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Sunday, November 10, 2013

My Finest Moment in Sport.

This article title is a bit misleading.

I was at  a cricket club reunion today when one of my past team mates, who I also went to high school with, brought up an event that hapenned in the school(Henley High) lunch hour probably about 1963.

Those in the AFL playing states will remember that at lunch time and recess time kids would race out on to the school oval to have a kick of the footy or a have hit at cricket or whatever their sport or fun thing was.

This of course was a way for kids to let off steam and use up the boundless energy that most of us have in our youth.

In the lunch hour the footy playing kids would have what we called "kick to kick".

In fact when I played football in 1970 in Darwin that was about the only thing our players did at training.

"Kick to kick" if you can imagine,is where a number of kids ,with up to 20 in each group , face each other from a distance of about 50 metres or yards and kick a football back and forth between the 2 groups.

There would be usually more than one football going at a time.

The idea was to kick the ball as far as you could and compete for "marks" (catches to the uninitiated)

A number of different age groups would be taking part.

If you were not very good at getting the ball you could "wax" with a mate which meant that whoever got the ball in your "wax" team would share having a kick in turn.

People would sometimes take a "speccy" as the ball came high in the air.

It would become very competitive and sometimes a little rough.

Well this particular lunch hour I was not taking part in the "kick to kick" but standing just behind one end and just watching proceedings.

I was with a couple of mates and suddenly got the urge to take a "speccy".

A "speccy" is where a player can see the ball coming in high and judges a run up to leap onto an opponents back and shoulders and when as high as you can go, you reach out and grab the ball and usually crash to the ground.

If you hold onto it cleanly without dropping it during a game then you are given  a free kick.

"speccy" is short for spectacular.

Sometimes a "speccy" is called a "screamer". (Because the crowd screams approval.)

Well I saw the ball coming and took a run up from a few meters away and launched myself in the  air on the back and shoulders of a lad called Greg Conley.

When you get a "sit" as it it is called,  the idea is to push up upwards from your knees or shins to go as high as you can.

There have been many exponents of this art in AFL over the years and each year a mark of the year award is made to the best mark in the AFL National competition.

South Australia has had some great "speccy" takers, probably Tony Modra of the Adelaide Crows being the most notable of recent years.
Or the great Gary Ablett senior from Geelong.

To continue my story.

Well I got the perfect "sit" and soared higher and higher and grasped the footy.

With ball firmly in my grip I pitched forward ovr the top of Greg, plunging to the ground.

When I hit the turf my legs were still entangled around his shoulders.

Taking a "speccy" is probably more exhilarating than bungy jumping.

There were gasps all around and looks of amazement from the guys looking on.

I have often looked back on this event and thought it my finest moment in sport even though it was just a lunch hour kick to kick. (Greg wasn't hurt by the way just bewildered".

As I progressed through my football career I probably took about 7 "speccies"but none as good as that one.

I thought that it was something for my memory banks only with no photograph or video taken.

Yet Jeff Barnes today said  it was the best "speccy" he had seen even better than the famous Tony Modra.

I was amazed that someone other than myself remembered it with out my even bringing it up.

It's funny how old guys getting together remember how amazing we were in our youth.

Sadly Jeff said Greg Conley has since passed on.

Below is a link to some more  "speccies"

Tony Modra's mark of the year in 1993.

Many more to be found on this you tube search link.

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