THE FOOTY world has been thrown another curve ball with Melbourne going into another lockdown. With all Melbourne based AFL teams scrambling to get out of Victoria, the code is fighting to keep the game on our screens and Yokayi Footy is doing its best to inform, educate and entertain.
It seems ironic that the classic AC/DC hit, It's a Long Way to the Top (if you wanna rock 'n roll) somewhat predicted the COVID curse. As AC/DC crawled down Melbourne's Swanston Street in early 1976 on a flat-bed truck, little did they know the lyric 'hotel/motel make you wanna cry' would be so salient to the Victorian clubs fleeing in 2020. Fremantle's finest, Bon Scott, would be chortling wheezily in his grave.
For some, the chance to get away to the Gold Coast spending weeks in a resort is perhaps one's idea of a holiday. But the reality is for the players and their families the hubs will make for anything but.
Touching on the debacle that was the Crows' 2018 pre-season camp, Yokayi Footy hosts Bianca Hunt and Tony Armstrong were joined by Andrew Krakouer and Darryl White. They spoke briefly about the trauma that has been brought to bear at the Crows.
The lockdown and the uncertainty it is creating was also raised. For White and Krakouer, it was a case of pushing on. As past players who have scaled the mountain, they are drawing from life experience and the challenges of being an elite footballer. It's like pre-season, but like in the middle of the season, again.
The talent that First Nations players bring to the code was again foregrounded on Yokayi Footy. Sonny Walters efficiency having taken the skippers job while Fyfe is injured was raised by White. Hunt spoke of Anthony McDonald-Tippunguti who was fantastic against the Pies. Hangers by Ben Long (St Kilda), Shane McAdam (Crows) and 'Son Son' were outstanding and why we pay our money to go to the games (well … maybe not for the time being).
Another player who fits into this category is ex Hawk-Docker and now Saint, Bradley Hill. Gifted with speed and skills to die for, the perennially happy Hill said it was his older brother Stephen who provided the inspiration for him to play. Once teammates at Freo and opponents in the 2013 Grand Final, these two great players go head-to-head in round six.
With NAIDOC meant to be this week Hill, Eddie Betts and Krakouer all spoke of what the week means to them. This year's theme, Always Was, Always Will Be, is shorthand for the resilience and tenacity Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have shown for 60,000 years, particularly since 1788. The drive and commitment of the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee that had its genesis in the 1920s with figures like William Cooper, is something every Australian should know about.
NAIDOC will reboot in November, 2020.
For Eagle Francis Watson, being stuck in a hotel room on the Gold Coast has meant he has had to adapt. Drawing (pardon pun) on the traditions of his matrilineal line, specifically that of his grandmother and great grandmother, the young Balgo Hills man paints in his down time in the common room. Displaying a calm sensitivity that is beyond his years, Watson, in a very measured way, speaks of how painting helps him connect to his country, his people and their traditions. Wadjulars (Whitefellas) talk about it in terms of mindfulness and staying centred.
Rounding out the show was the apology given last week to Nicky Winmar and photographer Wayne Ludbey.
That Don Scott, Sam Newman and Mike Sheahan claimed on their podcast that Winmar was 'dining out' on the iconic image taken by Ludbey back in round four of 1993, was an ignorant error. Some will throw up their arms claiming, 'just get over it'. For Krakouer the issue again comes down to education and cultural awareness.
For Armstrong, it's about systemic change and growth. What does this mean? For me it means at some point people need to inform themselves before entering into the discussion/debate.
I understand a large section of the broader community is frustrated but not engaging with First Nations History and people no longer get a guernsey if you want to have a crack. Ignorance is no longer a choice. Sceptical? Well try this on for size.
I firmly believe that more people who side with the Sam Newman position spend more time making choices from restaurant menus than thinking about any issue that impacts on First Nations Australians. Maybe Scott, Newman and Sheahan should have spent more time in the State Library reading about William Cooper than considering how they will have their steak while congratulating one another on how smart they think they are.
>> Dr Sean Gorman is an author, historian, and Indigenous AFL specialist. He currently works for the AFL and was the lead investigator in the AFL's review of its vilification laws.