Monday, April 16, 2012

#301: Dine Out At The Pizza Hut

What can anyone say about Grenville Dietrich that hasn't already been suppressed by the courts under defamation laws?  Well, quite a lot really.  I remember seeing Grenville line up for North Adelaide after sharing quite a few ales with him the night before at a nightclub owned by a guy who used race Speedway cars on Friday nights.  I say the night before, but I'm being quite kind here; we stopped drinking at around 5am, whereupon Grenville tried to chat my mother up and duly lined up for North Adelaide at around 1:30pm the same day.  He ambled out onto the ground, took his position, attacked the ball, kicked a goal and promptly spewed his guts up.  And they were quite considerable guts indeed.

Grenville got his start with Richmond, but ended up at North Adelaide.  Richmond were more than satisfied with the bald headed goal kicking machine that they had in the form of Kevin Bartlett, and, let's be frank here, once Kevin got the ball nobody else touched it into it was thrown back in from the stands.  Handball is still a swear word in the Bartlett house, so it made sense that Grenville would seek out better opportunities.  And opportunities there were.  Sobriety was a swear word in Deitrichland by the mid 1980s, and Grenville, smelling of piss and booze, was always able to kick a bagfull during a game, even if he did wobble on his feet a bit.  Be it Cobbs Restaurant or Regines Nightclub or the Gaza Clubrooms, Grenville was always welcome to wine, dine and grog on until he passed out.

Now before you think that Grenville was a dud, remember that he was coached by the legendary Mick Nunan.  As a coach Mick was unique - if he had a dud player then he'd make sure that they performed.  If he had a star player then he made sure that they played like a star.  Mick didn't really care what they did on the field, be it Andrew Jarman kissing guys or Grenville having a quiet ralph in the forward pocket, just as long as they did their magic and won the games.  Mick was hard, but fair - if I had to pick a coach to go into battle with, then it'd be Mick Nunan, every day of the week and twice on Sundays.  Mick copped a lot of stick for telling Grenville, mid-game, that he father had just died.  it might sound cruel, but in Mick's world a man deserves to know about such things as soon as they happen.  I agree with Mick there.  If Grenville had been coached by a lesser man then we'd not be here.  

Grenville may have weighed a lot, but it was pure fat.  When he slimmed down he injured himself, such was the disruption to his centre of gravity.  But his best injury came after training one fine night, when he rode his bike in his shorts to the local pizza shop, ordered two large with the lot and attempted to ride home.  Halfway there he went arse up and scalded himself with one of the surpremes.  Picking himself, and the pizzas, up, he went home, sat down and ate his way through the evening, only to discover that he'd not be able to play for a couple of weeks due to burns on his legs.  I've heard of players being taken out by dog bites, but pizza burns is the best of them all, and that's what makes Grenville unique - he did it his way, and nobody else could do what he could do.  And if they tried, then they more than likely would be in a jar by now.

Ladies and gentlemen, hide your children, cover your grog and eat your pizza, I give you the man of the hour, Grenville Deitrich!

Taken from an introduction given a the opening of the Prospect Pizza Hut.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

#299: Meet Dudley McDud

People often ask me, who was the King of the Duds when it comes to AFL.  Could it be Port Adelaide's Matthew Westoff?  Romano Negri? Could it be someone like David Gallagher, who was a dud at two clubs?  Or someone else?  Well, to that I say no, because those duds played the game at AFL level - even duds like Adam Saliba and Jim West played at least one game.  I hear you utter names like Trevor Clisby, who never played a game despite being on an AFL list, but he was only ever drafted by one club.

The King of all Duds has to surely be this guy - Darren Bartsch.  You may rightly ask who.  Bartsch was drafted by West Coast Eagles, but he stayed in Adelaide, conversely David Hynes, one of the best ruckmen that Port Adelaide produced in the 1980s, went over to the Eagles at the same time that Bartsch was drafted to be rewarded with a premiership medallion.  If, as is claimed, that grand finals are won and lost in the ruck, then Hynes was a better than decent pick-up for the Eagles (as an aside, if anyone suggests that Hynes was a dud, I'll happily wander over and basch some sense into your head).  However Bartsch was delisted without playing a game for the Eagles.  Geelong then picked him up, but he again stayed in Adelaide and never played a game for Geelong - you can see the pattern developing by now.  The Adelaide Crows then placed him on their inaugural playing list, which seemed to be a perfect fit - Bartsch could remain in Adelaide and not have to worry about travelling to play and train.  Oddly enough he didn't get a game there either and was duly delisted at the end of 1991.  Brisbane then drafted him in 1992, but again he stayed in Adelaide, never played a game and was delisted.  Essendon then drafted him in 1993, this time he travelled to Melbourne on Thursdays to train and play, returning to Adelaide on Sundays, much to Kevin Sheedy's amusement, but never played a senior game and was delisted.  He did star in the reserves though, for what it's worth.

By that stage he joined Port Adelaide with the view of getting onto the Power's list, but that never happened because he did his back.  Disillusioned with a system that had treated him so cruelly, he gave up the game and retired to become an off-field success. If you lost count I'll bring you back up to speed - five clubs drafted Darren and he failed to play a single AFL game.  It's a shame that Port didn't pick him up as that'd have made it an even six.

He now holds the dubious all time record of being drafted and never playing at AFL level, a record that is unlikely to ever be beaten, as these days a player gets two chances at the most. Ladies, gentlemen and ships at sea, I'd like you to meet Darren Bartsch - KING DUD.

The above text comes from an introduction that I gave at a function to auction off Bartsch's many never worn pristine condition AFL jumpers.  I am available to introduce anyone at a function, for a reasonable price - just email and ask.