It may just be a friendly game of Cadbury AFL 9s, but for Andy Maher it’s personal.
When the Morning Glory radio host leads the SEN All-Stars on to Etihad Stadium this Sunday at half time of the Essedon v Port Adelaide clash, he knows this may be his last shot at glory.
“My heart is still heavy thinking back to that day all those years ago,” Maher said.
Old Marcellin were favourites to win the 1983 Under 19s VAFA grand final and I had 97 goals for the season.”
All the pre-game talk from my teammates was how good it would be if I kicked 100 and we won a flag on the same day.”
Unfortunately for Maher, football is a great leveller and when the final siren sounded, he had kicked two goals seven (99 for the year) and his side had fallen to Fawkner by just three points.
For some, it would be enough to give the game away but Maher is determined to have his redemption on the big stage this Sunday.
The SEN side, or Maher’s men, as he refers to them, will take on the ‘Snakes’; a team which competed in the Cadbury AFL 9s Carlton 2012/13 Summer Competition and was randomly selected to take on the SEN All-Stars at Etihad Stadium.
Maher is no stranger to the game of Cadbury AFL 9s after playing a crucial role in his side’s premiership campaign in the Vic Park Cadbury AFL 9s competition last season.
But despite his credentials, the experienced journalist has tried to keep his expert knowledge of the game quiet in order to avoid special attention at Etihad this Sunday.
“I have been prone to going missing if I get a heavy tag, but I’m backing myself to perform on the big stage,” Maher said with a laugh.
“I see myself as a bit of an outside specialist. If I get goal side of my man, look out, I will be very dangerous.”
With a wealth of former AFL champions including names like Watson and Brereton in the SEN offices, Maher said the pressure on the chosen squad was enormous.
“There is massive pressure on the playing group,” he said.
“A lot of blokes in the SEN office have been at their best on the big stage and this is our chance to replicate their actions. Their reputations are on the line and this hasn’t gone un-noticed in our team. We will fly under the SEN flag on Sunday.”
Tony Schebeci, Mark Fine, Jason Richardson, Brett Thomas and a couple of SEN staff members will join Maher in the Cadbury jumpers, all hoping to get a piece of glory under the roof of Etihad Stadium.
“Finey’s an uncompromising character, a real spiritual leader but if ever there was a person in danger of fronting the match review panel after an AFL 9s game, Finey is the man,” Maher said.
The Schebecstar will be our workhorse and we’ll need him to do some of the bullocking work in the ruck, while we’ll release Richo on the outside and let him run.
Maher said he was also expecting big things from the SEN staffers joining the team.
“Brett Anderson is a guy who really rates himself around the office but is coming back from a rib injury, so we’ll need to get the doc onto that.”
“It is a great concept and a great game. The rules make sense and while anyone can play, you still have that great feeling of using your football nouse and skills.Maher said he loved playing Cadbury AFL 9s and expected the game to continue to grow.
“The competition I played in last year was extremely well run and played in great spirits. It was fun and friendly, a great mix of a social environment but also competitive enough to have fun and try to win.”
For all information on the Cadbury AFL 9s Summer Social Competitions that will begin in November, please visit www.afl9s.com.au.
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