Newell’s Notes Round 3 Greater Western Sydney v Richmond 2019

The much loved Giants Property & Logistics manager Ady Schwegler & his 500th time working at an AFL game

A team is a sum of parts especially at the Greater Western Sydney Giants. Ady Schwegler the Giants Property & Logistics guy is a classic example. This bloke has been there since the Giants began (for some of my friends here we all know what that means)..forget about the glamour of gameday or the back slapping or behind the scenes perks..the majority of football life in any area is a tough, monotonous grind. The most basic of jobs has to be done….Ady Schwegler yesterday racked up his 500th AFL game in such a role and the Giants boys rewarded him with an absolute drenching of Gatorade after yesterday’s tough win over Richmond. I’ve seen Ady packing boots, bottles, jerseys, footballs well after a game has finished. This bloke would bleed orange and grey he is 100% people like this in footy clubs..was wonderful seeing his hard work rewarded..It’s why I love footy.. so many people of different roles and skills making the game great.

De Bored, Done & Dusted!

Boy oh boy did Matty de Boer do a number on the Richmond superstar midfielder Dustin Martin on Saturday. de Boer limited the effectiveness of the star midfielder playing a close tagging role. He was an absolute pest with Dusty and got right inside his head. The stupid “snort” face gesture directed at Shane Mumford and course language wasn’t a great look. Sure he’s just being a hot-headed bloke playing sport, but as they say, a lot of kids watch and play the game and you don’t want to see this type of public behavior as acceptable in 2019. Dusty faces another headache with the AFL Match Review for an off the ball incident with Giants defender Adam Kennedy. (On Monday afternoon the AFL advised that Martin would be facing a two game ban for striking Kennedy, and a $1500 fine for striking Matt de Boer) The best square up Martin could provide is to focus on trying to play the tremendous football he is so capable of. I’d have no hesitation in describing Dustin Martin as one of the most exciting and unique talents of the modern AFL era. He’ll be back, everyone goes through down patches in many endeavors. Champions find their groove during such times. But back to Matt de Boer he’s been a superb selection by the Giants. Forward, back or tagger, de Boer has been able to re-invent himself and having that ability to do so is such a desirable commodity in today’s footy landscape.

That Dusty track. Dustin Martin is struggling to pick up form. Photo: Jodie Newell

I forgive Neil Balme

One of the super cool things about covering AFL is the people you meet in the industry. It’s like being amongst a living footy card world, past and present. Neil Balme was a guy I despised way back in the 1970’s. The big number 21 for Richmond was an absolute enforcer in the Tigers backline. On Saturday September 29, 1973, I was seated in the Northern Stand for the Carlton vs Richmond V.F.L. grand final. The Blues were favorites and I saw all of Carlton’s finals that year. They accounted for Richmond in the Qualifying Final by 20 points, then in the Second Semi they won a thrilling game against Collingwood at VFL Park Waverley. The Blues seemed destined to win a second flag in a row. They faced a pumped Richmond team who broke Magpie hearts with a stunning Prelim win. That Saturday was an education in high pressure football for me. I saw big names go down and in a brutal manner. The day itself was hot, and the pressure palpable. The first mind blowing incident was seeing Carlton legend John Nicholls and absolute rock for the Blues KO’d by Richmond’s Lauire Fowler. Big Nick crashed to the turf and was shaken. To Nicholl’s credit he was awarded a free kick and regained some composure and booted a goal, but this incident shook Carlton to the core. Then later enter Neil Balme. Geoff Southby was one of the finest full-backs I have seen play the game. None of this short passing or walking out of the square stuff. Southby would regularly, with a torpedo punt, kick the ball long into the wing area. He was a fair player, never dirty and was super competitive.  At the Punt rd end, during the second quarter of the grand final, Southby was playing the ball in the back pocket, when Balme absolutely slammed Southby to the head with a solid forearm. Southby slumped to the ground and as Bob Skilton said in his infamous call “Southby’s looking seedy” was 100% correct. He had to leave the ground at half-time and his game was over. The thing my dad pointed out to me during that game was his disdain for the so called Carlton tough guy Vin Waite, who in my father’s words should have belted Balme and returned serve aka Southby. That didn’t happen, the Tigers won the flag. Losing that grand final cut me deeply, seeing the premiership gold cup glisten in the Melbourne spring evening, held aloft by Tigers skipper Royce Hart is an image I will never, ever forget. I remember being at Princess Park Carlton in 1979. It was round 13 and Neil Balme played his final VFL game there. It was an inglorious end to his playing career, with only 4 disposals and a loss to boot. But, I clearly remember during the quarter time break, Carlton fans loudly booing Balme as he made his way to the Richmond huddle located in front of the Ald. Gardiner Stand. They hadn’t forgotten nor had they forgiven his deeds on that awful September day in 1973. Karma had seemed to catch up with Neil that afternoon.

The 1973 Scanlen’s Neil Balme Footy card.

Fast forward me to 2019, and now I see Neil around the industry. I first met him when he was with Geelong and he was a kind soul the exact opposite to what I had carried with me as a fan. He always says hello to me, he’s a lovely bloke. I have told him about my thoughts and memories of that day in 1973 from a kid supporters view. Balmey would say ‘Gee’s that’s a long time ago” and he’s right. I know some Carlton people will never forgive, I guess Geoff Southby feels pretty bad about it. Some say he was never the same, I don’t really buy that, as he was a pretty decent player throughout the 1970s and he played in the 1979 Carlton premiership team. I saw Neil on Saturday still working at the highest level of AFL football. He knows what it takes to win, he’s a great football person and he’s with his old club in Richmond. We said hello as per usual, it was great to say g’day to a bloke and have a chat about footy. It’s funny how things work out hey?

The Sydney Easter show scheduling saga

Dunno but having the Easter Show being set up and imposing itself on the ground configuration and supporter experience just didn’t feel right. Sure the game result was a positive for the Giants, but I do know paying members were moved out of their regular seats, the action was a little further away. We did ask if the ground dimensions were the same and were given “It’s an optical illusion” response from Giants staff. Throw in long walks for fans from the car parks in the warm summer like temperatures and it was an annoyance at best. One wonders if the Giants should stick to playing their early games at Canberra and avoid the Easter Show set up hassles.

Lewis Melican watch

After being curiously dropped by Swans head coach John Longmire the week after he kept Adelaide Crows skipper Taylor Walker to one goal, Lewis Melican was playing for the Sydney Swans NEAFL curtain raiser against the Giants on Saturday. Was told by Swans officials that he’s part of the future backline picture. Again I’m rather bewildered at this approach considering the Swans backline isn’t getting any younger AKA Heath Grundy and Jarrad McVeigh. You’d think that game time experience is vital, considering Lewis has only played a handful of games in recent times. I’ve see many an AFL team persist with young defenders who got an absolute bath from a forward opponent who kicked bags of goals against them, yet coaches have stuck by them. Sydney did win in Melbourne on Saturday against the Blues which was important. Here’s hoping Lewis Melican gets back to the big show soon.

Swans defender Lewis Melican watching the footy wheels go by in the NEAFL world. Photo: Jodie Newell


About the Author

Jodie Newell
Love reporting on sports, politics, history and music