Journ-AL: From Flogging to Final in 15 Rounds

Al's first year of AFL

Journ-AL: From Flogging to Final in 15 Rounds

If somebody had told me last year that in one year’s time I’d be playing in an AFL grand final, I’d have promptly whipped out a “get your hand off it Darryl”.  I’ve played touch footy from the age of 13 and pretty much have had no inclination or room in my life for any other sport since. Before moving down to Hobart to be Dave Noonan’s offsider on ‘The Dave Noonan Show’ (he loves it when I say that), I’d actually stopped playing touch to focus my time on pursuing a radio career. Now when I say stopped playing, what I actually mean is I immediately ceased from doing anything remotely physical or that could in any way shape or form be deemed as exercise!! #lazycow. I seriously had Shady Acres retirement home knocking on my door for a consult. Lazy with a capital ‘L’ was my middle name and quite frankly, I was loving it sick.

It’s funny how in the blink of an eye, or in my case, the drink of a sky (vodka)……life can bring a new challenge and take you on an adventure you hadn’t planned for. At a friend’s BBQ I got introduced to one Jodie Mather who along with one Andrew ‘Barrel’ Moore, had started to put together the 1st Lindisfarne women’s AFL team to play in the SFLW. So although Jodie caught me at a ‘weak’ moment when she asked me to join the ranks, I’ll be forever grateful to her for hitting me up to play.

Right from the first training I was hooked. I’d only ever watched two live games of AFL so I had absolutely NO idea about any rules, tactics or under playing shorts wear for that matter!! #beigebikeshorts #unattractive #neededtoshred. The first game was a wake up call I will never forget.  Within 30 secs the ball came hurling my way from the starting bounce so I started towards it with the bravado of the…..well……let’s say the bravado of the naïve. Now, as I mentioned, I’ve mainly played touch footy in which my opponent is directly opposite me and nowhere else……..NO PERIPHERAL VISION REQUIRED!!!!! I think you can see where this is heading. After about 4.5 strides I was sideswiped and knocked clean on my bum by what I thought must have been a runaway 12 axle B-triple road train. I got some serious hang time and whilst I was flying through the air, I distinctly remember thinking to myself……..WHAT IN THE (beep) WAS I THINKING AGREEING TO THIS?!!! It was no truck that cleaned me up, it was my little (now) mate from the South East Suns, Letitia Douglas aka Red. I said to her five minutes later with a grin and a giggle, “you smashed me big time”……to which she laughed and grinned straight back at me with, “yeah I got you good”. Friendship formed, welcome to AFL sista J She actually did me the biggest favour because I can assure you from that moment on, I’ve mutated to develop the peripheral vision of a wedge tail. #scaredycat

We got done by about 50 points that very first game, the Suns came out hard and fast and rattled our Lady Blues, 12 of us playing for the very first time. I’m sure there was some soul searching taking place in at least 12 Hobart homes that night!!! Anyway, we stuck at it. Every training session we learnt a little more from our coach Jodie and her right hand Assistant Coaches Shelley and Luci-Anne/LA. I think the biggest thing that we had going for us apart from the knowledge we were gaining, was the enthusiasm of all of the girls to give this AFL thing a red hot crack. I can say with full conviction that I cannot remember the last time I’ve enjoyed learning something new as much as I have footy. Every attempted mark, kick, handball, tackle has been an opportunity that I’ve relished and I’ve LOVED every second of the seriously physical nature of the game. Maybe I’ve got years of non-contact sport pent up frustration that’s been bottled up??!! #issues #seekmedicalattention

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We worked our butts off throughout the season and most importantly I believe over everything else, we worked hard for each other both at training and on the paddock. We became a family, no doubt assisted by the fact that we have four sets of sisters (2 sets of twins amongst them) in our team. I would never have believed at the start of the season after that first 50 point flogging that we would be any chance of making the GF, and I’m pretty sure every single one of my teammates was of the same lack of belief. So to line up as a team next to the South East Suns on Sept 16 and have the opportunity to belt out the national anthem together, was a feeling I will remember forever. I was so proud to be a part of the inaugural women’s SFLW grand final, and even prouder of the 21 women arm in arm with me.  I won’t give a blow by blow of the game, you can watch it on Duff TV if you’re keen (love your work Duffy)…….just disregard the shocker goal attempt I had in the final minutes if you don’t mind #embarrassing #needswork. Anyway, through rain, wind and ridiculously FREEZING COLD STINGING HAIL (wtf!)……the Lindisfarne Lady Blues scrapped it out and won 32 to 22!!

I love this new game I call home, but like with every sport I’ve played, it’s the shared challenges, victories and defeats with new teammates and coaches that I now call friends that mean the most. You may as well throw in the opponents that I respect as well, no matter how hard they hit me (Red that’s you ;p ), because over the years some of my closest friends in touch footy have also been my fiercest rivals. Mad Monday mayhem with the other GF Lindisfarne teams not a bad gig either, club bonding central, great memories with great people wearing their ridiculous best!!

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Forever grateful for moving my life to Hobart to be able to put this one in the memory bank. The sporting life down here is second to none!! In 10 months I’ve played touch footy with the Phantoms, AFL with the Blues, wheelchair AFL with Kev Faulkner and his boys alongside the North Melb Roo’s and finally netball with the mighty Rebel@Hearts, who no surprises have only won when I HAVEN’T played.  This city is a tragic sport’s nuts paradise!!!  LOVE. IT!!!! “Please Sir, I want some more”.

Finally, I want to share that I’m a little bit worried to tell my husband Stevie P of my recruitment into the next sport I’ve always wanted to play, so I guess now’s as good a time as any. Stand with me Hobart comrades!! (Here goes) “Darl, you know I love you, and you know I love sport……..thankfully so do you. So on behalf of, well, myself and the Clarence District Cricket Club, I’d like to thank you for your understanding and support for this the next chapter of my tragic sports nut life. Yours truly, your often delusional but care factor nil about that deludedness wife,

Al Plath xxxxx (Co-host of Dave Noonan. That’s Dave Noonan from ‘The Dave Noonan Show’) ;p xx

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