry O was commendable for his immediate condemnation of McGuire’s comments. However fewer still noticed or spoke up about why the captain or the coach or the CEO or all of the Collingwood team didn’t act as immediately and articulately as Harry O. Or why they hardly acted at all. (Caveat: This is not a dig at Collingwood. Rather, it is using Collingwood as an example for us all to learn from).

Then, IMHO, an even more glaring example of the ignorance of race and history and responsibility occurred. Collingwood coach, Buckley, offered “Andrew Krakouer and Harry O’Brien the option of sitting out Friday night’s game against Brisbane Lions if they feel they are not in the right mental state”.  Reasonable gesture? More condescending than reasonable I think. Why was the offer given merely to those two players? Surely other players in the team felt hurt and angry and other feelings too about what transpired. Didn’t they? This is the rub. This is what we have to work on. Harry O was an excellent spokesperson on this matter but the Pies (and the Hawks and so on) should have 100 good spokespersons. That will start to eradicate the disease. For good.

3.      The Torp

At Under 11s footy training one of the parents said that they don’t like the torpedo. More concerning was that he didn’t let his kids kick them. I asked why, trying not to display my incredulity and rage. He said they’re messy and they hardly ever come off. Isn’t that the point? What, are we all turning into risk management auditors?

There isn’t a kick more artful, more spectacular than when the torp does come off. I’m thinking of Bartel going the torp, kicking in following a behind scored in the game against the Bombers. The Cats were hardly in the game when Bartel attempted this audacious kick. It paid off. Stokes marked it, took the ball down the ground, the Cats goaled and the game opened up for them. That is the torp’s ace. It inspires like a fire and brimstone speech. Actually I’m really thinking of the Hawks 12 second goal which began with a Guerra torpedoed kick-in. The beauty of the world. What a piece of work.

The torp is the shinning beacon, not just of the game but of imagination and derring-do. Of desire and chance rolled up into a moment when everything feels just right. The expressiveness of the body as  muscles, mechanics and mind work together is only bettered by the turn and arc and motion of the ball delivered from a boot deliberately and definitively placed to achieve the maximum impact of speed, height, length and grace. If football had seven wonders the torp would be one of them.

4.      The Bump

This is a great song by a great band:

Long may it hold its own!

Yabber, from the cheap seats


About Rick Kane

Up in the mornin', out on the job Work like the devil for my pay But that lucky old sun has nothin' to do But roll around Heaven all day


  1. The Wrap says

    Let’s not not mention the R word, eh Yabba? Especially after the abhorrent episode in the Northern Suburban League. Where Hurstbridge players & spectators, reportedly, viley abused Reservoir players for their ethnic background, specifying the colour of their skin. And this after all the blow up in the press during the proceeding fortnight about Adam Goodes & theCollingwood President. When the victims of this cowardly attack threatened to retaliate in kind, with threats of physical abuse, they were reported, tried and suspended. When the Reservoir coach & administration brought this gross injustice to the attention of the media they were charged with bringing the Game into disrepute. And duly suspended.

    Where was the AFL during these very disturbing events in Grass Roots Footy? Your guess is as good as mine, but I’ll tell you where they weren’t. They weren’t leading the investigation of the matter, and seeking to heal the deep social rift that this repugnant behaviour must have left in the Reservoir community.

    What happened during the Sydney Collingwood match, and what Artless Eddie blurted out on radio was disturbing enough. And while hurtful, was relatively harmless. As we approach probably the most threatening time in human history, what happened on that suburban football ground in an under age match, on the other hand, is a frightening indictment of our culture. By not taking leadership, the AFL & its CEO lost all credibility. Melbourne – and Australia – lost an opportunity to step up and be counted. And to right a wrong.

  2. Kaney, yabber from the cheap seats? Mate, the quality of your work is more deserving of a primo seat in the medallion club. Love how you’ve put your head above the parapet over these issues.

  3. Rick Kane says

    Dear Mr Wrap

    Thank you for your thoughts. As usual, considered and constructive.

    What happened in the Northern Football League is, as you say, “a frightening indictment of our culture”. It is part of the “trees” that I was talking about. Waleed Aly wrote a terrific essay for The Age a month or so back, also highlighting that an underlying current of racism, not only goes unchallenged, but in many ways is part of the mainstream culture.

    There is one point in your response that I must pull you up on. You say the Eddie thing was “hurtful” but “relatively harmless”. I think it was hurtful and extremely harmful. I attended a Reconciliation Week lunch at Kangan TAFE the day after he made those awful, stupid and grossly offensive comments. Each Indigenous speaker spoke about his comments and his selfish attempt to apologise without having to cop the full responsibility of his actions. It hurt them terribly so. And they were very concerned at the harm it had done and would continue to do.

    Dear Mr T Bone

    I says it as I sees it. Sometimes through one eye (the umpiring was fine on Friday night) and sometimes through both eyes (Girls and Justified are the best TV shows of the last few years) and sometimes with me eyes wide shut (beer in hand, opinions loaded up and ready to rip).


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