I dunno, it's been a funny old year so far and it's only August. Of course, in the footy fan's calender, that means the year is just about shot to bits. For mine, there doesn't appear to be that redeeming light at the end of the tunnel. I haven't blogged in due to outside influences...
There's a recurring theme, or dream, or nightmare going on though... without getting too specific we've seen plenty of sentiment expressed on Dockerland relating to poor performances and the 'it's about time' mentality. There's a few of us who have been aboard for the full catastrophe and we've probably all seen about enough floundering footy failures to last us for at least the rest of the millenium and quite possibly into the next one. I can still remember sitting in a half full Subi and watching in disbelief as the ball repeatedly found itself being banged through the sticks at the wrong end due to some catastrophic series of moments you could only describe as totally lacking in skill from our valiant warriors in green and red. Longevity as a supporter is sometimes used to qualify an argument or point of view... speaking from personal experience, folks, it's probably more suited to supporting committal papers for psychiatric treatment. Flourish your original fob watch at your peril, then.
I have a perception that footy fans here in Wessastraya seem to expect success as some sort of birthright. For as long as I've been posting on Dockerland, there has been someone willing to argue the point that it's 'about time' we had a flag or 'we'll never be respected until...' etc. While I tend to agree with the 2nd point to some extent, the first leaves me bemused. Winning a flag isn't something you get to do as a matter of course, aligned with some sort of cosmic timepiece... unless you're referencing Even Cowgirls Get The Blues and if you are, check your thumbs at the door before professing to argue the manly topic of footy and flags, eh?
The respect thing is relative. Relative to intelligence, basically. Most 'respect' in the footy world relates to having someone like Robert Walls or Mike Sheehan say positive things about your team. The vast majority of the footy media then tow the line and fall in behind these dinosaurs of the media, parroting their comments and stance or trying manfully to add their own individual twist to it. Anyone who's read Cameron Noakes dismal failures will understand the hilarity that can result. That crew are like sheep... and as a Kiwi, I believe you will have to bow to my superior knowledge in that field... Gerard Healy prefers the Southwest surf and I won't have a bad word spoken about him.
The astute follower... you and I, basically, will have noticed something of a trend in the footy media, though. The emergence of reasonable commentators fresh off the playing field. The first I noticed was Wayne Carey, an excellent comments man with a surprising understanding of the game and a matching ability to articulate that during it. James Hird offers a similarly weighted point of view on the couch, although I haven't made a point of watching that every week... too much Sheehan on the leather for my taste. Makes it slippery to sit on. There's a couple of others around, too... some in the coaching world offer their comments at different times and the one thing I've noticed from these fresher voices in the media is their acknowledgement of the difficulties facing clubs in maintaining a list that can front up week in, week out for 22 weeks and compete at the top level. When it comes to us, our team, there is a distinct lack of the ridicule evident in these guys' comments that you get from the geese previously mentioned.
Some of you lot, the supporters, could take a leaf from that book. Sure, it's frustrating seeing us flounder around the bottom of the ladder but take some perspective ferchrissakes. Have a look at this
and note the number of flags won by some clubs. The Saints, 1 flag, back in '66. The Demons have 12, but none since '64. The Bulldogs, 1 flag back in '54. Thanks to Mangoraven for reminding me, too, that North Melbourne couldn't get it together to win one for 50 years in a 12 team comp, either...
Don't come whingeing about West Coast, either. Sure, they have 3 flags although one of them was last seen rolled up into a tight pipe shape being passed around at some bloke's place who probably can't be named for the sake of the risk of litigation but something has to explain showing up at the tribunal in a deranged state...
but comparing clubs and their trophy count is ultimately pointless and bound for grief, unless you really are just into that whole dick waving scene. Sure, the point of the game is to win and we're always told you're in it to win flags and we always believe everything we're told, don't we?
If you had a chance to talk with some of the great players in the game who didn't win a flag, do you seriously think they're going to tell you it was all a waste of time because they didn't? My money says they'll talk about the camaraderie, the happy memories of mates doing good things, dumb things, funny things and the odd misunderstood thing with an animal. They'll talk about the game and all the things that make it great, they'll talk about how they enjoyed playing it and how they enjoyed sharing that with mates... and while we hunger for success, we would do well to remember that sort of thing in the middle of it all. It's just a game, a game where 36 fit blokes chase a couple of flaps of pigskin sewn up and pumped up for a couple of hours.
There's other things in life... and every flag won marks another year gone, another stoop in the old folks' back, another missed chance to connect with your kids, another rending heartbreak in the foolishness of romance, perhaps. Footy's fantastic and I love it for the sheer stupid magnificence of it all... but it's not the be all and end all.
Mark Harvey has done and said all the right things with our mob, by the way. He's told us not to expect too much in the short term as we rebuild, so has Pav in his post match comments when he's too buggered to think clearly but still has time to gee up the supporters in a disappointing year. The club has stuck to the hard option of rebuilding and so far they're doing it. People tearing their hair out over the inconsistent performances this year miss the point... this is exactly what happens when clubs rebuild and play a lot of inexperience. It affects the whole team and older players lose form as they carry a greater load.
Take a step back, folks... take a step back and reflect on what's going on. Patience... ya know, the only reward for patience is patience?
here's a toon for the coffee...