Pumped Up Kicks

20 June 2012 | 2:13 pm | Bryget Chrisfield

Rockdogs: "Never say never." Megahertz: "We’ve got our game together."

Kicking her Sherrin down memory lane, RRR/PBS Megahertz co-captain Maddy Mac, who co-hosts The Breakfast Spread on PBS, reflects on past Community Cup glory: “When we won a couple of years back [in 2010], I remember watching the final second from the end of the pitch and the Megahertz mark in front of the goal, and Stew [Farrell] lining up to take the kick, and I sort of knew it then, like, I knew we were gonna win. And then when we did get the goal and the final siren sounded. I just ran into the middle of the pitch and got this giant, sweeping hug from big John Origlasso. I think it was just this beautiful moment when I was just sorta swept off my feet. I'll remember that.”

Dan Sultan, skipper of the Espy Rockdogs and Mac's competition, remembers it differently. “To lose was pretty devastating,” he admits. “We lost by a point and it was dubious, I'll just put it that way. So we wanted to come back. And it was good last year, we smashed 'em, and I felt like everyone had a contribution to the win and it was a really good day.” Two consecutive wins under his captaincy are what Sultan is hungry for. “Well, I said to [the players] at training the other night, I said, 'Look, there's a difference – good teams win games of footy and great teams go back-to-back.' So I'd like to go back-to-back before I relinquish the captaincy, I think. But then again, whatever happens happens and I'm sure it's gonna be a good day regardless.”

Of last year's scoreboard, Mac chuckles, “Oh, look, you need not remember the scores [defeated by a margin of 35 points. Sorry]. It's a brand new slate each year. We were flogged last year, but I think last year was the first time – we lost so badly, but I came away so delighted [laughs]. Like, I think the first year I was actually pretty moody that we lost. I don't know what I was expecting, but I was sorta put out that, after all my thinking about it, we didn't win. But we've got our game together in recent years.”

So how confident are the Rockdogs going into this one? “You always try to be a bit confident, but there's another team out there – and they wanna win and they train as well, and a lot of them enjoy the game and enjoy the day, and they get amongst it – so you can never say never. But we're reasonably competitive and there's some people in the team that're reasonably handy as well. Hopefully when we win this year it might be a bit of a challenge, but we'll wait and see.”

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Sultan is particularly proud to wear his Espy Rockdogs colours of black, red, white and yellow. “We get the Saints [St Kilda, his chosen AFL team] colours and we also get the colours from the flag, too, so it works out pretty well if you're indigenous and you barrack for the Saints,” he points out. While some Rockdogs have donned the guernsey in previous years, the 2012 team also introduces “a few new faces” and, according to Sultan, “It's true, a team that knows each other's names wins footy.” As for his red and white guernsey-wearing opponents, Mac concurs, “You do retain a lot [of players], but then there are also people that love the match and just come and go through circumstance, like, RRR keep having babies! I know a few of our key women –  Jacinta Parsons has just recently had a baby and Donna [Morabito], who was a past Megahert, is pregnant so they're sorta resting this year. But it's always great to have new broadcasters on the team as well.”

So who would Mac say is the Megahertz secret-weapon player this year? “One of the PBS medallists from last year, Marisa Quigley. She's awfully tall so I think she's gonna be handy for us. I think those arms flailing should really intercept a bit.” On whether there's a Megahert worthy of winning an award for comedic value, she handballs it to the opposition: ”I think there are a few Rockdogs who have got a bit of comedic skill.”

“It's not something you wanna take too seriously,” Sultan contributes, “It's still just a BBQ with bands and maybe a bit of footy, you know?” When asked to pinpoint his most impressive footballing achievement, Sultan enthuses, “Last year I kicked a goal from about 50 metres out on the boundary line in the first quarter, and it was at the stage of the game where we'd got a couple of goals and [the Megahertz] looked like they were gonna get a few and then I sorta kicked that goal. Then I think there was a couple of other goals kicked by us in succession and it sorta just set up the whole day. It was good to get a goal in a winning team. I don't by any means think that that won us the game, but it was good to contribute. Particularly as the captain, you need to. I'm reasonably useless on the footy field so it just felt good to actually be able to do something,” he laughs.

Mac's proudest moment on the field is bittersweet. “I remember, I reckon two years ago, there was this giant kick in the middle of the field and it came down just right of where I was, and my opposition and I started pelting after it… I got the ball quite ruthlessly, handballed it off, but then I think Leaping Larry L who called it as a throw over in the commentary box, though I have proof that it was a legitimate handball.” The moment was captured on video, which Mac has since viewed. So did she protest the decision? “I don't think there was any going back, but I know the truth of the moment,” she laughs.

One thing these skippers can agree upon is their favourite Community Cup memory. “I remember one of my favourite moments that I've seen, or heard about, at a Cup was [when] The Spazzys ordered a pizza and went out and sat in the centre square, while the game was going on, and ate a pizza and drank beer. Just sat down. That was great and that's the spirit.”

“I remember The Spazzys,” Mac echoes. “It would've been the third or fourth quarter and they ordered in pizza and it was delivered to them on the field. [They] ate it and then started hitting the Megahertz with the boxes. And they got away with it!” Did they eat the pizza and then play on? “I think they scoffed some of it and then smashed a bit into someone else's face. They're cunning those Spazzys, gotta watch 'em.”

Weighing up her love of music against sport, Mac muses, “What I enjoy so much about music is that it makes a moment, whether it's live or on an album. I guess that's what I love so much about sport as well. And even the concept of the jam in music, you get together and play – I think you can be improvisational like that in sport. It just takes one ball of any variety and a couple of people, a couple of friends, and you've got a match.”

Sultan struggles to balance these passions in his life. “Sometimes music misses out and sometimes sport misses out,” he ponders. “It depends on what I'm more interested [in] at the time. I think lately it's been a good balance, the last five or so years. But I think it's a good Australian trait that culturally we love our sport and we love our entertainment. Particularly a city like Melbourne, you know.” And The Reclink Community Cup combines both of these passions. “Exactly, both of those things working in unison.”

Reclink To The Rescue

Reclink CEO Adrian Panozzo may not barrack for an AFL team, but the Community Cup rocks his world.

There was a year when the Community Cup didn't go ahead. The dark year was 2008 and the story goes that Sacred Heart Mission pulled out due to the increasing cost of staging the annual charity event. Although RRR tried to save it, the radio station was unable to secure a new charity organisation to partner up with in time. And that's where Reclink comes in. Adrian Panozzo was a “15-plus-year volunteer at the Cup” and also “worked on and off at the AFL for almost 20 years” before being appointed CEO of Reclink, a title he's held for four years now.

Panozzo remembers all too well when the Cup fell over. “I was just surprised that it wasn't on that year. And then we said, 'Look, hey, Reclink does music, footy – it'd be a great fit.' Without much understanding of, 'Well, if it fell over...' we felt that it was an event that probably would be missed and needed to come back.”

After closely observing the Community Cup players – Espy Rockdogs and RRR/PBS Megahertz – over the years, Panozzo explains, “They're masters of their own destiny in the field they work in, and to see them at the Community Cup, it's this juvenile excitement. It's almost like a sandpit moment where they immerse themselves in it and they know that it's only there for the day and then they can't do it again for another year. And you speak to some of them and they think, 'Oh, jeez, this might be my last year', you know?”

Surprisingly, Panozzo doesn't support any specific AFL team. “I can watch footy and not experience the anxiety/pain of my friends who are invested in the game,” he offers. “And so I can sit there and go, 'I'm enjoying this, but mate you're emotionally affected. Like, seriously,'” He laughs. “So there's this agony or ecstasy, and if they win, great, but that's still vicarious: [the spectators] haven't done anything. And if it's a negative experience it's like, 'You are seriously affected and you're gonna need time to get over it'.”       

Panozzo takes it upon himself to mingle with attendees on the day to get feedback and gauge the quality of the punter experience. He tells of an attendee leaving the ground last year who, when asked to describe his day, replied, “Perfect Community Cup: footy crap, music awesome.”