February 28, 2018 by writehandman.com.au
We had drunk like Romans (with all due respect to any Romans who may read this). Late in the night, it was time to go and talk to some NRL LEGENDS.
Nathan Hindmarsh – a great of the game, NSW Blues luminary and one of my all-time favourites (despite him playing for Parramatta, the nemesis of any Manly fan). I tried to catch him after he stepped off stage, but gee for a man who never won a Grand Final, he certainly can move with the speed of a startled gazelle. He must have needed to be somewhere in a hurry, because he easily out-maneuvered me in my condition.
Last Thursday I was at a Hogs For The Homeless fundraiser at Terry Hills, run by ex-NRL players for Youth Off The Streets by riding their Harley-Davidson’s around country areas (https://www.nswrl.com.au/community/hogs-for-the-homeless/). A superb charity.
They don’t come any higher on the “legend” totem pole, than Brad “Freddy” Fittler. Most capped player for the Blues, captain of Australia and newly appointed Blues head coach! My brother and I, as well as three great blokes from our table (who I hadn’t met before), went up to him for a photo.
Possibly second only to Freddy, from an obsessed Blues fan’s perspective, is the amazing Danny Buderus. A phenomenal player who still looks like he’s been bench-pressing his Harley, not riding it.
Danny walked out to the car park to leave. I went racing after him, but him still being as fit as all hell and me, not so much, by the time I had covered about 5m (and stumbled), he was 50m away. I had to call out.
He was a long way away and my brother and I were two drunk lads, so I expected the old SORRY BOYS. GOT TO GO. But he didn’t. Like an absolute legend he ran back to us, we congratulated him on his appointment as Blues assistant coach and thanked him.
You know what he said?
“Anything for Blues fans.”
MY TYPE OF GUY. Perfect selection for assistant coach.
Then it was back to the bar. And who happened to be standing all on his lonesome? Just Brad “Freddy” Fittler.
My time to shine.
In my memory the conversation went something like this.
Me – “Freddy! Have a chat?”
Freddy – “The day people stop wanting to have a chat my friend, is the day I lose my job.”
Me – “All right Freddy, I think you need help with some Blues selections.”
Freddy – “Oh.” His keenness seemed to wane.
Me – “First of all Freddy, Jarryd Hayne is on notice! If he’s playing brilliantly, he’s in. If not, he’s out!”
Freddy – “Gottcha.”
Then I went on to list out a few players who definitely should be in the team.
Me – “Dylan Walker deserves another chance. Both Jake and Tommy Trbojevic are absolute musts. I think you should probably look at a young, tough player like Curtis Sironen maybe.”
Freddy – “Hang on! THEY’RE ALL MANLY PLAYERS.”
Me – “Ahhh, yes you’re right…. Well I suppose my ideas on Darcy Lusic and Frank Winterstein are a bit moot then.”
Then I went on to discuss others and their relative merits. Freddy, was absolutely brilliant and stayed for at least ten minutes, listening intently. He didn’t have to.
Me – “Freddy, shouldn’t you be writing these ideas down?”
Freddy (tapping his head) – “It’s alllll up here mate.”
Me – “Just like a great coach.”
Freddy – “Thanks mate.”
In all the excitement, I drunkenly spilled a little of my beer.
Me – “Whoa whoa”, I yelled to my beer.
Me – “Freddy it’s funny, with you being a megastar, I was hesitant to come over and give you my selection theories, because obviously you must have at least 20-30% more NRL knowledge than me.”
My brother – “You were not hesitant!”
Freddy – “20-30%?”
Me – “Yes, but then I thought to myself stuff it, right at this particular moment being the NEWLY appointed coach, you haven’t actually selected any more Blues teams than I have. So from that regard, we are on a par. Currently anyway.”
He was patient.
Freddy – “Ok mate, what are we going to do in the halves?”
I thought it unlikely, but just in case Freddy wasn’t getting as much out of our conversation as I was, I looked for a way to give him a rap.
Me – “Well Mitchell Pearce is a good half-back? But the problem is that a good half-back, needs a great five-eight to pass the ball to and let him make most of the decisions. And we haven’t had a great five-eight since… well since you Freddy.” I slapped him on the chest.
Freddy – “I’m happy to get a mention.”
For another few minutes I espoused my selection ideas and Freddy listened intently. Then…
Brad “Freddy” Fittler, one of my all-time hero’s, put his arm around my shoulders.
Freddy – “How about this mate? Give me your mobile number, then in May, when I am choosing the team with Danny, I’ll give you a ring and we’ll sit down and talk about selections.”
I was speechless.
Then with a nod and a simple “cheers boys”, Freddy turned, walked out the door, got on his Harley and rode off…
…without my phone number.
With great men like Danny Buderus and Freddy Fittler in charge of the Blues, we cannot lose.
GO THE BLUES.
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