We’d drunk like Romans (with all due respect to any Romans reading). It was late and time to go and talk to some NRL LEGENDS.
Last Thursday I was at a Hogs For The Homeless fundraiser, run by awesome ex-NRL players like Josh Perry, for Youth Off The Streets. 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, and three blokes from our table, went up for a photo.
Possibly second only to Freddy, from a Blues fan’s perspective, is the amazing Danny Buderus. A phenomenal player who 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 30m 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 assistant coach and thanked him.
You know what he said?
“Anything for Blues fans.”
LEGEND. Perfect selection.
Then back to the bar and who happened to be standing there all on his lonesome? Just Brad “Freddy” Fittler.
My time to shine.
In my memory the conversation went something like this.
Me – “Freddy! Can we have a chat?”
Freddy – “The day people stop wanting to have a chat my friend, is the day I lose my job.”
Me – “Freddy, I think you need help with some Blues selections.”
Freddy – “Oh.” His keenness seemed to wane.
Me – “First of all, 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.
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…. So 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) – “All 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 an NRL mega-star, I was hesitant to come over and give you my selection theories, because obviously you must have at least 20-25 percent more NRL knowledge than me.”
My brother – “You weren’t hesitant!”
Freddy – “20-25 percent?”
Me – “Yes, but then I thought 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 a good half-back, needs a great five-eighth to pass the ball to and let him make most of the decisions. And we haven’t had a great five-eighth 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’m choosing the team with Danny, I’ll give you a ring and we’ll sit down and talk 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.
Thanks for reading. I’ve put my heart and soul down in words, for you. Like a noble, armour-clad knight astride a powerful war-steed, in dogged pursuit of my elusive dream of being able to claim at parties much to my wife’s chagrin, that I am in fact… a writer.
If you could Share via the buttons below, that would be wonderful. Cheers. Jase.