2017 ShamHOCk Diaries – Entry #1

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Haydn O’Connor – VAFAUA

Well Richmond won a flag and as a result the best option was to leave the riots of Swan St, free Dustin Martin haircuts and venture to the Emerald Isle.

The first edition of the 2017 Ireland Tour Diary, the “ShamHOCk Diaries” comes to you from the coincidentally named O’Connor Bus which presently is on route from the Dublin International Airport to Cork.

Sitting looking out the window at the beautiful green scenery roll on by with rain gently failing, the question that comes to mind is, how did I, and in the greater collective, the VAFA Touring Party get here?

Having a glance at the time on my phone it reads 9.05am 2nd October. After comparing to my watch, which is still stuck on Melbourne time at 7.05pm, which I can only assume is still Monday. With an estimated 3 more hours until we arrive Cork, someone much better than me at Maths can work out how much time we have travelled from Melbourne to Abu Dhabi to Dublin & currently onwards to the first destination on the 2017 Ireland Tour.

Flying out from Melbourne on Sunday afternoon, many of the touring party, gathered at the International Airport to embark on an exciting journey offered to very few in such a big competition. Umpiring week in and week out in the VAFA gives me a quick glimpse of the different clubs, the different cultures & different characters. An opportunity likes this will certainly give me a closer look at what makes the best players in the competition tick.

Observing from the plane, it was fascinating to see which players chose to watch Cars 3, while others selected the NRL Grand Final live on the entertainment systems, while Nick Armistead was seen thoroughly enjoying the Indian Cinematic options on offer.

I wish I could give more information into the sleeping patterns of the VAFA player, however being seated next to a member of the public on both flights, I can certainly recommend an older man’s snoring patterns for a replacement siren if the one at Elsternwick Park ever malfunctions in 2018.

Taking a step back from the initial travel and re-addressing the question of how we did get to this point, the VAFA side played a practice match last Tuesday Night against a Port Melbourne Gaelic Football side, Wolfe Toines.

The Gaelic side, not too conducive to the tackling pressure of the VAFA, asked for some of the rules to be changed to soften the physical side of the contest.

It is evident that the pace of International Rules and the adapting to the round-ball is something that the Big V will take time, but will certainly be up to the challenge with the way the group is bonding.

From an umpiring perspective, the learning of the laws for the Hybrid Game is something that will be a steep learning curve, however one that is exciting for all involved. Communication amongst the referees from Ireland (which I will meet on each game day) is something that will need to be high on the priority list.

The vibe amongst the group is that of excitement albeit with a strong undertone of tiredness, but with a Team Dinner scheduled for tonight along with a couple of days training before the first hit out on Thursday, I will have more to report in a couple of days.

Until then, to be sure, to be sure.