Monday afternoon, I thought of Yeatesy. Wrote about him. Look me up if you”re on Facebook, have a read. This is football, this is life. See the comments. The crowd gathers around one of us. We’re all in this together.
Yesterday I did something I’d been meaning to do for the longest time. Published a website for my latest venture. It’s a work-in-progress, but it feels right, building other communities in other ways, doing something to try and make a difference. Many have helped along the way, and none of this is forgotten. I Posted about it also:
Hasn’t been easy since being de-listed from footy writing, but I’ve found a way. Have had to. Nobody likes being pushed, not when they think they’ve still got a few more words in them, a few more stories.
Endings are not always of our choice.
Last night, celebrating a new beginning by sorting-out loose ends, I came across a folded piece of paper that I’d long forgotten. A sting of words put down, an idea in the telling. Reminded of tomorrow night, of what a game of football might be; a series of contests, each of equal importance, needing to be halved or won for the ball to go the right way.
Straight from the jottings – and please excuse my scrawl – it reads like this:
31 seconds left in the third quarter
Richmond 7 points up
Dave Astbury mops up a loose ball in defence and on his right foot chips to the wing,
On the head of Dusty
4 against 44
“Now that’s a fifty-fifty maybe, Stewart vee Martin”
Dusty drops an overhead mark, Stewart leads the ball to the boundary, overruns it and it lands in Dusty’s lap.
Element of luck.
As Stewart doubles back, Dusty – our Dusty – clutching the ball in his right, hunched, turning, extends his left arm, pushes an off-balance Stewart on the shoulder and all the possibilities of the game open up.
Bruce goes guttural.
“Dusty, awww Dusty, that is classic Dusty.”
Two bounces in space, running up the outer wing, all us Richmond crowd roaring him on, a crescendo, a release – the game in the balance, a whole history of defeat and despair and loss to be cast aside – a single act, a dance, making space, a moment of the sublime – him, it had to be him, all power and grace in open terrain, thumping the ball into the ground with each bounce, his Geelong counterpart sprawled on the grass, outwitted, outplayed, outfoxed by our main man.
Jack Riewoldt cameo: spearing pass to Dion Prestia, unattended at the top of the goal square, and the crowd behind the posts at the Punt Road end are on their feet, erupting in untrammelled euphoria.
All the emotions, all that star-crossed history, is released and banished there and then.
We have Dusty. We have this football team. We have all the parts of a beautiful sum.
On this night, for this moment, we have the whole world at our feet.
Cleaning up the house this afternoon I came across a photograph of me, running. Soft golden light, the long shadows on a late Saturday winter’s afternoon. A last game for an old team of mine, the Cooma Cats. Snowy Oval, remember it well. A friend took the picture. She’s now back home, in Canada.
That’s me running from the backline, head up, maybe raising my voice, wanting to be heard.
We all get old.
Do it while you can, and do it for as long as you can. Run, run, run.
Our boys will win on Friday night, not because we are cocky, but because a fire of regret burns still inside. The lived experience of last year remains raw. What does not kill us, etc.. An opportunity lost, a season unfulfilled.
Our boys will win because enough of them are still hurting, and all the others are hungry, and because as a group they have confronted and overcome adversity. New players have been given an opportunity and all have risen to the occasion. Most of the older players are playing as well as they ever have, some even better.
Run, run, run,
New bonds have been forged. Respect and admiration is renewed, again and again. It comes from courage, and grace, and humility. It comes from each player playing for each other, as a team, which in turn means each of them plays for us.
Our boys will win, not because it is written in the stars, not because it is a right, because they are entitled, nor because many expect them to, but because they know every little moment matters and none of it can be wasted. Time runs out. Not a moment can be lost.
This Friday night, it will all be gained.