Football Diary – Part 5

2017 – A Year in the Life…. (cont…)

 

Wednesday 5 July Vic Metro vs Allies at Kadinia Park

So yep, he’s in.

Starting on the ground, and playing down back.

Has been told to not be afraid to take it on; be more attacking.

Good, although I’m not sure how much opportunity he’ll get against a side that hasn’t won a game…..

We leave home at 9.45am to drop him in at Carlton, so they can get the bus down.

Lisa and I continue on our way.

It’s at this point I realise that I don’t really want to be doing this.

I actually wish he wasn’t playing today.

For the first time in his football career, apart from one or two games against really feral opponents, I don’t want to be going off to watch him play football.

It both surprises and concerns me.

We get to Geelong and head to the waterfront for a walk, before going to the ground.  We have plenty of time.

Arriving at the ground we head to the one gate that is open.  Which happens to be on the opposite side of the ground we are parked on.

Gate isn’t open yet, so we stand around for a bit.  Lisa sees an employee on the other side of the fence and asks her what time the gates open.

1.30pm!

It’s now 12.45pm.

Did I mention I didn’t really want to be doing this…..???

Anyway, the game.

Metro dominated the first quarter.  Just seemed so much more polished than the Allies, and whatever they were doing, they just seemed to be doing it so much easier.

But at quarter time, they were just a goal up.

Hmmm…..

The rest of the game was just….., I don’t know….., frustrating.

Actually, disappointing.

Actually, it was just crap.

Always seemed to be playing catch up.

Although, you never actually thought they were going to lose.  That at some point they would click, and while it would be a long way from their best win, they would in fact win.

They didn’t.

They didn’t click, and they didn’t win.

They looked, and played, like a team that had already won the Championships.

Which they had.

They also looked like a team that was playing for themselves.

Which is kind of the way they’d played the previous two games.

Yep, the “U18 Look at me Championships”….

And how’d he go?

He was alright.

Actually, he was much better than his previous two games.

But then again, he wasn’t coming off a terribly high base.

Again, there were a few times he didn’t get used, but by now, that’s kind of expected.

He didn’t get a great deal of help down back, and really, with the size of their forward line, they needed all the help they could get.

But hey, working hard defensively is nowhere near as glamorous as running with the ball…..

So yeah, not a bad game, but certainly not a great game.

Well, it won’t be acknowledged by anyone.

The carnival overall?

They didn’t do him any favours.

He didn’t do himself any favours.

And in all honesty, the way I feel now, he would have been better off not making it.

I actually think he’s now further back in calculations, than where he was before the carnival started.

I hope I’m wrong……

 

Saturday 15 July

Not so much about anything that happened today, but more about what’s happened since the Allies game.

He went and got a tattoo.

Just a small one, but one that obviously means a lot to him.

It’s his Nana’s birth date in Roman numerals.  She passed away back in 2009 when he was just ten.

He obviously thinks about her a fair bit, which is nice.  And that means a fair bit to me, as she was my Mum.

I’m just spewing she’s not here to see where he’s got to, because she’d be loving the whole thing.

Unlike me, who’s not really loving it at the moment.

His attitude is making him a little bit difficult to be around.

Perhaps it’s his frustration at how his footy is going.  Perhaps he thinks his ‘dream’ is starting to slip away.

I don’t know.  I could ask him, but I’d more than likely get nothing.

He just doesn’t want to talk football with me.

I ask him about the team when he gets home after training; I get one or two words and a grunt.

I ask him how his meeting with the Sydney Swans went; it’s like trying to dig a hole with a toothpick.

He doesn’t seem to understand how important all this is to us.  Even though we’ve invested so much time into this journey he’s on, he doesn’t seem to think we need to know what’s going on.

Yep, the whole year is now becoming anything but enjoyable.

On the Saturday night, just as he’s going to bed before the game against Greater Western Victoria, I bring up the game.

Just a quick comment about what I think he needs to do.  And it’s nothing major; just a comment about being a little more selfish by backing himself and taking the game on a bit more.

Rather than following his first instinct to spoil, actually back himself and try and take the mark.  A bit like one of his team mates.

His response to that is that this particular team mate can do that, as he is a really good footballer.

And he is, but he’s not better than him.

I’m now pissed off.  He’s now decided that a defeatist attitude is his thing.

I count to ten and then head to his room to discuss some things with him.

Well, it’s not really a discussion, because that would involve both of us talking.  And I’m not interested in what he has to say.

As far as I’m concerned, he can do the listening.

Discussion had, I head back to my seat to continue my ‘pissed off’ feeling.

 

Sunday 16 July Round 13, Greater Western Victoria at Ballarat

Up early so we can leave by 9.00am to ensure we’re in Ballarat by 11.00am.

Ballarat’s forecast is a balmy 8°C and windy.

Great…..

My other problem, is that I don’t actually want to go.

I don’t want to see him play football anymore.

And this annoys, and worries, the hell out of me.

It’s sad.

Yep, first world problems and all that, but I can’t help the way I feel.

Speaking to a few dads at the ground about the whole process doesn’t help me.

After so looking forward to this year, I’m really looking forward to it all being over.

It’s not just one thing, but several.

Yep, first world problems….

So, that forecast.

Unfortunately, they were just a little too accurate.

And the wind had far more of an impact on the game than you would like.

Only four points in it at halftime.  That’s not what I was expecting.

The third quarter changed everything, however.

Eight goals to one will do that.

And the boy?

Yeah, he was alright.

Playing on a half back flank he was able to push up the ground a bit more.  Did some good things without being outstanding.

Unfortunately, his game was done at three quarter time.  Just as the siren went he was tackled quite heavily and ended up with a calf issue.

Not sure if it’s a strain or just a corky.

Fortunately, there’s no game next week, so he’ll have a couple of weeks to get over it.

But then again, who knows what the rollercoaster has in store…..

 

Monday 17 July

Low grade calf tear, apparently.  Out for three weeks.

Which, all going well, and because of a bye next week, should mean he only misses one game.

I’m not pinning my hopes on that, but just hoping that’s all it is.

What will be, will be…..

 

Tuesday 18 July

I’ve not read back over what I’ve written, so far.

I don’t want to.

Apart from the fact that it’s now up over 12 000 words, I would prefer to just write as I see it at the time.

If I’ve repeated stuff, or it’s changed significantly in the way it’s written, well, that’s just the way it is.

We’ll just say it’s evolving.

I didn’t sleep well last night; mind was too busy.

Mainly thinking about him, and where this is all going.

It’s amazing how magnified things are at 3.00am.

The injury doesn’t overly concern me.  It should just mean one missed game.  Maybe two.

But, there is only five games left.  Plus finals, but that could be anything from one to three games.

The end of the season is fast approaching, which means there’s not a lot of time left to make an impression.

And I’m not sure he’s done that.  Or made enough of one.

I think there are others that have passed him by, and I’m not convinced that he’s up for the challenge.

I don’t know whether he thinks it’s just going to happen; I don’t think that’s the case; or whether he’s just not capable of taking it to the next level.

Maybe he’s not as good as what people have thought he is.

Maybe he just doesn’t want it bad enough.

My opinion at the moment, is it’s the latter.

I think he wants it, but I’m not convinced he has the absolute burning desire to make it happen.

If he doesn’t, or can’t, lift for these last few games, well that’s something he’ll have to live with.

If he has no problem doing that, then that is fine.

I just hope he doesn’t end up with a whole lot of regrets and ‘what ifs’.

The fact that, apart from a couple of brief chats with a handful of recruiters at the Vic Metro testing / combine day, and the chat with Sydney last week, there haven’t been any other requests for meetings, isn’t helping my feelings at the moment.

The other thing that I’ve noticed over the last few weeks is that the number of people asking me how he’s going, or just simply wanted to talk to me about him, has diminished.

Am I reading too much into that?

I don’t know.

Maybe I just haven’t seen those people that are that interested???

Again, not sure.

But if that is actually the case, then part of me wants to tell them, “I told you so!”

But another part also wants to tell them, “Thanks for getting me so excited about his chances, you pricks!”

In a bit of desperation, without Riley’s knowledge, I spoke to his manager today in the hope that he may be able to spark something in him.

He will speak to him tomorrow.

At the moment, I hold out very little hope that his name will be read out in November.

 

Wednesday 19 July

His manager phoned him.

“He knew about my calf.  Someone must have told him”, he says.

“Really?”, I say……

Anyway, apparently it’s not really a bad time to do it, as all the private school kids don’t play the next few weeks.  And because of that, there won’t be as many watching.

Hmmm, we turning anything, and everything, into positives?

His manager is going to speak to his coach about getting him to play him up forward.

Someone from St Kilda has said that they want to see him play there.

I’ve talked about pinning hopes on things before.

I’m not even going to bother this time.

And the reason?

Well, and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before; I am of the firm belief that his coach is all about winning games.

And for the record, I have no problem with wanting to win games.

But that is not the point of the TAC Cup competition.

It’s about getting kids drafted.

What do you reckon a TAC Club would prefer?

A Premiership and two of their kids drafted?

Or a competitive year where you play a finals game, and get eight of your kids into the big time?

As far as I’m aware, you don’t get money for winning the comp.

But you do for each kid you get drafted.

So yeah, confidence in any positional change being made is pretty low.

Even his manager, who hasn’t said too much, doesn’t seem overly confident.

Oh well, got a couple of weeks to twiddle thumbs now, so that will make for a fun time…..

 

Wednesday 26 July

First off, that ‘miss one game’ thing, is now more likely to be two games.

So that leaves him with three games left, plus finals.

Now to today.

Announcement of invitees to the National Combine.

You need five clubs to nominate you.

He didn’t get five.

I have no idea how many showed interest, so it was something between none and four.

At the moment, I reckon it’s probably closer to none.

He rang me from trade school and told me the news.

He sounded disappointed; as you would be; but also said he didn’t really expect to get an invite.

I hope this is the wake up call.  And I hope it hurts.

If it doesn’t hurt, and I mean a lot, then it’s essentially done.

I actually didn’t expect him to get an invite; I wouldn’t put his name up on his efforts of the last six weeks or so; and in a lot of ways I would have been concerned.

Rewarding mediocrity; all too easy; just going to happen; type of thing.

And while I know that not being invited to the combine isn’t the death knell, it certainly feels like it at the moment.

I feel like I want to blame someone.

And there’s probably a few I could.  But really, what’s the point…..

In the end it’s up to him

I’ve been telling him for the last month or two that it was time to step up; that this whole thing is fast coming to an end.

And that’s the one certainty, it will come to an end.

The only unknown is whether it will be a good end, or a not so good end.

That will be his choice, and as far as I’m concerned, there are now no more excuses.

He needs to make these final few games all about himself.

Just like every other kid seems to have been doing.

So, anyway, it’s now going to be up to him.

 

Monday 31 July

No, nothing of note has happened.

This is just a ‘gut feeling’, type of thing.

It’s been two weeks since his calf injury.  There’s still another three weeks, all going well, till he plays again.

Over the last two weeks he’s seemed happy.  Happier than I thought he should have been, considering everything.

He hasn’t really talked about footy; not that he usually does anyway; and he doesn’t seem to be terribly frustrated about not being able to play.

That, along with a few little fairly insignificant comments that he’s made over this time, has me thinking that he’s really not missing it at all.

It also has me thinking that it’s not that important to him.

Which, if my hunch is right, means that he just doesn’t want it bad enough.

He’d obviously take it if it was offered, but I don’t think he’ll be that fussed if it doesn’t come his way.

Interestingly, if I’m right, I feel the pressure is off.

Because if I am right, then there is very little I can do to ‘get him up’.

When the time comes I’ll certainly be trying, but really, if he doesn’t want it, nothing I say is going to make much difference.

Anyway, in less than two months the season will be over.

I’m looking forward to that.

 

Saturday 5 August

He went off to watch Oakleigh play Western at Williamstown.  In what was a game that they would have been odds on favourites to win, they ended up losing by a goal.

A few fairly big ‘outs’, didn’t help, but really, they should never have lost it.

Interesting to see the reaction from the powers that be, for the next game.

He saw the physio on Wednesday, and the calf issue seems to be coming along ok.  Although he did mention that he wasn’t a certainty to be back for the third last game.

Knowing how conservative he is, I wasn’t surprised that he said that.

Oh well, what will be, will be.

I’ve had no control over anything this year, why would this be any different….

He headed out Saturday night with some friends, and about 10 minutes after he left he text me.

“Oh, forgot to tell you, I’m getting an invite to the State combine.  They told me this morning at the game”.

I would have thought that that was fairly significant news.  And that he would be pretty happy, as well as relieved, to find out that.

How it didn’t enter his mind at some point during the afternoon while he was home, is kind of surprising.

Then again, perhaps it’s not…..

 

9 August Vic Metro Presentation Night

He doesn’t want to go.  Not really sure why; tired or something.

I don’t really want to go either, but being the shit dad that I am, I make him.

I drive, and decide we may have a bit of a chat.

Work shits him and he wants to leave.

Not going to happen.

Say all the right things, and then ask him what his dream job is.

Football player!

Good, now you just have to make it work.

He seems to listen.  That is good, too.  And surprising….

We get through the night and head home.

I try to engage again; mainly about what the Metro coach has said he needs to improve; and we chat for a bit.

Well, it’s mainly me doing the talking.

We get close to home and he cracks it.

“I’m sick of talking about it!, he says.

Fine!

During our conversations though, he did say that he really wants this.

We’ll find out how bad, in the next few weeks…..

 

To be continued…

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