Tuesday, September 07, 2010

#209: Solid Rock

It’s that time of the year when a young man’s fancy turns to the finals season and a young woman’s fancy turns to crap like Ikea or shoe shopping. I don’t know which one is the bigger waste of time really, but there is something quite manic about going to the local football ground and screaming your tits off for a pack of guys kicking and chasing a ball around.

Personally I love it. In my time you could go to a game and see some absolute champions.  Players like Malcolm Blight, Russell Ebert, Greg Williams, Peter Motley, Paul Bagshaw, Barrie Robran - I could sit here for hours naming names, but the reality was that I used to wander down to Elizabeth Oval to watch Wilbur Wilson – a footballing God really. Wilbur was brilliant. He could take a stunning mark and kick a bag full of goals, but, much like any Aboriginal player of the era was subject to some of the vilest racial vilification that I’ve ever heard. This might come as no surprise, but it seemed to be worse whenever Centrals played Port. Each game would see a few punch-ups start up as the Wharfies always thought that they were superior to the Northern Swine, but the truth was that, although they beat us on the ground, off the ground was a totally different story.

Wilbur would take it all in his stride. He’d hear the abuse, shut it out and kick straight and true. To me it seemed that the more someone abused Wilbur the better he played and when he was on song, he was stunning, no questions abut it. He might not be recognised as being a superstar like a James Hird or a Wayne Carey, but Wilbur Wilson taught me more about sportsmanship than anyone else ever did. Unlike Wilbur I’m a fairly bad sport at the best of time, but much like Wilbur the more you abuse me, the better, and harder, I play and like Wilbur I only play to win. Plus Wilbur was good enough to be selected in the All Time Great Central team, and that's nothing to sneeze at.

Wherever you are Wilbur, know that you were a massive influence, not only Aboriginal kids, but also a skinny white boy growing up in the Downs.

Then I'd go home and know it was time to enter the land of nod because this guy would tell me, by virtue of pulling the sheets over his eyes. 

Where have you gone Wilbur Wilson?
A lonely nations turns it eyes to you.
What's that you say, Wilbur Wilson?
Fat Cat has left and gone away...
Say it ain't so, Joe....a generation cries out for both of you...

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