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Possum, Shaggy elite to the end

Date

Bob Murphy

Stalwarts in defence: Lindsay Gilbee and Ryan Hargrave kept morale up at the Bulldogs.

Stalwarts in defence: Lindsay Gilbee and Ryan Hargrave kept morale up at the Bulldogs. Photo: Getty Images

''Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.'' - Jack Kerouac

IT HAS been a rough couple of months out west, to put it simply. Not a lot to cheer about, you could say. The last real road trip in footy may just have come at the right time for my Dogs and I. Just like an open fireplace, the wide open road is a great place to do some deep thinking around the troubles you find yourself in, and also the dreaming of what might just be around the next corner. No doubt, all of us in the red, white and blue will have the Geelong Cats in the forefront of our minds for Sunday's trip down the highway, but you could safely bet your last penny on all of us sparing more than a few thoughts for a couple of old Dogs.

The game is precious, more precious than a mathematical chance to figure in finals football.  

Lindsay Gilbee and Ryan Hargrave - or ''Possum'' and ''Shaggy'' as they are more affectionately known - have decided to call time on their fine careers after playing their hearts out for a combined 409 games. Both have been great players and proud custodians of the jumper, and their departures will be felt by all.

At their best, Possum and Shaggy were elite defenders. When the Dogs last looked like giving the cup a shake, these two were an integral part of the campaign.

What the masses aren't able to see as clearly though, is the role people such as these two play off the field, in the locker room. In the topsy-turvy world of AFL football, with all its ebbs and flows and yoyoing fortunes, it's a valued commodity to have people within your club who can keep it on an even keel.

Shaggy has been a calming influence on his teammates for 13 years. If he was any more laid back he'd be lying down, a great counterpoint to a few of us who can get a bit wound up.

Gilb, on the other hand, has often taken it on himself to keep the mood light. When our world has turned dark, he has revelled in the mischief that engulfs the changeroom from time to time. His cheeky sense of humour is, dare I say it, ''rascalish''.

I'll probably hitch a ride down to the Cattery this week with my other class of '99 teammate, Daniel Giansiracusa. I'm sure we'll fondly reminisce about our two comrades and all that has passed since the day we were plucked out of a barrel like a ticket in a chook raffle, to now, as ageing footballers with grey hair and creaky joints. A fair bit of the reminiscing will be done in relative silence, with just the hum of the road under us as the backing soundtrack.

Plenty of people have come up to me in recent weeks with the cheery observation, ''You must be looking forward to the end of the year!'' I'm sure others have faced similar stuff.

It's an indulgence we must not allow ourselves to think about for too long, because there's always something to play for. There's more than one way to run away from things, especially when times get tough, as they are at the minute.

The game is precious, more precious than a mathematical chance to figure in finals football. Sparks of good play that we've been beginning to see on the field in the last couple of weeks could become a raging inferno next year. There's also the simple logic of acknowledging just how bloody special it is to play league football, especially for a club as proud as the Bulldogs.

The curtain has fallen on two of our sons, just as it will fall on all of us at some point. Can't let a minute go to waste.

13 comments

  • how about trying to get a kick instead bob?

    Commenter
    ak
    Location
    lala
    Date and time
    August 23, 2012, 8:13AM
    • Yeah... Good One ! Loser !!!

      Commenter
      Class of 99'
      Location
      Now Sydney
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 3:46PM
    • ... and how many kicks have got in your illustrious AFL career "ak"? Yeah, I though so!

      Keep up the great work Bob - you're a credit to your club and I hope you follow-on to a successful media career when you retire.
      Dave (Cats supporter)

      Commenter
      Basso Divor
      Location
      Bassendean
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 4:27PM
    • AK, shouldn't you be reading a tabloid paper??

      Commenter
      Matt
      Location
      Preston
      Date and time
      August 24, 2012, 9:59AM
  • Am guessing someone might have seen an advance screening of the same film I did last week?

    Anyway, congrats to both Gilbs and Shags, both elite attacking defenders at their peak and in this day and age 200 games is no mean feat. Go Dogs. Hope we can get one more shot at the big one before your time is up Bob, what a great column that would make...

    Commenter
    Dave
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    August 23, 2012, 8:20AM
    • fine players both, unlucky to not at least play in the big one, but at the end of the day just another couple of good bulldog players that under achieved.... with the direction the club has taken, i fear that Boydy, yourself, gia etc will end the same way as the scrays are at least 5 yrs away from even dreaming abt finals participation, let alone ultimate success...

      Commenter
      same old story
      Location
      reality
      Date and time
      August 23, 2012, 8:44AM
      • Good on you Shaggy and Gilbee. Great players, great clubmen, sorely missed. It would be really good for the club if Gia joined them.Although I'm not sure he could catch them

        Commenter
        Terry
        Location
        Newport
        Date and time
        August 23, 2012, 9:05AM
        • I just find it refreshing that the opening line of an article about footy referenced Jack Kerouac. Toodle pip. Bigman.

          Commenter
          Bigman
          Location
          Preston
          Date and time
          August 23, 2012, 10:40AM
          • Great articles Robert, for some reason you want to be known as Bob, and I can't for the life of me understand why. You will always be Robert to me, two syllable words are not really too difficult to pronounce, even for football players.

            Commenter
            vangrapplinghook
            Location
            wheelers hill
            Date and time
            August 23, 2012, 12:27PM
            • From a Carlton supporter, well done boys. Both of you were inaugural members of my Supercoach team and you managed to keep my head above water (except this year). Being so close to the ultimate glory you can be assured that not everyone, even gets that chance.
              Good luck for the weekend

              Commenter
              Toughnup
              Location
              Perth
              Date and time
              August 23, 2012, 1:43PM

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