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THE MEANING OF EXISTENCE... AND OTHER SHORT STORIES

An open letter to the Tyabb Junior Football Club By Stuart McCullough I SHOULD have said something sooner. The enormity of the occasion was such that to have raised my concerns at the time would have seemed like nitpicking. Disrespectful, even. But the passage of years has lent a certain perspective. Things that were once unknowable have come in to sharp focus. It’s that clarity that leads me to write to you now, as I ask you to consider righting the most egregious of wrongs. You may not recall, but I played several seasons with the Tyabb Junior Football Club. Mostly I remember training two nights a week under the spotlights and heading off on Sunday mornings to play. We were always cold. Often we lost. There were matches when the margin of our defeat was so great that it resembled a phone number. Very occasionally, we tasted victory and it was even sweeter than the quarter time oranges. That these victories were the result of a misunderstanding on the part of the other team as to the location of the venue resulting in a forfeit mattered little. A win is a win. So long as they get your name right, that is. I took it all very seriously, even if my main skills were falling over and kicking into the man on the mark. I was, I feel, something of a specialist in this respect. However unorthodox my approach, I must have been doing something right because I was bestowed with the ‘Team Manager’s’ award on no fewer than four occasions. Back then I thought these were the first tentative steps towards even greater sporting glory: a Brownlow, a gold medal, perhaps my own line of sportswear. None of it came to pass. With the benefit of

time, I now know that my time playing for Tyabb is where I peaked. It has been, truth be told, downhill ever since. I know what you’re thinking. The ‘Team Manager’s’ Award is a fair way

off ‘Best and Fairest’. It’s the trophy considered by many, not least me, as the ‘thanks for coming anyway’ award. That I won this award on four occasions shows just how deeply the club

appreciated my willingness to make up the numbers despite a complete absence of any discernable talent for the game. Perhaps it was the nature of the honour itself that largely accounts for the resulting atrocity. The Club’s Best and Fairest/ Pie Night was always a big occasion. The first time I went, I recall feeling slightly awkward not just because of the uncertainty inherent in a gala event of this kind but also as the only nine year old in attendance to have worn a tuxedo. The ‘Team Manager’s’ Award came up early in the evening. Much as the award for ‘Best Make-Up: Eyeliner in a Foreign Film starring a Camel named Dennis’ is presented at the Oscars before the famous people have had a chance to plant their backsides in their seats, my name was announced as a crowd milled around the pie-warmer. Stumbling towards the stage, it’s a miracle that I didn’t resort to the skill that had served me so well throughout the home and away season and immediately fall over. I didn’t have a speech prepared. My decision to try and improvise a short poem cast a pall of silence over the crowd. Amidst the fug of awkwardness that followed, I failed to notice something of catastrophic significance. Had I not been so desperate to get off stage and resume my seat, I would have spotted that the ‘Team Manager’s’ trophy had been award to ‘Stewart’ rather than ‘Stuart’. It’s the kind of error that makes the whole ‘Moonlight versus La La Land’ shemozzle look like little more than a minor clerical error. It’s hard to tell someone that you value their contribution to the team – no matter how flawed

or prone to being overcome by gravity that contribution may be – if you don’t even know their name. The next time I won the award, the trophy was engraved with ‘S. McCullough’. I can respect that the organization decided to play it safe, but it still suggests some uncertainty as to how my name was spelled. The only way it could have been worse is if the award simply read ‘Give it to the guy that falls over all the time’. The third time I won, it should have been clear that something truly magnificent was occurring. It’s rare that someone can receive what is ostensibly an encouragement award several years in a row. That’s like winning ‘Best New Artist’ at the Grammys three times running. It’s simply unheard of. But despite this, the award was again given to ‘Stewart’. The fourth and final trophy again played it safe with ‘S. McCullough’. As a result, it means exactly half the trophies I’ve ever won, have the wrong on the name on them. I’d like to think it’s never too late. The Club can still right this most extreme of wrongs, by re-awarding the Team Manager’s trophies for 1982 and 1984 to the right person. It will be just like that Brownlow ceremony except in Tyabb and there will be pies. For my part, I’ll be gracious; avoiding a panicinspired impromptu poetry slam and have something resembling a speech at the ready. It’s time to set the record straight. I look forward to your earliest reply. Sincerely yours, Stewart Stuart McCullough P.S. Go Yabbies. stuart@stuartmccullough.com

WALK THE ROAD TOGETHER WITH TOMMY FLEMING The voice of Ireland is back. With over 6 million Youtube hits and 3 million+ album sales worldwide, a starring role in the critically acclaimed Irish musical Paddy, and the imminent release of his 14th album, there’s no slowing TOMMY FLEMING down as he sets forth to mark his long-awaited return to tour Australia. Coinciding with the release of Tommy’s new album, Walk The Road Together (released April 7 through ABC Music), the Irish singer/songwriter & actor will perform a run of shows down the East Coast through April/May. Renowned for his soaring vocals, heartfelt lyrics and captivating live performances, Fleming’s own take on Traditional Irish, Folk & Contemporary music has seen him become one of Ireland’s

biggest selling artists. Tommy’s previous three visits have seen him perform sell-out shows around the country (including Melbourne’s Hamer Hall & Sydney’s State Theatre with Elaine Paige), and he’s looking forward to performing for Australian audiences once more - “I always love coming back to Australia. I have long regarded Australia as a second home, I have performed on many stages around the world but stepping on stage for an Australian audience is always special, there’s an honesty and earthiness to the Australian audience that you don’t find anywhere else in the World.” Don’t miss Tommy Fleming at Frankston Arts Centre on Thursday 4th May. Tickets at www. thefac.com.au or call 03 9784 1060.

Saturday 8th April

Frankston Performing Arts Centre www.thefac.com.au / 03 9784 1060 /thebestoftheeagles

t he b est o f t he e agles.com.au Frankston Times 20 March 2017

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20 March 2017  

Frankston Times 20 March 2017

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