You have to love the genius of Blighty

By Adrian Vitez

Around 30,000 attended this Round 6 match-up at the Gabba. Like most other interested parties, I received it via the channel 10 telecast led by Quarters, and featuring the great Blighty on special comments. Blighty fits the special comments job description perfectly as he never fails to offer comments which are unique and indeed special.

After an immeasurable contribution to the game as an absolute gun player and premiership coach, his input is now limited to a few cameo performances in the commentary box where his speciality seems to be adding to the already rich vernacular of our great game.

With Essendon falling behind early in the contest, Blighty in his inimitable way wanted to find the Essendon player who would be able to, from memory, ‘rev it all around’ and ‘spark the joint up’. Unfortunately, no such player was to be found in the red and black tonight. Not that Vossy could give a rat’s tossbag as he chewed on his mixed lollies.

Thinking about Blighty leads one to ponder how lucky we are as followers of our great game to have such a wonderfully rich tradition of great players and coaches who fit the description of eccentric genius. Great men whose unique, unconventional, humorous and engaging personalities have left an indelible mark on the game and in many cases changed the game.

Ted Whitten, Ron Barassi, Kevin Sheedy, Lou Richards and Bobby Davis are such men. I’m sure there are many others also. On the field, these men were fierce competitors. As coaches or leaders, they were often innovators. As people, they have shown warmth while also being funny and engaging. Blighty might be a bit more distant these days since he moved to far north Queensland, but he can nevertheless hold his own in this company.

Does the crazy genius still exist in the professional modern game? It’s easy to bemoan a lack of personality and vision in today’s coaches and players. But in Port’s Mark Williams, and players such as Aker, Richo and even Robert Murphy, perhaps we have some candidates able to lay claim to their heritage.

But anyway, back to the footy. To be honest, it was a game of few highlights. Brisbane was organised, closing down space in the corridor where Essendon like to run their fancy handball drills. They invariably had numbers at the contest, and seemed to enjoy getting dirty and laying tackles. Their kicking was also annoyingly straight. Goals came from all sorts of different angles and distances – especially when Jonathan Brown had the ball in his hands.

For Vossy’s Lions, this seemed a hard working, blue-collar sort of win rather than one based of flair and excitement. I don’t think it was a Blighty sort of win.

At times the Dons looked like being on the cusp of mounting some sort of challenge, only to waste opportunities with poor kicking. It’s hard to spark the joint up when kicking points and this profligacy is becoming a worrying trend. At least Lloydy finally nailed his 900th. Normal transmission should ensue after three weeks of Lloyd missing important shots he would normally kick in his sleep. God help us if he’s stuck on 999 sometime next year.

But while Essendon often look good when games are open and free flowing, they seem to struggle when the opposition cover space through zoning.

Finally, the game ended on a disappointing note for Dustin Fletcher in his 300th. After 16 seasons, Fletcher remains as dependable as ever. This night he was once again amongst Essendon’s best before an ankle injury forced him off the ground. It will be a few precarious weeks for Essendon before we see him revving it around again.


  1. Pamela Sherpa says

    I loved Blighty as a player, a coach and now as a special comments man. I enjoy his football brain thoughts being aired.

  2. westcoastdave says

    I used to love seeing him on Talking Footy. Somehow he just sounds like a sports commentator – not the play-by-play type, but in that more considered role I find he gives me an insight into what is going on that, without a personal involvement in the game at that level, I would never otherwise get. The fact he is a bit left of centre doesn’t hurt either!

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