Thursday, 19 May 2016

A two-part friend, one-part fan account of 'Box'.



I don’t remember how many beers we’d drunk, but I remember that inhibition had departed us both hours ago.

It was the Northern Blues’ Mad Monday 2014 at the infamous Cricketers Arms on Punt Rd in Richmond. Folks who know the venue, need no further explanation. To keep it PG, it can be confirmed that two ‘entertainers’ had already frequented the venue, and one of the younger players had already fallen in love with both of them.

Outside and removed from the main group, I sat with Brent Bransgrove, chatting about all the things blokes talk about when the blood alcohol level is well above 0.05. Suddenly, his face sobered a little and his tone – which previously had been a confident ramble – resembled more of a croak as he uttered his next sentence.

“I think I’m done, Lodgey. My hips are cooked, my hamstrings aren’t much better, we didn’t win a game from June and my mates are all gone.”

There was a tear or two. Alcohol in its descriptive form as a depressant probably didn’t help. But this was raw emotion brought about by his love for football, his physical health and his emotional stability being as balanced as an Indian cricket umpire at Eden Gardens.

Brent Bransgrove will play his 100th and final Victorian Football League match on Sunday at Preston City Oval – where it all began – against crosstown and suburban rivals, Coburg. As our great game pulls itself away from its grassroots traditions, the script is set for once-sacred customs to be upheld for one final time.

As he retires from competitive football, Brent – arguably – goes out as another footballer in the grand scale of things. But in VFL circles, he goes out as one of the most courageous players to have ever played. In Preston/Northern Bullants/Blues circles he goes out as one of the club’s best captains, a deeds-before-words leader and a Life Member.

To me, he remains a legend – both defined by the vernacular term and a memory to those who got to watch him play. Brent is a footballers’ footballer, all the more impressive as the fact that he stands at just 170cm tall.

Brent. Glovebox. Boxer. Boxman. Boxy. Box.

My first memory of Box was during the 2012 pre-season at Carlton, when I thought my own football was going pretty well.

It was a mid-week session, and I remember that we had some of ‘the VFL boys’ come and join us, so they got a taste of what a proper AFL pre-season training session was really like.

Upon looking at Box, I thought it was great that the VFL side, the Northern Blues, was taking on a 16-year-old to foster his footballing development.

It took me a quick introduction to realise that Box was actually five years my senior.

It took me a couple of game-style drills to realise that he was pretty quick.

And it took me the rest of the session to realise that I had seriously underestimated him as a person and a footballer. Fortunately, I’m not alone in that camp. Unfortunately for the rest of those in this bracket, they’ve had to play against him and find out how wrong they were the hard way.

Despite playing four games for the year in 2012, my relationship with Box quickly turned from respected teammate, to genuine mate.

For the last four or five years, that mateship has un-wavered. The disappointment that I only got to spend one game on the same field as him is balanced by the joy I had to still work at the club during his leadership and playing tenure.

As my football petered out into uselessness and shifted my focus into a job as a club media figure with the Northern Blues, Box has been the most constant clutch of support in my endeavours.

Over the years of watching, supporting and reporting on Northern Blues matches, I’ve rode every one of Box’s bumps, hard ball gets, ferocious tackles and scream of delights when he kicked a captain’s goal.

On the field, moments stick out.

It was late 2014. Williamstown vs Northern Blues. It was the first time that Brent, in a depleted Blues side, was lining up against best mates Nick Meese, (now Richmond players) Kane Lambert and Adam Marcon for the Seagulls. In fact, it was the first match they’d played where they hadn’t shared the same jumper, going back almost 15 years.

There was plenty to play for, amid the personal motivations - the Blues needed a win to play finals. Box lined up on the edge of centre square for the first bounce as the opening siren rang.

As the ball was punished into the ground for the opening bounce, Box took off as Meese’s tap found Lambert, who had barely begun his pivot goal-ward before he was collected by an irresistible force.

Lambert – to his great credit – brushed off the opening bounce assault and carried on, but Boxy’s act signalled the tone for what was to come. He harassed, mauled, bashed and crashed his way for 120 minutes during a cyclonic day at Burbank Oval.

The final siren eventually sounded: advantage Williamstown, by 40-odd points. Box’s stats read 21 possessions, 12 tackles, plus physical and mental exhaustion.

That year he battled hip, groin and hamstring issues. This match occurred just weeks before the scene I set at the beginning of this article. Football was starting to take a toll.

Box has always kept it well hidden though, through an always positive demeanour and a laugh that could be heard from two suburbs away.

https://scontent-dfw1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/10250089_10205902196776708_3086859524264771951_n.jpg?oh=4a003e89302859837db2ea15e7bdd46e&oe=579CF68DThe reality was that former Northern Blues physiotherapist, Jay Anderson, was the only one who understood the sacrifice that Box made each week. Only Jay was privy to just how much of a risk the decision was when Box made the call to play on in 2015, let alone this year in 2016.

Success has been sparse for Brent Bransgrove, the footballer. Lost Grand Finals, seemingly always on the wrong-side of nail biters…and then there are the injuries.

It has never been about him. But Sunday will be – and fuck me, it deserves to be.

It’s not just 100 games. And it’s not just another VFL player retiring.

It’s a celebration of a chapter in Brent’s life that has had a profound impact on opposition coaches, opposition players, VFL commentators, prominent coaching figures in AFL circles, his own coaches, his own teammates, his friends and 19-24 year old girls who used to frequent Eve Nightclub.

If you do nothing else aside from nursing an anticipated hangover, get down to Preston City Oval this Sunday at 2pm, as the curtain falls on a football career belonging to one of the bravest I’ve ever seen, with a heart of gold.

Your day, Brent.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

An excitable pup, an uncontrolled mutt, now a respected old dog.


It’s a clip through mid-wicket, a scream of delight fighting its way over the decibels of 30,000 boisterous Indian fans, and several punches in the air with that glorious royal green cap on his head to compliment a century on debut.
It’s the busy rush that hastened a batting collapse and rewarded bowling figures of six wickets for nine runs.

It’s the pull through square leg on the last ball before lunch in his first Test in front of home fans at Brisbane.

It’s the patrolling of cover point next to Andrew Symonds; the catches, the stops, the run outs, the theatrics, the energy.

It’s this boyish youth amongst a dominating army of aging modern cricketing greats, driving fast cars, a diamond ear stud, spiky blonde hair, flash restaurants, thumping nightclubs, the Arabic scripture tattoo, a Slazenger bat sponsorship and the dream girlfriend.

Then it was the getting out, the getting dropped, the getting recalled, and the getting dropped again.

Then it was becoming a figurehead for everything that Australia supposedly wasn’t. The brash enthusiasm became arrogance, the youthful cheekiness enticed intolerance.

Then it was the run-ins with bloke’s blokes like ‘Katto’ (Simon Katich). ‘Haydos’ (Matthew Hayden) thought he was an ungrateful see-you-next-Tuesday and ‘Warnie’ (you know, the guy from the Marshall’s Battery ads?) was no longer his babysitter, grooming into the superstardom lifestyle.

Then it was quitting a tour of New Zealand to tend to that dream girlfriend’s insolence of trusting Brendan Fevola with a camera phone in a bathroom setting.

Then it was unseating ‘Punter’ (Ricky Ponting) as the captain of the Australian Cricket team at it’s lowest ebbs in two decades, and his announcing as the captain of the Australian cricket team being about as welcome to the Australian public, as a fart in a space suit.

An excitable, bubbly, clearly talented cricketer who burst on the scene at 22 into a cricket team with the average age of 32, and embraced the nickname, ‘Pup’.

Who knew that a nickname and its evolutions, could so clearly detail one’s man rise, fall, then second rising and imminent final bow?

The second rising of Michael John Clarke came from so many low points with glitters of resurgence that were hushed back down by an unrelenting and, at times, unappreciative cricketing public.

At one stage, a national newspaper apologised to Clarke on behalf of the public four years ago. But now that Clarke’s end is nigh as at some stage tonight, or in the wee hours of tomorrow morning while Australia sleeps, it’s this same public that is divided on what the outgoing captain of the Australian cricket team could, would or should be remembered for.

Let’s go back. It was the start of the career that was so tantalising.

Clarke – then known, and probably eternally, as ‘Pup’ – strode out to bat in Bangalore, India, a place where Australians, in the past and the present, have had their Test careers spun into a daze and hung out to dry.

Against Zaheer Khan, Anil Kumble and Harbajhan Singh, where his colleagues saw minefields and hand grenades that spun, bounced, stayed low and bamboozled, ‘Pup’ saw runs. 151 of them in fact. On debut if you don’t mind.

Australia went on to win the series – the first in India for years and years. The year was 2004. We’ve never won there since, and look about as likely Bronwyn Bishop accepting a gift voucher for helicopter ride this coming Christmas.

Then he came home to Brisbane, took the New Zealanders to task to become the first batsman in history to score a Test century on both overseas and home soil debuts.

Michael Clarke could bowl, bat, field, smile, and jag Lara Bingle. As an 11-year-old, I thought he could lecture on the subject of Life 101.

He was young. He was the prototype for young cricketers. The cricket apparel company Slazenger picked him up and brought out Michael Clarke bats. I wanted to bat like ‘Pup’, bowl left arm off-breaks like ‘Pup’, field like ‘Pup’ and tie down a fit bird like ‘Pup’.

Sadly the latter went as successfully as the pursuits of bowling with my left hand. We’ll leave that there…

The point is this: Michael Clarke was the idol for young cricketers, with confidence and talent to boot.

But as is the way society can be puppeteer-ed by the media’s influence as we consume the printing press’ content like a 4am McDonalds quarter pounder, Clarke fell out of form and favour.

The losing of wickets just before a break, the hitting the ball in the air to fielders, heightened the criticisms to the point that we felt like when ‘Pup’ made dig-deep centuries, the cricketing public felt that was the least they were owed.

As the aged champions ‘Pup’ started his career playing under retired, ventured into the media and discovered a thing called ‘hindsight’, things continued to unravel while Clarke took the leadership reign.

Then with the Australian public’s hatred, no bat sponsor and an experienced, touring Indian side wanting to rub salt into the wound staring him in the face, Clarke let his sticker-less bat do the talking.

A triple century, two double centuries and another hundred just for good measure. A 4-0 home whitewash. The Sydney Morning Herald’s apology.

The wheel was starting to turn, before a trip back to India jammed the revolution and sent proceedings the other way.

Big series losses in India and South Africa, a third Ashes campaign loss in England (out of four, and his first of two as captain) and it was back to square one.

A return home ashes series had everyone ironically predicting a 5-0 whitewash in favour of the touring Poms, after consecutive series defeats, including a home series 3-1 loss for the first time in three decades back in 2010-11.

A summer later, Australia played England 13 times across the Test, One-Day and Twenty20 formats, for a result of 12 wins and one loss. Clarke had the respect back.

But for all these trials, tribulations and periodic celebrations, nothing came close to the tragedy of Phillip Hughes.

10 years had passed since the ‘Pup’ had made a debut in India. He’d outgrown the nickname to be known as ‘Clarkey’ and was starting to outgrow his personality of being a ‘mutt’ in the eyes of everyone outside of the cricket team he was leading.

While Victorians submitted votes for their next premier, cars slowed, televisions were turned right up and people stood to listen, watch and take in Michael Clarke at his most vulnerable.

This pup and one-time mutt, was now an old dog, with sad, old eyes and breaking voice for someone who had long barked with confidence.

The press conference and eulogy was the mark of a man representing his own heartache, Hughes’ family’s despair and Australia’s hollow anguish at losing a man so young to an incident so cruelly infrequent.

Unlike Tony Abbott, when a leader was required for a nation in grievance, Michael Clarke stood up.

It was hard, it was tear-jerking, it was moving, but it was done.

Just as impressive was the hundred made after retiring hurt to a troublesome back with a broken heart and severely limited technique. It was classic Clarke in strength of character, but not by any means vintage Clarke in aesthetic.

Captain-in-waiting Smith made a century with Clarke and celebrated calmly, creating everlasting of raising his bat to the sky while standing on the grass-painted 408 – Hughes’ test number – on the Adelaide Oval. Clarke could barely walk through the two runs that took him past three figures, but his face as he accepted the applause of the Adelaide crowd spoke volumes.

His greater reward would be lofting the 2015 Cricket World Cup in his own backyard; all the while his own countrymen continued to vulture his and his teammates’ shortcomings.

Captains of sports teams will be forever remembered by their legacy they left behind. For all the shortcomings that Clarke may have had playing beneath former teammates, the teammates he led well have the enduring memory of Clarke as the leader when all around collapsed.

To think any less is to fall in line with society’s view that our judgement of people can be subjective to individual wants and needs, plus Australia’s tall-poppy syndrome and eager search for the negative.

Tonight, Australia will officially hand over the Ashes; Michael Clarke will hand in the captaincy, put down his Baggy Green and take off the black armband embroidered with the initials PH for the last time.

In the narrow view of things, Clarke will bow out on a winning note.

In the bigger picture, Clarke will bow out as a battler who fought every battle, on-field and off-field, in the search to be ‘great’ and the best he could possibly be.

To scale levels of ‘greatness’, and where the young 'Pup', turned battle-hardened old dog, sits will divide pub talk, couches and the Channel 9 cricket commentary team.

From the young kid that once wanted to be you, Michael: congratulations on what you wanted to achieve, sorry for what we thought you should have achieved, and thank you for what you did achieve.

Monday, 3 August 2015

A stranger's response to Kate's chronicles.


“Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

I don’t know Kate Harcourt.

You probably don’t know her either.

But I know her story. And if you don’t, I recommend you do.

Early December, Kate was a mother of three, a loving wife with boundless enthusiasm an endless passion for her children’s growth and nurturing, directing her to press pause on her teaching career.

It’s mid-July. Kate is still a mother of three, a loving wife and still possesses an endless passion for her children’s growth and nurturing.

But the boundless enthusiasm is a work in progress and teaching career is still on pause.

Plans for a trip to China have also been on hold, as Kate, back in December, felt ready to welcome 2015 with fresh hopes and aspirations.


On December 9, in the shower and mid-scrub, Kate’s world turned upside-down in the form of a lump beneath her right armpit.

Some questions in this world, you’ll never get answered; it’s answers to complex, too significant for our insignificant minds to process.

You just accept the sun means day and the moon and stars mean night.

You accept that a smile means joy and tears means it hurts. Most of the time.

I don’t accept cancer. I don’t accept that for all the villainous, unmotivated, hate-driven people in the world, it seems that it’s always the good ones who this infuriating disease seems to always infect.

But for this unwillingness to accept; stubbornness is quickly overshadowed by realism, much like Kate’s life became blanketed by a disease that is only superficially understood by the other half of men and other two thirds of women, who’ve been pigeonholed by statistics not to be affected by cancer.

It’s a word and a disease that sends a shiver down our spine before we investigate its aggressiveness, location and severity.

I remember sitting in the school theatrette in Year 12 and being numbed by my English teacher, Rosanna Comastri’s announcement that she had developed cancer.

I remember sitting in the Carlton Football Club theatrette just a year later when Sam Rowe forgot pre-planned jokes, and fought back tears to tell teammates – grown men he’d just met – that he’d development cancer.

Both Rosanna and Sam are alive and well. Rosanna has continued pursuing her passion for education and the spiritual development of young men and women. Sam is in the leadership group at Carlton and shies away from descriptions of being labelled ‘courageous’.

For something that I don’t have first-hand experience of – and I hope I never happen to – both of these two and, in my most recent observation, Kate, carry ‘courage’ in spades.

Three weeks following the confirmation of her worst fear, Kate put pen to paper. Not to wallow, not labour in self-despair, but to recall, and to give a helping hand.

Kate’s blog Cancer Cans is (currently) a blow-by-blow journal-like depiction of her eight-month journey of a woman who has witnessed hell and is passing through customs, on her way back to her normal life.

A keen writer with an eye for detail and a no-holds-barred excellence for description, Kate takes you on an expedition that is well-researched in its explanation, light-hearted in its prose, raw in its honesty and contains an open-endedness at the conclusion of each blog post that leaves you wanting more.

It’s not the voyeuristic curiosity of an audience reading Confidential, it’s Kate’s ability to bring the audience into her world where the reader is taken through every road bump and every minor celebration. Each experience carrying as much weight as the next.

Almost 16,000 Australians – men and women – have been diagnosed with breast cancer already in 2015, with a six per cent figure losing their battle.

Kate’s story could just as easily dissolve into the many other cases of the hideous disease. But it’s the want to vocalise the trials, tribulations, roadblocks and celebrations, plus the motivation to provide support for those who have suffered a similar fate – in first- or second-hand experience – that makes her tale stand out.

Just as momentous is the establishment of the charity in her name, Something For Kate – a not-for-profit foundation set up by school friends with the backing of independent brands, the National Breast Cancer Foundation and Australian singer-songwriter, Kate Cebrano.

The foundation was set up at the beginning of this year by Kate’s school friends, empowered to raise funds for the support of her family and the contribution to funding research for breast cancer.

In a week where human compassion was tested on a national scale, no such doubts could be raised over the values of Kate’s support network.

On Sunday 11 October, Something For Kate will come together for gala fundraising luncheon.

Kate’s latest blog posts detail the overwhelming emotion she feels at the deserved generosity being directed her away, as well as continuing to embark on her road to recovery involving doing the things that were taken away from her for the best part of six months.

The opening line to her last post – just as much as her story – poses an energising question to all of us who can feel rutted by this weathered path that is life: when was the last time you did something for the first time?

So Kate, from someone who does not know you, but knows your story, thank you.

This may not be on behalf of all breast cancer sufferers, but on behalf of someone who can feel like the world is against them from time to time.

It’s not over until it’s over, and for Kate – strong in character and articulate in her fight – ‘over’ is still a long way away.

The Something For Kate Gala Luncheon will be held at Maia waterfront restaurant, Central Pier Docklands on Sunday, October 11. Tickets include a live auction and live entertainment Kate Cebrano, plus a two-course lunch and three-hour beverage package. For full information on ticketing and the event, contact Rebecca 0405 099 938 or Kerry 0403 608 467.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Where the fuck are you, Tony?


I’m sure many of you have heard the phrase, ‘it starts from the top’.

Every man and his dog has had his or her say on the Adam Goodes debate from the bar down at the local, those who sit opposite you at the dinner table, commentators, fellow athletes to downright ‘pillocks’.

And yes I am looking at you Miranda, and Alan, and Rita, and Griffin (hideous name) and Jason. Surprised Dawn Fraser hasn’t found her way onto The Today Show as well…

Everyone’s had their say. All except one. And he’s a pretty notable one.

He’s the man that views living in remote Aboriginal communities as a “lifestyle choice” that Australian taxpayers shouldn’t have to subsidies.

He’s the man at the forefront of this egotistical fear that refugees are better off towed back to the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

He’s the man that presented Goodes with his Australian of the Year award just over six months ago.

Ringing any bells? Where the fuck are you, Tony?

The Closet Recluse will be the first to admit his knowledge of the political landscape is not one to be sought after for the latest university paper, however the month of May was a shocker for Abbott.

Unapologetically distancing himself from the Aboriginal community, his hubris that is his refusal to double-back over his inability to converse in unscripted conversation has provided further examination in recent times appropriating our societal argument that Australia is a racist nation.

The Closet Recluse is hesitant to join the chorus of labelling Australia a racist country, in much the same way that there were shouts of Islam as an extremist-terroris treligion almost 10 months ago.

In the growing age of digital and free media, it is the longevity and duration of the behaviour of booing Adam Goodes that is arguably uglier than the act itself. One cannot recall such divide on a sporting issue that has segregated social media forums, bar-stool banter and dinner-table conversation as we seem to have meta-morphed both sides of the coin into two tennis players hitting perfectly-executed forehands from opposing sides of different tennis courts.

As Tim Minchin said to a graduating Arts class at the University of Western Australia once: “Be hard on your opinions. After all, opinions are like arseholes – everyone’s got one.”

He would go on to say that opinions could somewhat significantly from arseholes in that yours should be closely and thoroughly examined.

I have spoken to, listened to, and sought the opinion of good people who adamant racism is alive and well.

I have also spoken to, listened to, and sought the opinion of good people who are hesitant to weigh in to the debate, for fear of being labelled a racist.

For want of a better word, the argument has appeared distinctively – and perhaps, rightfully – black and white.

First and foremost, people are angry.

While not in agreement, but attentive by way of understanding, there are those who are angry because they feel they are being judged by a Rene Descartes-like philosophy of “I boo, therefore I am a racist”.

Daniel Harford on SEN put it this way on Wednesday: “What I have understood very clearly over the last few weeks is that sport fans don’t like being told what to do or how to behave as sport fans, particularly when they feel like they haven’t done anything wrong.”

The systemic behaviour ‘Harf’ alludes to, can be referenced back to Genesis when Eve ate the fruit God told her not to eat. Curiosity and risk is as autonomous in human make-up as indifference. By now, it’s quite blatantly clear that hate and love are developed characteristics, requiring constant attention yet influenced by their surrounding environment.

But for people who fall on this side of the coin, please know that this is not okay. This is not right. This is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. This is certainly not sound justification.

Granted ‘booing’ has been a part of sport for a long time. But behind ‘booing’, there is always a context.

Adam Goodes has not changed clubs, chased money, fucked a teammates’ wife or murdered a member of his family.

The treatment of Adam Goodes has been high-profile and very public bullying.

I’m sure in school many of you also learned that standing by and watching the bullying take place is just as bad as the bullying itself. This can certainly be referenced to ‘booing’.

While you, the boo-er, mightn’t use words like ‘ape’ or phrases like ‘get back to the zoo’, you’re participating in an activity that has race and derogatory origins. You’re not putting him off his game; you’re putting him off THE game.

Australian Rules football is in a very real actuality that Goodes will leave the game with the sweetness of a packet of Sour War Heads confectionery.

Unfortunately, Goodes has become the pawn on a chessboard between two kings with dichotomous representations of their differing agendas, refusing to let pawn be.

No one’s perfect – even Chris Judd had his flaws, which TCR felt compelled to look past.

But this latest issue has become a pretty clear-cut case of what Sue says about Sally, says more about Sue than it does Sally.

In this case, it is about what Tony Abbot hasn’t been able to say. And the silence is deafening.

To have schooled at Riverview College – the same as Abbott – leaves me disgusted that someone who learned the equivocal values I did in their formative years has been cast to the wayside.

Where Australia has needed leadership and direction, all we have found is a patron.

Where Australia has needed education and reconciliation, all we have found is a disciple to the darker values of our country’s history.

Where Australia has needed the Prime Minister to stand up, all I’ve found is a diminutive, smug, weak little man who I wouldn’t trust to walk my dog.

All I have found, Miranda, is a fucking ‘pillock’.

And that’s the most disappointing thing of all.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Short-term gain for long-term pain.


How far are YOU willing to go?
 
I don’t know if they had them in your classrooms at high school. Those posters.

How much are YOU willing to sacrifice?

It was usually an A3-sized print with a capitalised, bold-font caption, beneath an image of a 100-metre sprinter pushing his head in front of his competitors at the finish line. Or a squirrel dragging a nut twice its size. Or a shadowed figure alone on his college basketball court, hands on knees, sweat dripping from him.

What would YOU give up?

It was the latter of those that got to me. It was usually partnered with the line, “A champion is an athlete who succeeds when no one else is looking.”

If YOU fail, try again…
If YOU fail, try AGAIN…
If YOU FAIL-

If I could fucking rip those posters off the wall now, I would.

On Friday, a man’s narrow, possessive, dichotomous pursuit for excellence and success, left him dead at the hands of his son’s torture of being the sacrificial lamb.

Drug-induced, mind-altered motives borne out of hatred. It’s the wonderment of where did it all go so wrong that, for mine, is the bigger tragedy than the fact that Phil Walsh is no longer with us on Earth.

22 years on this planet has taught me the notion of love is often the devotion to your other, sometimes to the detriment of one’s own better health.

I envision that when that love extends to a responsibility like parenthood, the gap between better judgement and biased piety can be cataclysmic. A drive to ensure that your offspring are born, raised and grow up in circumstances better than you, the provider, experienced yourself.

But in the most heinous of circumstances, ambition meets individualism with fatal consequences.

To pigeon-hole such ambitions to the sporting sector would be flippant – my own parents, medical professionals, had let their work dictate their life for the opening eight years of my own. But, it is easy to witness the link.

Sporting coaches are dichotomous creatures; teachers to the players, yet students to the sport.

It consumes them – the desire to be better, and then be the best. At what cost?

The blinkers are up; whether it’s researching the analogies and parallels that Japenese linguistics might align with the sport. A sport (and a job) that’s already taken up 70 hours of your week before you’ve factored in time to sleep and exercise and eat.

Society has foiled into an instantaneous web of results-based focus. No one will stand up and clap for how many hours have gone in, as long as the outcome is positive.

No one, except the people who love you, and whom you are, in turn, supposed to love.

Does the nature for you, the consumed individual, to busy yourself with priorities and to-do lists, numb you to the collateral damage your absence as a father, mother, role model might incur?

To be civil: think of the children!

You only needed to watch the Channel Seven half time feature on interim Carlton coach John Barker last Saturday night. His eldest daughter, not much older than the same age I was when my parents decided to ascertain the life balance between provider and parent.

He’s good, but he’s away for most of the day, which is a bit annoying.

Charli Barker is the innocent version of Cy Walsh. Only actions differentiate them. Quite substantially, too, obviously.

The Walsh family case is extreme, but will it be the platform for which a lesson can be learnt?

There are elite sporting level coaches in the current environment today with callous, fractured and possibly unrepairable relationships with their children.

It is the fractured ones that have seen children bear the brunt of their parent’s singular initiative, but they dare not speak up. They dare not hurt feelings.

They dare not finger point; citing marriage and family breakdowns and laying great effect. Is this in turn the part where the ‘affected generation’ look to their kin, determined to provide them a better childhood than the one they were offered.

So what lessons will be learned from Phil Walsh being stabbed to death by his own son?

Friday was sad, tragic, but will live on very vividly for every Australian who woke up, fumbled for their phone or tablet and read the fateful, chilling headline.

I can only imagine the playback of horror for Meredith Walsh as she witnessed the ordeal unfold, or to Quinn – who is my age – who had heard the news second-hand. And of course, what next for Cy.

In this competitive world, supported by the theoretical parameters of ‘survival of the fittest’ in a physical, social and professional landscape, the desire to succeed and willingness to win will remain prevalent.

But ‘win’ what, in the great race of life…