LONG BEFORE the latte became such a fashionable beverage, Lou Richards was introducing footy fans to the world of caffeine, as LAWRENCE MONEY recalls:
WELL BEFORE Lou Richards’ anxious call in the 1970s – “He was almost decaffeinated” – footy was becoming concerned with head-high tackles. The VFL – then the AFL – eventually decided that the head was king and had to be protected at all times.
Whatever else happens in the pack the bloke who gets biffed on the scone takes the free.
Medical staff are right on to it – players like Angus Brayshaw, of the Dees, now plays with a light helmet after being repeatedly knocked on the noggin. There’s an upside – as a Brownlow vote-catcher, the helmet’s better than a shock of blond hair.
However, what has never been discussed in footy is the proper procedure if a player does ever get decaffeinated.
Some clarity came through on Fox Footy during the recent Dogs-Pies showdown after Toby McLean ducked into a twin tackle and scored a free.
Brian Taylor: “If he’d stayed up, his head may not have been connected to his body.”
Wayne Carey: “Then he would have had a free kick.”
BT: “But he wouldn’t have had a head.”
Hamish McLachlan: “Then some else would have to take it.”
Handy to know. If a player is decaffeinated the free is taken by a team-mate, although it is unclear whether the headless player is allowed to play on with nothing above the shoulders.
Loss of bodily parts has long been a concern in footy, so much so that perhaps there should be a dedicated round and a theme jumper to raise awareness.
For example, Lou Richards once reported during a Pies match that Rene “The Incredible Hulk” Kink “read the play beautifully and his left foot went right through the centre”. The ball was thrown back but who knows where the foot ended up.
Now you might wonder how the heck the Hulk played out the rest of the match with only one remaining foot, but football players are remarkably resilient.
In fact, there was one occasion when the entire Pie team lost everything below the hips. As 3AW’s Bill Jacobs put it at the time: “Collingwood has run out of legs. They didn’t have legs at the start of the game in Sydney.”
Which explains why, when the team’s gear went through the laundry that week, there weren’t any socks.
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.