2003 05 10 - Bronwyn Evans - Off The Field - Paul Kelly Tribute Evening

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Paul Kelly Tribute Evening

Originally posted: 2003 05 10 - 07:47:43 AM

After battling the Friday evening traffic coming over the Bridge into the City, we finally arrived at the Darling Harbour Convention Centre right on 7.30pm feeling a bit flustered.

The traffic was something of a disaster and I was panicking that we'd miss something (other than a glass of bubbles!). We dashed in and realised that THIS was the right time to arrive as all the players and folk from the Swans seemed to time their arrivals for then!

We walked straight into Andrew Ireland (Director of Football and ex-CEO of Brisbane Lions) in the foyer, who recognised us from the Redbacks brunch and happily stopped to have a few words with us. We spoke briefly about his talk at the Redbacks brunch, and I related how people felt it was a very open,involving talk and that they appreciated his approach. We asked how he felt about Sunday's game against Brisbane. Andrew said that there was no question of divided loyalties, he was fully focused on the Swans and that really, a win on Sunday would be all the sweeter for him. He also told us that there were about 700 people at the function.

Immediately that we moved on, Amon Buchanon came up to us selling raffle tickets. We have spent a bit of time chatting to Amon, so he knows us pretty well. He feels that he's ready to push for senior selection. He has been playing quite well in the reserves, a goal last week and 4 goals the week before (of course we all knew this from our RWO updates!). I like Amon, he's a bright, chatty guy who always is prepared to talk to you. We talked about some of the matches last year, and I recalled his "horizontal mark". I can't remember who we were playing, but I just remember him launching himself off, and having his body parallel to the ground, a metre in the air when he took the mark and then went on to score. We talked about Adam Schneider and his success this year. Amon said he felt there was room in the team for both of them.

We had to let Amon get about selling his raffle tickets - for a PK signed guernsey, the match ball from his last game and his shoes from his last game (obviously someone realised how well the Schwatta's boots incident went over!). My green tickets C49, C50 and C51 didn't do me any good, despite Amon's assurances he'd fix things for me! As he wandered off, I glanced over my shoulder to see a very big man arriving - yep, Plugger had arrived!

We all took our seats in the ballroom. Our table was off to the left of stage, up the front, but several tables back. The view was reasonable, but not great. Never mind, we were there! The night started with a video of Paul Kelly (the singer) and Paul Kelly (the Swan). PK (singer) was singing the "I remember" song, interspersed with great PK (Swan) moments. A good way to start. It concluded with accolades from PK (singer) to PK (Swan).

Start of Proceedings

Craig Willis from the 7 Network in Melbourne was our host for the evening. He started by relating all the sports stars from Wagga Wagga. Of course the culmination of the amazingly long list was one Paul James Kelly. There were a few words of thanks to Rowan Webb who was the evening's auctioneer, the sponsors and the organisers.

We settled down to our entree (pave of snapper, yabby tail, veal sweetbreads, foie gras and mache lettuce - looked like butter lettuce to me!). Quite nice.

Richard Colless gave the official welcome and highlighted that people had come to the function from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and that Basil Sellers had flown in from London specifically to be here. He introduced "Saint Lyndell", PK's wife, and thanked her for her support over the years. He gave a quick plug for PK's book, Swansong (which was on sale up the back and I bought my signed copy later in the evening). He told us that the current incarnation of the Swans would not have been possible without PK. He told us of when, as the new Chairman of the Swans, he was discussing with Ron Barrassi whether Paul was suitable to be Captain of the Club. Barrassi was critical of Paul's punctuality and reliability and organised a dinner meeting with Paul to discuss the captaincy. Well, our aspiring captain never showed up - he'd forgotten the meeting. Colless closed by saying that Paul was irreplaceable and that he'd miss him heaps. His closing words were that "people like you are why people like me do what we do". Hmmm I could make a political comment, but I shan't.

Bob Carr was the next to give accolades to our past Captain. Via video, he described PK as the larrikin kid from Wagga Wagga who displayed grace under pressure and was a faultless role model for kids and what AFL was all about. Bob had obviously not spoken with Plugger - or at least not heard the story Plugger would tell later in the evening!

On The Couch, Back Home

Someone had had a brilliant idea and organised for some couches on the stage and subsequent "interviews" were done "on the couch". First up were three of Paul's four sisters, his mother and his mate, Squeak from Wagga. Paul's mum told us that he had stayed a good boy for a long time, but he'd got out of hand lately! The girls all played netball and Paul even joined them for a while - until he gave someone a bloody nose in a match. The told of somewhat mischievous hijinks in Wagga involving a stolen park bench, the cops and a one tonne ute! Back in Wagga, it took a while before they realised that in Sydney, Paul had become "god". He was quiet and unassuming about his success. One of his sisters told the great story of how he bought her a pair of puma joggers with his first pay packet.

Next up were his kids, by video. This was sort of a "kids say the darndest things" session, getting the funny response. e.g. "What does Dad do at the football?" "Kicks goals and points" and "What does Dad do at home?" "Nothing"

As the sorbet was served, I glanced over my shoulder to see one BBB Barry Hall surrounded by four gorgeous girls and Schaubs deep in discussion with a bloke. One benefit of our table position was that we were by the entrance, so we saw the passing parade. Mark Powell wandered in - still no haircut.

Auction Part 1

At this point, the first half of the auction items were up for grabs. This has to have been a very profitable event for the Swans. I went to last year's R&W ball and I reckon that the prices paid this year were well above the inflation rate! A fully catered day on the harbour for you, ten mates and Paul Kelly on a yacht (with skipper) went for $5,500. A footy trip for two to Melbourne for the Melbourne game, staying at the team hotel, riding to the game on the team bus went for $5,000. A dining package at the Sydney Turf Club went for $3,500 and a chance to be in the 2004 QBE Swans Team Photo went for $3,500!

On The Couch, Football Legends

Next up was the football legends segment. Up on the couch were Ron Barrassi, Dennis Carroll and Bobby Skilton. Barrassi said he'd "never seen a footballer so admired by the opposition". When they looked for the next captain after Dennis, well who else was there but Kel.

Dennis recounted how his first impression of Kel was that all they saw of him was his ribs. He was asked some time ago what animal Kel would be and the answer was a Drover's Dog. This was because of his individual loyalty, he was tough as nails and he worked all day. Sounds right to me!

Bob said that he always took an interest in who was wearing his number, but if PK had played for another Club, he would still have been his favourite player. His admiration for Paul is tremendous and he has only one reason to be crook on him. Skilts recounted how his granddaughter had written to Paul, and Paul had written back. He doesn't know what was in the correspondence, but from that day, Skilts' went down in her estimation and PK went up.

Skilts also made a really interesting observation - he said that if all off us in the room were asked for our favourite Paul Kelly highlight, we might all have a different one, such were the number of his highlights.

Dennis Carroll said that he was one of the very few people who has experienced every one of Paul's games and that his most endearing feature was that "he's just a really good bloke".

Next up was a Carig Bradley video. Craig said that when playing against Sydney, he always knew that the team walked taller for having PK in the side.

I think we had main about now, but I forgot to make a note of it. It was fillet steak with asparagus and onion rings.

Auction Part 2

The next auction items went now. $5,000 to sit in the Channel 10 commentators box for the first half of the Melbourne game; $2,500 for a kids birthday party with Team Swans; I can't remember how much for a corporate box at the New Years test for 16 people; $7,500 for two people to go to this year's Brownlow Medal presentation.

On The Couch, Mates

Then we had a mates segment on the couch. Up came Mark Bayes, Andrew Dunkley, Barry Mitchell, Warwick Capper and Plugger. Dunks said that his relationship with Kel was like that of a brother. He been hearing all the good things about Kel for 11 years, and he'd heard enough - Lyndell should be getting the accolades, he's seen Kel at home and he does nothing! (PK's response - "I've got a job!")

Barry Mitchell said that PK was all heart. He had a heart so big, but not much brains! He told a really funny story about being led astray drinking by PK and coming home to face the music with his wife. He walked in, the wife looked crook, he looked at Kel and had courage, they'd had a kebab on the way home, she'd cooked and it was wasted, she paid him out, he looked at Kel and had courage, this went on a few iterations, until finally, he looked at Kel, and Kel slunk off to his room and left Barry to it!

The Wiz made a few comments about himself (surprise surprise), running a little commentary - he has a 200 acre property in Queensland with 25,000 trees each with a gold mirror. He's starring in Fat Pizza next month, playing a character called Dwayne Carey who gets it off with Annelise Brackenwhatsit and they've had to do 75 takes and it's wonderful. Then he changed topics - "we're here for Kelly, not for myself for a change!"

Plugger said that he didn't take long to appreciate Kel when he joined the Swans and stated his opinion that Kel should have won the Brownlow in 1996. He said that Kel was the best player he's every played with, and referred to how Kel did deals. Dunks bought a boat from Kel and paid more for it than Kel did originally.

Plugger's honeymoon was a fishing trip with Kel ... the wedding was a bit rushed because they couldn't miss the fishing trip.

He then told another fishing story. This time, down somewhere on the Great Australian Bight. They've been out fishing and caught some whopper fish. Came back to camp and thought they should celebrate. At luncthime, they drove to the nearest pub, an hour away to get a slab. Just thought that they'd have one for the road, and another, so eventually when it's midnight, they get rolled into the motel behind the pub. Plugger wakes up, he doesn't know where he is, who he's with or what's going on. Then he hears the shower going. He's not sure who it is. He wafts back off to sleep for an unknown period of time, wakes up, the shower's still going. Has no idea what's going on. Eventually decides to see what's going on, stands up and the floor is soaked, has no idea what's happening. He opens the bathroom door, there's Kel, sitting in the shower, fast asleep, covering the drain.

Plugger's closing words were that Kel was unequalled as a mate, what you see is what you get and that the mark of a great person is the respect they're held in.

A few videod words from Wayne Schwass and Kevin Sheedy followed. Then on came Vince Sorrenti ... described Warwick Capper as the Forrest Gump of the AFL; Kel's haircuts as following all the cults in the NSW prison system and mentioned all the sports people from Wagga, including Wayne - is the bathroom free - Carey. He cracked a few funny gags about how Kel is the sort of guy we needed over there in the Gulf. You know, the war that Australia has just won. They're all scared of us out in the big wide world you know. We were lucky to get away with no injuries given all that friendly fire - guess that was because no-one knew we were there!

Paul Roos made the official presentation to Paul Kelly. He noted that in 1994, PK's skills caught up with his courage and in 1996, Kel was one of the best players he's ever seen. Roosy presented Kel with a pair of 14 jumpers, signed by Skilts and Kel. The memories of the friendship are the best thing that he'll take away.

Then came the dancing, a pretty good band belted out a few songs and an Elvis impersonator led us in the Club song.

Auction Part 3

The grand final was the final auction item - a pair of #14 jumpers signed by Skilts and Kel. Amazing - these went for $20,000! We finished with a video of highlights and a standing ovation for Kel. Lyndell Kelly drew the raffle and I didn't win - Amon you failed me.

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