John Harms NAB Cup Ramblings

The NAB Cup is evolving over time, and it has started to serve a few purposes. One is to introduce us to young whom we might only know as names in the Season Guide. The other is to show that a chartered flight to Wangaratta in the middle of a downpour is not a good travel plan. Which is the lead in to another purpose; footy gets to be played in unlikely places around the nation.

While this might make local councils and footy leagues and their curators a little nervous, it really does give a chance for people to host, in their own backyard, the best footballers in the land.

As long as they get to the municipality in question. Essendon’s misfortune in not being able to land at the Wang Aerodrome has been a PR disaster.

I suppose it doesn’t look great alongside carnivals in the Australian desert where sides travel for hundreds of kilometres along barely recognisable tracks to represent their communities. They pile a dozen or so blokes in the Toyota (which is what they call the four wheel drives in central Australia), pack some kangaroo tails, and drive only in the light of day. When the sun goes down they set up camp, light a fire, sleep, and continue on the next day.

I saw all this first-hand one time at Wanarn, many hours west of Uluru, out beyond the Northern Territory-West Australian border, where sides came from the tiniest and remotest of places. The footy was played on a red sand oval (huge) without a blade of grass on it by blokes in anything from two boots, one boot, one sock and bare feet. It was a carnival and when the sun went down the country-rock started. No booze. Everyone having a great time.

We make footy in our own image. The poor old Bombers.

In 1952 the VFL scheduled a round of matches in far-flung places: Sydney, Hobart, Albury, Yallourn and Euroa. The sixth match was filled with incident. To be played in Brisbane between Essendon and Geelong it was postponed due to torrential rain. What is it with Essendon and precipitation? The Bombers ended up winning it. This was to be Geelong’s last loss for over a season.

This week matches are being played at exotic places like Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast, Albury, North Ballarat, and of all places Victor Harbour. One wonders how Essendon would have chosen to travel from Windy Hill to Victor Harbour.

Port are playing Freo in a game of some consequence at Victor, because Freo are still a chance to play in the final.

The NAB ladder has taken shape with West Coast (who play St Kilda in Perth) and Adelaide (who play Collingwood at Footy Park) the two undefeated teams who control their own situations. Both will probably win.

But if the Pies go hard, and beat the Crows on Friday night, that means the door opens up to a few clubs, not the least of which is The Kittens. The young Cats, so impressive against the Gold Coast last week, play Richmond at Kardinia Park. Hence the bookies are treading very cautiously and seeing what happens in Adelaide first.

Melbourne are still in it, albeit a $67.00 chance to take it out. They have to perform against Hawthorn, and win by plenty, and hope other results go their way.

And Essendon? They’re off to Sydney. They have a pedicure booked in for Friday afternoon, and they’ll be practising blowing the tops off rice puddings as Saturday morning recovery at Bondi.

We make footy in our own image.

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