What follows are the official minutes of a mid-season crisis meeting of the Adelaide Football Club. After four losses on the trot, club honchos have convened for a mid-season review, to resolve ongoing issues arising from a burgeoning injury list and continued fallout from a preseason mind training camp. A group of men sit in a West Lakes office. The Richmond theme song is heard playing repeatedly in the background.
ANDREW FAGAN: Ok guys, I brought you all in because I think it’s time we cleared the mechanism about the season so far. In a nutshell – it’s not going very well, is it?
DON PYKE: Yes, I’d say it was a fail.
BRETT BURTON: Actually guys, I’d prefer to say that we’ve had some good ‘learnings’ this season. We’re always learning, you know – I don’t think we ever stop learning.
FAGAN: Yeah, you’re right. We now know exactly what we shouldn’t do to have a successful season.
PYKE: Essentially, everything we did this year.
ROB CHAPMAN: Come on fellas, I’m not convinced we got this wrong… our strategy, in my view, was in no way flawed. It’s just the reaction to it that I can’t get my head around.
FAGAN: Well, look… I think it’s a good idea if we get a genuinely independent, impartial outsider to do a bit of a review, just so we can say that we got an independent, impartial review. So I’m pleased to say that I’ve invited John Reid along to take care of it for us.
Reidy, you’ve done a bit of work – what can you tell us?
PYKE: Um… well, we have to ask questions about it, otherwise we won’t be able to tick those boxes, mate. Can you at least tell us how we can start winning a few games?
BURTON: Anyway, I just want to make the point that there are no lingering issues here. We just need to learn to execute a few things better.
FAGAN: I agree. So who should we execute first?
BURTON: No, no, I didn’t mean that. This isn’t about assigning blame. And importantly, there are no lingering issues. We all make decisions collectively as the leadership group of a footy department. We’ve looked at the past and the things we’ve done and we know how we can get better.
CHAPMAN: Which is how, exactly?
BURTON: Well, I’m not going into any specific detail about our program, but suffice to say: there are no lingering issues.
PYKE: Look, perhaps it would be better if we heard from the playing group’s perspective. Tex?
TAYLOR WALKER: YEEEAAAAHHH BRRRUUUUSSSSSS! I am one excited young man.
PYKE: Mate, we just thought we’d get you along to talk about what the issues were with the camp and what’s going on this year.
WALKER: Pykey. Mate. The blokes at that camp could talk the wool off a sheep, fair dinkum.
CHAPMAN: What could they have done differently?
WALKER: We’re more about preseason camps where we’re running up hills or carrying logs. This whole thing was just three days of chat – too many Boofheads sitting around having an opinion.
BURTON: Look, Tex, these guys are not psychologists. They never professed to be psychologists. They’re mental skills coaches. That’s much better.
PYKE: You see, Tex, we’ve made a lot of progression in the physical side. But the frontier that has not been tapped into considerably is the ‘mind space’. The mind controls the body.
WALKER: Sick, bruz.
CHAPMAN: Tex, the question is: what is one’s mind? Wiser heads than mine can tell you we only use about five or six per cent of our brain.
WALKER: (Counting on his fingers) That’s a lot.
CHAPMAN: Well, some of us might not use that much.
WALKER: Look, Chappy, it’s a good question, the Why? We need to work out the Why. We’re not playing good footy and we need to find out Why. So we’re searching for Why.
FAGAN: Ok guys, look. Onwards we march. What do we do now?
BURTON: Well, the important thing is: we’ve got a playing group that’s happy.
PYKE: Except McGovern.
WALKER: Ous Ous, big Aussie boy….
CHAPMAN: What do you mean? I’ve just told the media that any rumours or statements about Gov wanting out are ridiculous.
PYKE: Look, I walk around in the world like everyone else and, generally, where there’s smoke there’s fire.
FAGAN: Well, that’s just great. What’s the problem?
PYKE: Well, to put it simply: I think there are some aspects of his remuneration that haven’t hit the mark and aren’t resonating for him. So we’ve got a few boxes to tick there.
WALKER: Money hungry – very sad. There is no loyalty anymore!
FAGAN: But wasn’t all this preseason guff supposed to bring the playing group together?
PYKE: Well, they’re united in a sense. Against us, generally… Look, at the end of the day, we ticked a few boxes, and I won’t be an apologist for us trying to get better.
FAGAN: But we’re not better?
PYKE: No, it hasn’t worked.
WALKER: Yewwwwwwww… go you good thing.
FAGAN: Look, fellas. Let me tell you a story that might help put this all into perspective. After we lost the other day, I went home, worked a chunk, hugged my girls, hit the gym and then went for a 10k run.
FAGAN: It’s just the usual post loss routine to clear the mechanism, mate.
PYKE: What’s ‘clear the mechanism’ actually mean anway?
FAGAN: It’s a baseball term. Didn’t you ever watch that Kevin Costner film? Anyway, we’re all about baseball at this club now, so you’d best get with the lingo.
BURTON: So what’s you point, Fages?
FAGAN: The point is, I thought it worked. And then, as I was sitting there composing a tweet to our fans, my two-year-old daughter came over to me and reminded me of that quote from Sartre about how “nothingness lies coiled in the heart of being, like a worm”.
WALKER: (long pause) Well… you know how that old saying goes, Fagedog – Scooby-doo can doo-doo… but Sartre is smarter!
(The room falls silent. The Richmond theme song continues to play in the background. A tumbleweed blows past.)
FAGAN: Go figure. It’s good advice. Anyway, boys. Hard week of work ahead. Onwards we march.
CHAPMAN: And the main thing is, this club’s not sitting on its hands. We’ve put that camp business behind us. We’ve dealt with it. It’s dealt with. And we’ll keep dealing with it.
WALKER: Don’t vuuurrryyy aboutttt it.
The group departs.
And also, for another season, does your Fumbles correspondent. May next season be less completely disastrous in every conceivable way. Except for Port.
*The above conversation may not correspond entirely with any actual events.
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