December 28, 2007

The following Thursday evening Maddy Quigley strode onto the Oval like a sumo wrestling racewalker. A brick in one hand and a twenty metre tape measure in the other. He called one of the juniors over and thrust one end of the tape towards him.


“Stand there in the goal square Bluey and hold that.”


Holding the other end of his tape at head height he paced down the ground. When the stretch came on the tape he looked back at Bluey to make sure he was still in position. Maintaining the stretch, he lowered the tape to the grass and put his brick beside it.


“Yeah, come to me now, Bluey, come to me. Stand just here in line with the brick.”


He repeated five times and called the juniors over.



“Alright lads, we’re going to start with a time trial. Now look, this may seem a bit strange but bear with me. Layla you go all the way back there to the middle of the goal line. Feet behind the goal line. You three go to her right and step forward – you five, you ten and you twenty Joel. You three go to her left and do the same. Give yourselves plenty of space to run beside each other. I’ll raise my hand. When I drop it you all run like buggery to me. The rest of you… stand to the side and make lots of noise.”


They set themselves up assisted by frenetic motioning and whistling from Maddy. Maddy pulled a stop-watch from this trouser pocket and set it. He lifted his hand high.


[Maddy shouting]:

“Right, settle down and get ready.


On your marks.


Get set.”


He dropped his hand and the race began.


Because of his front on perspective, Maddy couldn’t tell what was happening early. What he could tell was style. Layla had a disciplined and efficient sprinting posture. The others looked as if they were grabbing the back of a moving bus. Maddy, arms jerking invisible reins up and down, rode Layla all the way. And he wasn’t disappointed. Layla had great starting acceleration and was quick to get to her maximum speed. At which point the boys came back to her smoothly and quickly. At about the hundred metre mark she even had time to wave “hi” to Joel as she passed by him. “How’s that Maddy?” she said as she broke powerfully and fluently through Quigley’s imaginary finish line.



“Whoa there. Yeah, thirteen seconds Layla. Great run.”



“Yeah, I was pulling up a bit at the end.”


“How did I go coach” said one of the other lads as he finished.



“How did you do? Yeah, good. Very good Stevo. Let’s do some skills.”


“Are you timing us for the AFL draft?” said another of the lads.



“Of course I’m not timing yez for the draft. Yez are way too young for that. No, this is far more important.”


[Maddy hailing his grandson Micky, a Demons senior]:

“Micky, take these for me tonight, mate. I have to talk to Geoff.”


He walked towards a tall man who looked on from outside the changing rooms.



“Come on Geoff. Walk with me. Come on.


Right, Geoff. Forget all about them women’s events crap mate. We’re upping the ante. We’re shooting for the big one here.


About twelve and a half seconds. With footy boots. Spikes and a handicap and we’ll be a shoo-in.”


[Geoff clapping his hands together and rubbing them excitedly]:

“Carn the Demons. We’ll stick it to the bastards this time.”


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