Making space for Pav


Pav picked me up on Friday for the drive to Mandurah and we didn’t say much for a while. Then when we got onto Forrest Highway he said: “Well Frankie this is where it all started and this will be our last drive to Rushton Park together.”

I looked at Pav with my good eye in a way that said, “You’re pretty confident for an old fella – are you sure one of us won’t be playing for Peel Thunder this year?” He just smiled and ruffled my beard.

It seems like only yesterday that my AFL career began with a NAB game against the puppies from Footscray down at Mandurah and this time I was back in Pav’s car for a game with the cubs from Richmond.

With my eye trouble and Pav’s age issues we both know this will be our last season in the AFL – our mood was so much different that day back in 2013 when I was on my way to my first game and Pav was excited about the arrival of his daughter Harper.

We needed something to lighten the mood.

“Did you see that Harper Lee died?” Pav said.

We were quiet again up until the Windich Bridge when Pav put on some music. It was Bruce, my favourite….

My name is Joe Roberts I work for the state 

I’m a sergeant out of Perrineville barracks number eight 

I always done an honest job as honest as I could 

I got a brother named Franky and Franky ain’t no good…

I gave a bit of a shrug and nestled down into the seat. We took the Mandjoogoordap Drive exit and drove on in silence. Pav got a good parking spot, we signed a few autographs and went in to prepare for the game.

Ross is so relaxed this year that I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d addressed us with a stubby in his hand. Son Son was gonna spend more time in the midfield, Fyfey would sit out the first half, Mayney failed the concussion test: who’s our captain? “Mundy” what day is it: “Mundy” and Ballas wanted to play on his wing. My job was to create space and I knew just how to do it…


I thought up this plan over the summer by combining two of my favourite things – reading and going to the beach. In a Spalding Gray book I was reading he tells a story about a traveling salesman who goes to a hotel and the hotel guy says there’s no rooms. Well there is one room on the top floor but the window is broken and it’s full of flies, every kind of fly you could think of – so you wouldn’t be able to sleep there. “I’ll take it,” says the salesman. In the morning he comes down all rested and the hotel guy asks how he managed to sleep in that fly-filled room. The salesman says he just bunched the flies. Of course the hotel guy wants to know how you can bunch flies and the salesman says, “I did a shit in the corner of the room and all the flies bunched there.”

This made me think of South Beach. Some mums and dads don’t pick up after their dog does a poo at the beach or in the park. (My dad does, you could say he’s anal about it, I love doing a poo in the park when it’s getting dark and then watching him search for it.) What I’ve noticed down at the beach is that when there’s a poo on the sand no one wants to sit near it – it’s kind of the opposite to bunching and shows a big difference between humans and flies. I don’t mind the smell of poo but I like humans more than flies.

I’m sure by now you’re been able to work out my plan for creating space in the forward line. I told Pav during the warm-up and he liked the idea. During the game people couldn’t believe how much space Pav got and he kicked four goals. “He’s a wily old dog,” I heard someone say.

On our way out of the rooms we heard Ballas on the phone, “I done a hammy and I’ve got dog shit all over my boots…” Me and Pav giggled all the way to the car.

On the way home we talked and talked*.

About how much we enjoy footy.

About space.

About Pav’s book that I’ve just started reading (luckily).

About family.

But every time we tried to talk about poo we just giggled.

*Dogs can’t talk but they can communicate.


Click on the link to read about our last trip to Mandurah…

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