DK Lillee, the Jumbo Prince, and that Young Mum at the Checkout

abba

This boy bought some fried chicken. YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT!

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Ten ways Internet cat videos are making you a zombie!

We know social media can be a torrent of infantile noise. But I recently found a quiet raindrop in the form of a story.

The author was at a supermarket checkout, harassed by shopping and kids. Suburban drudgery. The English poet Philip Larkin might’ve been right in “Dockery and Son”

Life is first boredom, then fear.
Whether or not we use it, it goes

An elderly woman saw her frustration, and offered support before saying, “You know what? I loved being a mother, and enjoyed every minute.”

Enjoyed every minute? Really? Utter rubbish, the writer barked. Dwelling upon her experiences, she knew, of course, that parenting could be dreadful. Excruciating. But, in those reflective moments after the kids were asleep, she loved having parented.

Is this the defining distillation of adulthood? That life becomes gratifying only in retrospect. That we find our satisfaction in the past tense, in having transacted, having accomplished? For kids life is mostly present tense, as it should be. But moving from present to past is hard.

I remind myself to splash about in the moment.

*

My first SANFL game. I was at a friend’s when Dad picked me up late morning, and we went to the 1976 Grand Final at Footy Park between hot fancy Port and Sturt. The attendance was 66,897, but anecdotally, closer to eighty.

I was among the hundreds sitting on the grass, between the fence and the boundary. It was three and four deep, and arguably like sticking your kids on the roof of the XY Falcon while you drove interstate. But it wasn’t frightening; it was a Match Day Experience.

Sturt ruckman Rick Davies hypnotised me. The Jumbo Prince. He defeated Port and his performance yielded statistics that, forty years on, in this era of high disposals, are astonishing

21 kicks, 21 handballs, 15 marks and 21 hitouts.

At the siren, I scampered onto the ground, and patted Davies, a gigantic double-blue fridge. It was an IMAX moment alongside the coat-hanger-as-antennae B&W footage of my childhood.

The afternoon gave me much: league football, a big event, and the irresistible rush of crowds. In taking me from our little home, it painted a vivid vista of possibility.

Thanks, Dad.

*

On a searing Singaporean day, we watched the 2014 AFL Grand Final, and our seven year-old Alex is now on the Hawks. The Crows have plummeted to number two, and are mostly forgotten like all those number two songs on Countdown when Abba’s “Fernando” was top of the pops for fourteen weeks.

Do you remember, in the latter epoch of its reign when Molly decided to not show the whole video clip because the entire country was ill of its Eurovision-inspired confectionary and communicable melodies? “Fernando” had, in a Sunday night televisual sense, finally faced its Waterloo.

If Tex’s Crows are good enough they’ll give him some moments, and win him back. While Hawthorn keeps winning flags, Alex might never return. Happy with the Happy Team, he could be an Abba fan forever.

As a young fella, the boys’ cousin Dylan changed the team he supported three times in three seasons, until with wardrobe space, cash and patience running out, his mum threatened that she’d never buy him another footy jumper. He’s finally a loyal supporter. Mums have this power. And now he has the Power.

*

We’re at the scoreboard end. Like an Arctic ice floe, there’s foam eskies everywhere. I doubt any sunscreen was applied. Those droopy white hats, worn by Arthur Dunger on the Paul Hogan Show, flopped all about on that sloping hill.

My first Adelaide Oval experience was with Dad at an Ashes Test. It was Australia Day, 1975, after the first day washout. Our captain, Ian Chappell, was caught behind for a third-ball duck. His brother scraped to five. But feisty swinging from Jenner, Walker, Lillee and Mallett got us to three hundred, just shy of stumps.

It was nearly six, and the ground announcer confirmed the English openers Amiss and Lloyd would face two overs.

The first from DK Lillee.

The second from JR Thompson.

A pyroclastic flow of noise instantly buried the outer and the ancient grandstands named for Sir Edwin Smith and George Giffen. I was happily pulverised, and it was apocalyptic and baptismal.

With only eight deliveries each, Chappell unleashed both. Lillee, with his Hellenistic menace, and then Thompson’s Wild West gun slinging. Majesty and volatility, both presenting as terror.

The crowd commotion was now medieval village riot, the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park, and a rapidly unhinging Neapolitan wedding.

How could this not shape a small country boy? Thanks for this too, Dad.

That the batsmen survived mattered little. The next day Lillee took a wicket with the morning’s third ball, as he and Thompson seized seven victims. England was done.

*

These were my introductions to widescreen sport. How could I have had better? I can’t wait to offer Alex and Max this gift; this tormenting, ageless, rewarding gift.

It’s time for them to catch some moments of their own.

DK

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