Eight clubs this week have experienced another bye week before they head into finals, but for me playing for the Gold Coast Suns and Carlton this was something I never had to experience as we knew our season was over in June.
We would have loved to play in finals but getting great prices midway through June for a September footy trip is also as good.
The breaks that the clubs give players are intended to refresh players, review the football program and have some time away from the demands of AFL football.
Our little bye weeks and days off up at the Suns were used to sink as many cans as we could. Normally we would get three days away from the club, not enough time to go home and visit family but enough time to have some fun up on the Gold Coast.
More than 35 18 to 20-year-old kids on the Gold Coast can be a dangerous thing. On our bye weeks we accomplished the following; being banned from Surfers Paradise and having a curfew of 1am on weekends. This intensified the days following Australia Day 2013.
We had trained hard that pre-season and we were allowed a few days off to freshen up, we were also made well aware not to make any mistakes.
Sure enough we made mistakes.
We had a big Australia Day party, every player on the list and their partners were invited, even some of coaches came round and dropped a few slabs off. We took that as a green light to celebrate! Its Australia Day, so what can go wrong?
Turns out a player getting pulled over by police and blowing three times the legal limit can go wrong. We weren’t that concerned because we had just started our three-day break.
Until we all get a message that went something like, “all players to report to the club for a meeting, bring training gear.”
Last time I saw 40 blokes rolling into the club dusty like this was when we were getting on the bus to mad Monday or to Brisbane international airport for footy trip.
We are all sitting in the meeting room stinking like piss and feeling sorry for ourselves. Sure enough we got a whack from the club and then we were told to get changed and head to the back oval.
Nothing ever good happens on the back oval and this was no different, there was stations set up, footys out and one of the coaches had a hose and was soaking one of the pockets of the oval. Its 30 degrees, we are all extremely hungover from our party and now we are about to be punished.
We completed a two-hour punishment session that included wrestling and tackling in that pocket that was drenched, running drills, contested marking drills and commando style boot camp exercises. There were boys who were on their haunches trying not to vomit and nursing their hangovers, it was a terrible quality session. The coaches didn’t care about how it was done they just wanted to make us pay for the night before.
After that they boys all felt extremely sorry for ourselves and only about 30 of us came around for beers that night to pick up where we left off.
What I’m trying to say, is that to all the players who have had a bye week this week leading into finals, I hope you have used it wisely and prepared the best way you can. Massages, ice baths, eating the correct food and 6-8 beers a night are all key leading into finals footy.
Good luck and go footy!