Rare chance to bask in the company of a legend

Saturday, May 25

DURING a footy season, you don't get a lot of time to think about the broader aspects of the game.

You go to training, you get yourself ready to play, then you play and then you start all over again, jumping from the ice tub to the hot tub.

And I don't mean the one Billy Brownless sits in on K-Rock every Monday.

So it was an absolute delight to take a bit of time out from the weekly grind and be at the launch of Geelong's Hall of Fame Ball last Tuesday at Crown Casino.

On one side of me I had Barry Stoneham, a great Geelong player from recent times with a great feel for the history of the game.

And on the other side, Fred Flanagan.

What a delightful man and what a great way to be reminded of past eras and of what the Geelong Football Club is really all about.

Our club is more than 150 years old. That makes us the second oldest football club, not just in Australia, but in the world.

Fred captained Geelong to two flags under the coaching of Reg Hickey. Both men are club legends, and have had that distinction officially bestowed on them by our Historical Committee.

The immediate links between Fred and me are the hoops and the fact we are captains. But I sensed a greater bond, that of being part of a club which has withstood the tough times on many occasions to rise to greatness and it will do so again.

In everything Fred said as we spoke, you could feel him urging the 2002 team on. While he loves the achievements of his team-mates of half a century ago, his burning desire is, like so many more, to see Geelong strong now.

Fred speaks quietly but with great authority. You find yourself entranced by what he has to say. He brings to life the people that you mostly hear about in history books.

He does all that with an insight you can only envy - that of a captain capable of inspiring his team to not just one premiership, but two.

And to a record for most games won in a row that not even the current mighty Brisbane side could match.

All Geelong supporters will get the chance to sit with Fred on June 21 when the club holds the Hall of Fame Ball, in the Palladium Room at Crown Casino. I've already got my ticket.