The footy trip. The reason we all play footy.
It doesn’t matter how bad your year has been. Even if your club finished dead last without a single win, if you can manage to pull together a great footy trip, it will always be remembered as a successful year.
And on the flip side, your club could go undefeated in the seniors, reserves and thirds, but if all you can manage is eight blokes spending a weekend away in Shepparton, surely this is considered a wasted year requiring a full club review.
There is no greater night of the year than when you arrive at training and find the footy trip poster blue-tacked to the change room wall. Half the footy trip poster is always taken up by a picture of a beautiful blonde girl, wearing a bikini and holding a footy.
I’m pretty sure the only reason they have this picture is to remind all the players of the type of girl that will be going nowhere near them while on their trip. I reckon they should instead have a photo of a guy throwing his guts up in the disease-ridden toilets of $20 a night backpacker accommodation.
This would be a lot closer to any footy trip experiences I’ve ever had. The other half of the poster is where players interested in going on the trip can write their name and their preferred destination. Every year my name is the first one on the poster and my preferred destination is always Las Vegas. The fact that last year I had to borrow $500 from my mum just to cover flights and accommodation for 3 nights in Adelaide, suggests I would have trouble affording it if Vegas did get across the line but it’s my god given right to dream.
There is no bigger contrast on earth than the journey to a footy trip compared with the journey home from a footy trip. Whether it’s by plane, bus or even carpooling 100 kms down the highway, the trip to a footy trip is filled with absolute excitement. Often dressed in costume, grown men singing, laughing and drinking their way to the promised land. Every person filled with such joy at the inevitable fun that lies ahead.
The trip home could not be more different. The same men, the same form of transport, only headed in the opposite direction with the complete opposite outlook on life. That same teammate you felt so close to, felt such love for on the way there, just a few days later you can’t even look them in the eye. The entire team sitting silently, staring into their iPhones, doing anything to avoid conversation. This is perhaps the greatest example known to man that what goes up must come down and oh boy, does it come crashing down.
Probably the best barometer for a successful footy trip is the bond. Surely you can’t be happy if you get any of your bond back. I once heard about a team from Echuca that not only got their entire bond back, but were thanked by staff when checking out for being so well behaved. This made me sick in the guts and goes against everything a footy trip stands for.
My goal at the end of a footy trip is to not only have lost our entire bond, but to have all players banned from staying at that accommodation for at least 12 months.
Probably my proudest moment was after a recent footy trip to Hobart when the entire team was banned from entering the state of Tasmania for a decade. The only person not happy with this achievement was our Vice Captain Dovey, who was born and raised in Tasmania and now found himself unable to attend his mums 50th or any family Christmas for the foreseeable future.
As upset as he acted, I reckon even Dovey would admit it was worth it. It was one hell of a footy trip.
When I do finally retire I will have no issue adjusting to life after football but the thought of not going on a footy trip is something I struggle with. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, the footy trip is why we play footy.