Searching for sport’s four-leaf clover

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WHO COULD have imagined that the fortunes of the Melbourne Football Club have been resting for decades on LAWRENCE MONEY’S lost socks? He reveals the shocking truth:

IN THE eternal search for the secret of golf, I have considered many possibilities. Now, thanks to US Masters champ Patrick Reed, that search may be over.

Reed’s triumph in Augusta this month had nothing to do with swing or timing. He wasn’t fussed, like us amateur hackers, about the brand of ball to be used, the latest maxi-dimple graphite-core pill, guaranteed to give extra length.

Reed didn’t need the Leadbetter swing chart or the Jack Nicklaus grip to win the green jacket. It was much simpler than that.

“Patrick is superstitious,” one Fox commentator told viewers as Reed closed in on the prize. “He won’t go to sleep at night before all the doors in his house are shut.”

Bingo. As simple that. Sounds bizarre but it sure worked for Patrick and in the unlikely event I crack an invitation to play in the Masters — or even the D-grade comp at the local club – my house will be shut up, tight as a drum, on the evening prior.

See, you never know whether some supernatural force may give that winning advantage. I twigged to that that fact decades ago during the glory days of the Melbourne Football Club – half a century ago now – when I always wore my Demon socks to the Grand Final. In five of our seven consecutive grand finals those socks brought home the bacon.

I still firmly believe that the decline of the club as a football force after 1964 was not due to supercoach Norm Smith being sacked, or the tragedy of losing captain Ron Barassi to Carlton, it was due to the fact I lost my lucky socks. No replacement socks since then have helped bring another flag and no alternative superstition has helped either.

Keys to success. Artwork: Gordon Napier
Keys to success. Artwork: Gordon Napier

For example, on Grand Final day 1988 I planted my wife and kids on a particular section of the bench seating on the top deck of the old MCG Olympic stand, seeking to channel the vibes from the 1950s when I would sit in the same position with cousins Peter and David to watch the Dees win those flags. That day in 1988 was Melbourne’s first appearance in a Grand Final for 24 years but it was a disaster – it rained (there was no shelter), the bride (and I think the daughter) went home at half-time and the Hawks belted the Dees by almost 100 points. If only I had had those socks it may have been a different story.

Yes, it’s superstition and it’s rife in sport. Tennis champ Jimmy Connors always bounced the ball five times before a serve. Phillies baseballer Richie Ashburn would take his bat home and sleep with it. AFL forward Jack Riewoldt, according to the website Rookie Me, still tries to be the last Tiger in the team to step on to the ground before a match. Former Lions star Jason Akermanis used to put on his socks and boots in the same sequence.

On the website The 30 Strangest Superstitions in Sports History we learn that Canadian baseballer Larry Walker – the Major League’s most valuable player in 1997 – was obsessed with the number 3. He wore number 33, obtained a phone number with multiple threes, waited to get out of bed until 33 minutes past the hour – and got married on 3 November at 3.33pm.

Then there’s Patrick Roy, a Canadian ice-hockey goalie, who reportedly talks to his goal-posts during a game. “They are my friends,” he told one bug-eyed media flack. Yeah, r-r-r-ight… You know, shutting the doors at home before a round of golf suddenly doesn’t seem quite so nutty.


Reigning BIM champ Dwayne Russell (2018): “Naitanui’s saying — if you’re going to kick it short, a tall would be a better option.”

Daisy Pearce (2018): “The doc’s actually had a look — he got the iPhone out to look at both his eyes.”

Peter Le Grand, distilling the goal-kicking art down to its fundamentals (1983): “He’s only got to kick it straight and get the distance for a goal.”


Author: Lawrence Money

Lawrence Money has twice been named Victoria’s best newspaper columnist by the Melbourne Press Club. He wrote columns for 37 years on the Melbourne Herald, Sunday Age and daily Age — and in Royalauto and Your Sport magazines — before retiring in 2016 after a 50-year career in journalism.
He still treads the speaking circuit, does radio gigs, tweets on @lozzacash and chases a long-gone 13 golf handicap. He clings to the eternal hope that the Melbourne Demons will once again win a flag.



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