Andrew Johnston

March 01, 2018

I ATTENDED my first Sportstar dinner on Monday night, and I must say I quite enjoyed myself.

Listening to those athletes talk about their achievements throughout the year in their individual sports was very exciting.

Every person had a goal.

But the person who stood out to me was Simon Buckley.

Bucks was at a successful club — he was at Collingwood when they won the 2010 AFL premiership.

That’s a fantastic moment, but as anyone who was on a list but not in the side will tell you, it’s not the same.

Bucks has had a couple of great seasons the past three years, but his comments after he won the Sportstar award are ones that I won’t be forgetting any time soon.

He looked at the Moama netball girls and said to me: ‘‘That’s what I want. I want to be called up on stage as part of a team. I’m 30, I’m too old to be focused on individual things, I just want a premiership.’’

It’s an incredibly honest statement, but a very fair one.

We play team sports for team success.

I’ve played in one grand final in my life — under 13s for the South Launceston Football Club against the all conquering Launceston Football Club.

Launceston lost one game in two years (to us earlier that season), so we thought we were a chance.

We got rolled by 40-odd points.

I played off the half-back line, didn’t get a touch, and had four goals kicked on me by Jackson Thurlow, who now plays for Geelong.

So ends my football claim to fame!

That was a pretty bitter pill to swallow, and because we were 13 year-olds, we dealt with that loss by bullying each other.

Not a lot of fun.

But, the simple fact is I never got close in my life after that game.

A key point is that due to a combination of things I never really played after that.

Minus two games for Jane Franklin Hall while I was at uni. Two games in my fresher year, we won by 92 and 112 points. Go Raiders.

When you get a bit older, towards senior levels, those seasons mean a fair bit more to you.

By then, the guys who are still playing the game are so heavily committed to their football, or netball or soccer or whatever sport they may play.

There is nothing they want more than to play in a premiership with their teammates, to be a part of team success.

And the sad part is it doesn’t happen for everyone.

Sometimes, you get a guy like Shane Crawford.

A hero to every Hawthorn supporter my age, Shane was nearly a member of Club 17 — a group of Hawthorn players who played between 1991 and 2008, dark times when Hawthorn were never a chance at a flag.

Some 304 games, a Brownlow Medal and multiple All-Australian selections came, but no flag. Then, in his 305th and last game, he was a premiership player.

That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Then, you have a guy like Bob Skilton. One of the finest footballers in history, he won three Brownlows and played in one losing elimination final for his whole career.

He famously said he’d trade them back just to play in a grand final.

Bucks said that on the night — he’d give it back for a flag.

Hard not to get where he is coming from.

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