2004 03 18 - Bronwyn Evans - Off The Field - Charles Edmonston's Toast

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Last week, I offered my organs to the Organ Donor people. Well, who the hell else would want them?

When I revealed that next year I will be 90, even the girl on the phone sounded a little dubious. "Oh" she said, "then perhaps we'd better come out and collect them now?"

I said "Could you hang on until Tuesday, I've an important function on Monday night - better still could you wait 'till the end of the season, I just may have a premiership to celebrate ..."

"Are you sure you'll still be here?"

"Lady, I've been following the Swans for 80 odd year, and in all that time I have watched them win only one flag, and I had to ride my push bike almost 200 miles from Wodonga to Melbourne to do that. So, I'm not about to topple off the twig now, as we stand on the threshold of winning another."

During World War II I managed, purely by luck, to survive 5 years as a single engine pilot. I mention this because in many ways a Fighter Squadron reminds me of a football team. Same age group, 26 pilots at full strength to a fight Squadron, a need to practice one's skills over and over and over again until one is able to act purely by instinct. In an emergency, survival could, for us, well depend on choosing the right option. I could well be talking about footy couldn't I? Relentless honing of skills, eye on the ball, choosing the right option. Recipe for survival.

How did I get hooked on South Melbourne / Swans? I grew up in the border town of Wodonga - Rules country, with every kid in the school having his own special team - bloody Collingwood! Gordon Coventry was everyone's hero - except for me. My idol - Bobby Pratt. In consequence, from the age of 9, I have been a dedicated supporter of the Red and Whites.

Several years ago, I happened to be in the area when the Swans played Richmond in a pre-season match at a place called Barooga. I was greatly impressed by a young fellow trying out for the Swans, tearing up and down the ground; picking up plenty of possessions, getting to within kicking distance of goal, blazing away and landing the ball mostly in amongst the spectators. I said to my wife - "if this fellow could learn to kick we'd have an absolute champion." He did learn to kick, and went on brilliantly to captain the Swans for 10 years, a true champion as I had so astutely predicted. The inimitable Kels.

It has been my privilege over the years to see all three triple Brownlow medallists in action. In a pre-season practice match, playing for Wodonga against Albury, I found myself matched against the great Hayden Bunton, first of that illustrious trio. By quarter time, we had picked up 23 kicks between us. Hayden got 22. The one I got was a free. At quarter time, my Captain's hand on my shoulder smote. He said "You know Charlie, I think he's showing signs of getting on top of you, so I'm moving you to the forward pocket." There I remained for the rest of an undistinguished career, occassionally finding myself up against resting ruckman Fraser Gehrig's 6 foot plus grandfather.

I see that the umpire's association are actually thinking of giving Barry Hall a free kick this season. Plugger will be green with envy. By the way Barry, I'm sure Roosy will be able to explain what you do with a free.

I have spoken of the three triple Brownlow winners. Well I believe we have a fellow who just may equal, even outdo them. Adam Goodes.

The obvious thing for me to do now, would be to appeal to the rest of you to get behind Adam to help him achieve that objective. Instead, I'm going to ask you all to do your utmost to beat him to it; not for the sake of winning the medal, but for the purpose of winning that elusive flag.

Fellows, it's time. We have the coach. We have the talent. And for inspiration, younger players need only look for sheer guts and determination to your former captain Paul Kelly and former coach Ron Barrassi.

So, put on those new season jumpers. Each has a number to be worn with pride every time you take the field - a number you will carry in your hearts for the rest of your days. Whilst I never went anywhere near reaching the heights you have, I do carry in my heart the two numbers I wore, of special significance to the Swans - 4 and 14.

So go to it Swannies.

Let this be the year of the Swans. Over optimistic? Maybe, it will take another year or two, but then who imagined, at this time last year, we would finish where we did.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please be upstanding as we toast the 2004 Sydney Swans.

The Sydney Swans!

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