Happy to have the four points #1


Dinny on the nod, a good bit earlier. Wrong ball.

Sitting in the cold Melbourne cafe eating its dry, niggardly breakfast in the early afternoon with the rain thwacking down outside, the thought occurred that you really could not get things any incorrecter.

It was September 25, 2009. Dinny, just short of his second birthday, was asleep in his pusher as he had been ever since we left Flinders St Station 30 minutes earlier, completely oblivious to the life-defining event he was passing up – one on which a great deal had been written.

A month earlier, the sports desk at The National in Abu Dhabi had commissioned 1,500 to 2,000 words on the AFL Grand Final for its Saturday essay, to take up pages 2 and 3. But there were two particularly niggly snags to the deal.

First, it was to be published on the Saturday before world sport’s biggest day; and second, the Friday deadline for the piece coincided with the kick-off for the preliminary final, when the Bulldogs and Saints were to meet on the MCG’s honoured blades. There, they would kick things until time ran out. The loser would watch the Grand Final from the social club, with ticcy smiles for the fans. The winner would have a much more intimate view.

So, by the time copy needed to be filed no one could say for certain who would be playing in the bloody thing.

Therefore it was to be a tale of passion, and of passing love of the game from one generation to another. Dinny’s first Grand Final Parade, the start to a lifelong tradition, a bond between father and son.

And while writing the essay, a most appealing image appeared. That of standing with my boy on my shoulders in the broad, yet crisp Melbourne sunlight, as he kicked his little legs in delight and said “Daddy!” a lot while watching dozens of the country’s finest athletes being triumphantly paraded through the heart of a great, beautiful city.

A week later it was rattling down. People in the front had their umbrellas up, blocking any view. Dinny was cutting logs. I didn’t give a stuff who was in the cars. I’d watched the Dogs lose on the Friday night before. I wanted to go home. The bubble had burst.

After seven years of licking wounds, the demon was finally exorcised two weeks ago. Din and his sister Belle sat next to me as the Dogs finally broke a 54-year-old loser’s drought. Before the game started, Din said he wanted a Dogs jumper for Christmas, with the No.35 on the back. How sweet can life get?

Even sweeter when I finally got them to stop making fun of Marcus Bontempelli’s name and watch the game. Woof.

  • For anyone even remotely interested, here is the article. You must remember it was subbed by foreigners who prefer games where you’re not allowed to use your hands, God bless them. There was a little misunderstanding with drawn Grand Finals, and Terry Brown says I got his stuff all wrong. Bloody subs.

Press here for link

4 responses to “Happy to have the four points #1”

  1. Gerard N says :

    Love your work, Paul. I hate to be picky but . . . . the Dogs did not break a 54 year losing streak, it was 62 years after they won their first in 1954. And actually, scratch that, I love being picky!

    • dhabidog says :

      No, mate. They broke MY 54-year losing streak. But thanks for the read

      • Gerard N says :

        Oh, reading again “54-year-old loser’s streak” makes sense now. Comprehension fail, my mistake. But bloody hell, you’re getting old, you’ll catch up to me soon! I won’t point out the errors in the article in The National”, clearly the subby got a couple of things wrong. 😉

      • dhabidog says :

        Bloody hope it was a sub. As a seasoned sub meself I hate to blame them, but …

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