Posted by Tim “knows precious little about football” Harrison.
Today, August 17, marks one and potentially two auspicious events in the world of AFL football here in Melbourne.
Today is likely the day Ben Cousins will announce his retirement from the game.
This day also marks the 15th anniversary of “Ted” E J Whitten’s death from prostate cancer in 1995.
Now, as you may already have surmised, I know two tenths of an empty bottle about AFL. But I know a Good Sort when I see them. It’s perhaps a little sad that the 15th anniversary of the passing of a great footballer (in every sense of the word) will likely be overshadowed by the pontificating of a less than exemplary footballer.
Ben Cousins has surely faced his demons. Between health issues and run ins with the law over allegations of drug and alcohol problems, Cousins has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
E J Whitten, by stark contrast, was a legend who made headlines through his undeniable talent with the ball, his long-running career, his leadership of the Bulldogs and by being one of those men who inspired those around him.
Not long before his passing, Whitten took a lap around the MCG with his son and received an ovation not paralleled since. The song “Hero” by Mariah Carey laid the backdrop for the emotional event.
I’m not one to accept use of the word ‘hero’ in sport as it’s oft overused, but in the face of today’s AFL footballers ‘antics’ and disrespect for themselves and the game (vis a vis Jason Akermanis), the legend of the heroic E J Whitten must not be forgotten amid whatever kerfuffle comes out of today.