He’s a legend at Ardmona, but hasn’t worn the blue and white hoops for eight weeks, yet Brent “call me Ralphy’’ Ralph is desperate to play in Sunday’s Battle of the Battlers against Nunawading.
The Cat’s ruckman relinquished the captaincy after a dodgy knee finally gave way and Ralphy also learned that he has played the best part of the season with a broken back.
Aside from the ailments Ralphy reckons he has one major hurdle to get over before deciding whether to run on at Koonung Reserve, for what might very well be his career swansong.
“The wife said no, but everyone’s got to have a retirement game’’ Ralphy said. “My knee’s stuffed and I’ve got five bulging discs and a broken bone in my back, so that’s why she doesn’t want me to play.
“I’m going to the physio this week and we’ll see how much of a hiding he gives me, but I want to be out there.
“And bugger these time-on quarters, I’m sick of playing 25-plus minute quarters. They should make it a flat 20 minutes so it’s a bit easier on us old blokes.’’
Ralphy, 33, started playing footy for Ardmona when he was 15. He was three-time champion ruckman of the Kyabram District Football League and said his hunger to get on the park next week was echoed throughout the club.
Ralphy said a win would be great, but feels that the match will be played in good spirits and expects much more respect from the Lions than the Cats receive from some KDFL rivals.
“Honestly mate there’s a few smart arses out there that start sledging and putting shit on us,’’ Ralphy said. “I’d like to smack some of them in the mouth. I don’t, but hey sometimes the umpires can’t see what going on at the bottom of the pack.’’
He talks tough and is a renowned hard-nosed player, but Ralphy admits to being brought to tears in 2013, when the Cats broke a two-year losing streak.
“Mate I don’t mind admitting that I cried my eyes out, along with most of the boys that day, it was a special moment,’’ he said. “Sure we’re having a lean trot again, but the boys turn up every week and there’s not a negative word said.
“You walk into the room before a game and wouldn’t know we lost last week. Every week it’s positive and we run out on to the field with our heads held high.’’
Average age of the Cats squad is around 23 and the young playing group is super keen for the clash with Nunawading. Banter at the club has been huge and Ralphy said players are stoked that Collingwood legend Dane Swan and other former greats will be in attendance.
For the Cats legend, Ralphy also hopes to grab a chat with the great BT, Brian Taylor, who will call the game.
“All the boys are talking about Swanny being there. But If I’m in the room after the game it would be great if BT came into our shed and did his roaming around, that would cap it off for me,’’ Ralphy said.