Monthly Archives: April 2012

NAVY BLUES?

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Mike Sheahan finally gets it.

Mike Sheahan has had a change of heart.

AFL football reporter Mike Sheahan has always had a bee in his bonnet about the ANZAC DAY football match being exclusive to Essendon and Collingwood. Every year he gets on his high horse about the unfairness of the game being exclusive to these two clubs. In reply I monotonously  enter a post in this forum every year about the ridiculous notion that some people in football and other clubs think the game should be shared around to other teams.

These people including Mike Sheahan just don’t get it.

The day is so big because Essendon and Collingwood make it big. During the pre-match ceremony put on by the RSL and the armed forces, you could hear a pin drop amongst the 87,000 crowd, most with heads bent in respect of the men and women who gave their lives in defence of our country. The fans totally understand and respect the occassion. No other club could put on the show that these two clubs do with such class and distinction each year. How many other clubs could pull a crowd of 87,000 on a most miserably cold and wet Wednesday afternoon?

Of all of the other big clubs, Carlton supporters only show up when their team is doing well, Hawthorn would only pull a similar crowd if the game was against either Essendon or Collingwood, Melbourne supporters would be at the ski resorts and you couldn’t contemplate Richmond being involved. Fair dinkum, if Richmond supporters were in the trenches together they would end up shooting each other.

In the leadup to this years’ ANZAC DAY clash, Sheahan again commented on how he thinks the game should go out to other worthy clubs. My instant reaction was ‘Here we go again – Sheahan just doesn’t get it’.

After the match last night Mike Sheahan was scheduled to comment on radio 3AW and I listened intently to hear what dribble he would bleat about the unfairness of the match. Would he suggest Poor ol’ Footscray or North Melbourne should play the match? Would it be last years’ premiers to play off?

I was however pleasantly surprised to hear that after all this time Sheahan has finally changed his views. After yesterday’s fantastic occassion Mike Sheahan came on radio and admitted that he thinks the game should now be exclusive to Essendon and Collingwood since yet again both clubs put on an epic display of football and along with the RSL a top class event. It is a very refreshing change of heart from Sheahan who after 17 years of Ess/Coll ANZAC DAY clashes has finally realised that Collingwood and Essendon have earnt their right to keep this match exclusively theirs.

I don’t often agree with Mike Sheahan but I’m pleased he finally understands that the success of the day is totally attributed to Essendon and Collingwood in conjunction with the RSL and the Armed Forces.

pic:  heraldsun.com.au

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FLETCHER REACHES 350 GAME MILESTONE

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Dustin Fletcher is to play his 350th AFL game this weekend against Gold Coast.

Fletcher is a star of the game who is highly regarded and greatly respected. His longevity and desire to play the game at such a high level at the age of 37 is testamount to the champion who began his AFL career in 1993.

From the beginning of his career as a 17 year old, Fletcher was thrown in the deep end, taking on the some of the greatest forwards to have ever played Australian Rules Football. Kernahan, Ablett, Dunstall, Lockett, Modra, Lynch, Sumich just to name a few. What a wealth of forward talent that era was.

I was on a footy trip in Adelaide late in 1992 where Dustin Fletcher’s father, former Essendon Captain Ken Fletcher was the guest speaker at an Essendon Football Club luncheon. Ken Fletcher mentioned how Essendon were almost certain to recruit his son Dustin for the next season. Ken had no doubt that his son would have a successful football career. I’m sure no one would have dreamt that Dustin would still be playing 20 years later but the club certainly knew that they had a star in the making. I recall Ken Fletcher saying that his son’s name was ‘Dustin’ and he hated being called ‘Justin’ which my travelling partners Pear, Legend,  Squatter and I all found most amusing at the time.

I remember Fletcher’s first match for Essendon, the famous ‘One more Kerna’ game where Carlton’s Stephen Kernahan missed a goal after the siren from the boundary at the MCG. Fletcher as a lanky young kid (he is still a lanky old kid) played much of that game in the ruck. He was then moved on to Kernahan to stop the star forward. The debut was a fantastic game for the young Fletcher.

Some weeks later, Fletcher was selected to play on Stephen Kernahan at full back in the Grand Final of 1993 against Cartlon. Kernahan was in fantastic form and while he kicked 7 goals for the day, Fletcher was far from disgraced and Essendon won the Grand Final.

Fletcher’s nickname of ‘Inspector Gadget’ is a perfect fit as he tends to come from nowhere to punch the ball, tap to his team mates advantage or get a toe poke from no where to clear the ball from defence. The only blemish in Fletcher’s record is the number of times he has been reported but these reports were rarely from malice or unsportsman like footy, most of his suspensions have been from crude tackles or ‘accidental’ trips where he has extended his Inspector Gadget foot or hand in his job as defender for the Essendon Football Club.

I can’t ever remember Fletch playing a bad game.

You rarely see Fletcher interviewed on TV. He has until recently shied away from the leadership group of the footy club. He comes across as a shy and quiet unassuming player who just goes about his business for his football team but he holds the respect and affection of his team mates and supporters of both Essendon and opposition teams.

Dustin Fletcher would also have made a great forward player. He is a strong mark, accurate kick and incredibly smart footballer.I would love to see Fletcher continue to boot his famous torpedo punts from defence or run down the ground to nail a long goal, control the backline and be Essendon’s rock in defence for another 50 games. Only two other players, Michael Tuck and Kevin Bartlett have played 400 games. Fletcher would be a most suitable player to join the 400 club.

A two time premiership player and Crichton Medallist for the Best and Fairest Player in Essendon’s 2000 premiership year heads his distinguished and brilliant career. He was also a great full back/goal keeper in the International Rules form of our game against the Irish Teams.

Congratulations on 350 outstanding games Fletch – number 31.

pic: au.news.yahoo.com

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