“You can win without skill but you can’t win without spirit.” – Norm Smith

February 14, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: NSW Demons 

2019 prelude – pre-season report

Nigel Dawe

“You can win without skill but you can’t win without spirit.” – Norm Smith.  Every football club is like a classic novel, whereby each decade might represent a chapter and each season could well be a page. That said, I’m thrilled to see what will soon be ‘written’ on the currently blank page that is season 2019 for us.

Whilst Round One outright represents the 2400th time our team has graced a VFL/AFL field, I’ve been suitably reflecting on the many whys –related to ‘absolutely’ why I go for Melbourne and what keeps me so enthralled with the every nuance and turn of this team – and primarily it is its history, its on-going story, a story that stretches farther back in time than any other team (of any code) in the world. Of course I more than fully appreciate seeing its future evolve and unfold but I just love acquainting myself with its past – delving into the tales, the records, the stats, facts and fascinating figures of not just the club’s shining stars but its lesser lights as well.

Take one of my ‘lesser known’ favourites for example – Artie Best, a bloke who hasn’t taken the field for 105 years and only played a dozen games – but in his very last game of VFL footy before bravely sailing off to the battlefields of WWI, he did what no one else in Melbourne colours had ever done and fair to say, will ever do again. Artie kicked the team’s entire score of 5.5 against South Melbourne (who were no light weights, being that year’s eventual runners -up).

Similarly, talking last appearances before never appearing in the red and blue ever again, if there was one game I’d like to see in our club’s entire history (besides the 1926 Grand Final) I know call me Dr Who now, but it would have to be Fred Fanning’s ‘big day out’ in 1947 and his mammoth return of 18 goals, 1 point in front of the sticks, which remains not just a club, but a competition record haul to this day. I’d also love to have seen his 105.5 metre roost at the MCG in the 1939 reserves Grand Final, one that landed him (with an accompanying sonic boom) into no less than the Guinness Book of Records for the longest kick of all-time.

And then there are some records or accolades that simply don’t reflect or do justice to what it is they were intended to honour, if not honourably commend. Take our great Robbie Flower’s ‘one’ solitary club best & fairest award (he also claimed 4 runner up mantles) but the fact he earned more Brownlow votes than any other Demons player (150 to be exact) highlights something I’ve never been able to reconcile.

Similarly the great Gary Ablett Snr only ever took out the one club best & fairest award in his whole career at Geelong, and this pair were perhaps the most mercurial players I’ve seen in the last 40 years. Maybe their brilliance was just expected and never came as a ‘surprise’ to those who ‘oversaw’ such things, I don’t know, and never will.

But isn’t that what makes our game so great and follow-able – the eternal subjective engagement and stimulation it offers each and every one of us without exception, it is an afforded ‘buy in’, a chance to share and partake each year over a lifetime in something absolute and grand, or as Oscar Wilde once so tellingly observed for particularly players and coaches, but also fans alike: “The world only belongs to you for a season.”

Click here join NSW Demons now.

follow us on twitter Follow us on twitter

join our facebook group Join our facebook group

Sign up to our newsletter: