It’s Origin time! The beer’s chilled, the phone disconnected, and my sacred 1995 Origin jersey, well, apparently one of my daughters ‘borrowed’ it to wear at Sydney Stadium tonight. Hopefully it will be returned in one piece, minus any blood stains or bullet holes.
And before the game, I like to reminisce about the two greatest footballers I ever saw play in the boyhood arena of Backyard Footy.
The first was Vito, the son of Italian immigrants, who we nicknamed ‘Vito Brits’ after our brekkie cereal. At the age of fourteen, Brits stood six feet tall, sported a full beard and was a bit psychopathic about winning. Survivors still recall the day Brits turned a friendly game of dominos into a full contact sport.
Then there was a lad from Burma who was so small he looked like a kindy kid who had strayed into our footy game. His name was too hard to pronounce so we nicknamed him Polly; and he eventually started answering to it.
Now, Polly only ever got tackled once; unfortunately by Brits. As soon as he got out of hospital, we wheeled him straight out to the backyard, plunked a ball under his arm, then undid the lock on Brits’ cage.
Screaming for mercy, Polly raced around the yard sixteen times, pursued by a howling Brits, until eventually Brits gave up and wandered off to head-butt a fence post.
It didn’t take long for Brits, and the worlds’ fastest Burman, to turn our little team into the terror of neighbourhood footy games. And the two of them became as dinky-di as Vegemite™ used to be before the Yanks bought the company.
Eventually Polly moved away to a slightly less violent place (the Middle East), and Brits is sadly no longer with us. But tonight, in a lounge-room in Gladstone, they are fondly remembered by their old backyard teammate who still misses them; and his ’95 Origin jersey.