In celebrating his 300th game for Carlton on the weekend, Kade Simpson was recognised as one of the AFL greats in many categories.
He was remembered as one of the greatest Blues, after becoming just the fifth to reach the 300-mark. He was also recognised as one of the game’s best ever small defenders, one of the most consistent ball-users in modern times and deservedly, one of the most resilient players to have pulled on the boots, performing week-after-week in an underperforming side.
The superlatives flowed, and so they should. Simmo, we salute you.
One category, however, that was carelessly overlooked by commentators and fans was his undeniable position in the AFL’s greatest ever long sleeve team – which the Magoos boys on 1116 SEN on Sunday night had a crack at naming.
He joins elite company, a material-fond brethren who’d undoubtedly welcome in their newest member.
When you remember Kade Simpson in 20 years time, one vivid memory will stick out: dashing off the half-back line, ball in hand, pipes and levers covered.
And the fact that this sight is becoming rare in modern times is sad. You see, back in the 70s and 80s, there was no crisis in masculinity (there probably was) and wearing long-sleeves didn’t make you ‘less of a man’ than the pipe-wielding Adonis next to you. You just preferred the feel of polyester (or cotton depending on your vintage) from the shoulders down. Simple.
You didn’t, for instance, have a coach who issued a club-wide ban on long sleeves, something Alastair Clarkson has done at Hawthorn.
Hawks vice-captain Isaac Smith found this out when he arrived at the club in 2010.
“From 12 years of age until I was 22 and was drafted, I wore a long sleeve every week,” he said recently on Melbourne radio.
“Then I got to Hawthorn and they said they were doing the jumper fittings, so I said ‘sweet, I’ll get the long sleeve’. And they said ‘Clarko doesn’t let anyone wear long sleeve’.”
Huh? Does it disrupt the club’s ‘optics’, Clarko? The aesthetics of modern footballers is vanilla enough to deny players the chance to cover-up the pipes and, simply, be different. For all the talk about the ‘look of the game’ in the first half of this season, this is one issue that should be front and centre. Research has unequivocally shown that the younger generation are more drawn to the game when players are donning full sleeves. A sleeved-quota, or something that ensures sleeved preservation in our great game, should be on Gil McLachlan’s list of issues to address.
Nevertheless, it was fitting that Melbourne turned on a cold and drizzly day on Saturday, for Simpson to look right at home. It brings us back, to happier times.
Our greatest ever long sleeve team (as discussed on the Magoos) is as follows: