It’s been a while since my last post, and to be honest, I haven’t had that much to say on an NBA-related front the past few weeks. I was naturally quite shocked then, when I went browsing last night through the NBA blogosphere and realised that most of my favorite NBA blogs had been happily churning out new posts at a healthy rate, despite the off season lull.
I came to the following realisation: either I’m just a lazy and selfish blogger, or I need to start an AFL blog to keep me busy in the off season. Usually the footy is a good distraction in the NBA off season, nothing more. But this year that distraction has ballooned thanks to my team – the Blues – being decent enough to make the Finals for the first time since 2001. I was at our last final against Richmond that year. It seems like a lifetime away. It’s hard to believe that since then, seven Septembers have rolled around without me having the slightest emotional investment in the sport. (That’s not entirely true: I was genuinely pleased to see Essendon and Collingwood lose their Grand Finals, things got pretty emotional in ‘05 sitting amongst a bunch of old Swans fans who all cried after the game, and in ‘08 I was rooting pretty hard for Crawf and the Hawks). But this year it’s different. This year I’m scouring the papers every morning for the tiniest morsel of football news, tracking my team’s injuries, planning my whole weekends around going to the footy, spending hours on the Big Footy forums patting fellow supporters on the back after a win.
And then there’s Fevola. Brendan Fevola has been my favorite Carlton player since Andrew McKay retired in 2003. But it’s been a love-hate relationship. No player has made me jump out of my seat swearing at the TV in frustration more than Brendan Fevola over the past few years, but no player has left me swearing in amazement just as much either. If you pick out Carlton’s best wins from 2002-2007 (and there aren’t many) the chances are those games had Fevola kicking a bag and winning it off his own boot. To put it simply, I haven’t seen a forward carry a team so helplessly dependent on him as Brendan Fevola – ever. A lot of people will bring up Tony Lockett, but if you look at the seasons where he kicked a lot of goals, they all came on sides who played Finals or were close to it. He also had a pretty handy half-forward in Stewart Loewe to help him share the load. Not many players in AFL history have won a Coleman medal while their team collected the Wooden Spoon as Fev did in 2006, and despite our obviously hopeless team, Fevola gave Carlton fans plenty to smile about during those bleak years. Like his game-winning boundary line kick against the Crows in 2004. Or the game against the Bombers in 2007 where he booted 8 goals (6 in the second half) in Carlton’s greatest ever comeback.
It is only this season that I’ve come to realise one thing: Brendan Fevola is probably my favorite AFL player of all time. I go to watch the Blues every week for the Fevola show. When he’s off his game, he can be frustrating to watch (although this is happening less and less now), but when he’s on, you are watching one of the most talented footballers to ever play the game. I honestly believe that. I also love the fact he’s a character, that he wears his heart on his sleeve, that he sometimes seems like a big kid (come to think of it, these are the same reasons Sheed was my favorite player for so many years). Of course, to opposition fans that may translate to “Fevola is a dickhead”. And that’s fine. As I said to a mate a few weeks back, Fev might be on track to be the greatest football “dickhead” of all time – but we both agreed he had to wrestle that title off Dermie at #1. And maybe that’s what I love the most about the Fev. The fact he can be such a larrikin, such a hothead, such a misguided individual at times – yet still be good enough to win Coleman medals, to effortlessly kick six goals in a half, to carry a team to victory, often on the biggest stage in front of the biggest crowds.
He is still an enigma, but as he enters the second phase of his career on a team that will win more than it loses, a whole new chapter in the Brendan Fevola story is going to be written. And I’ve got a feeling that chapter is going to be pretty remarkable.
/waits for Fevola to go goalless and get reported against the Crows tonight