ROSS told me at our first meeting that it wasn’t going to be all sunshine and lollipops in the AFL. “They think you’re cute now Frankie but watch out if things start going wrong. And they will.”
After that stupid game with Essendon and then the trip to Lonnie where I let a couple of them get off the leash early I knew what Ross was talking about.
I didn’t play well in those games and I’m dog enough to cop my share of criticism. But really some of it is a bit stupid. Some people reckoned I’d be a better player if I shaved off my beard.
Now a lot of players grow beards over the summer. At some of the lower clubs they have competitions and that’s good because at least some of the players can experience a win. Ballas grew a neat beard over summer but it came off before the season started – we’re mates but we weren’t having a competition. My beard is not a summer beard. I’ve had it since I was a pup. You could say it’s cultural – it’s what Schnauzers have. I fact Carol, my stylist, is as important to my game as Jeff the physio. So the beard is not coming off.
Funnily enough I didn’t hear anyone complaining about my beard after I went first dog up at the boundary throw-in and got the ball down to Ballas in the last quarter.
After the game Ross wasn’t too happy but I got a laugh when I reminded Hilly and Micky Barlow (with a sideways look and a little bark) that we give footies to people in the crowd after we win not during the last quarter. Ross wasn’t in the room then.
This week it’s off to the Gold Coast. I’m looking forward to running on the beach feeling the breeze in my beard, plenty of sunshine and I hope we come home with the lollipops.