The Summer of Guest rolls on!
Today, Twitter’s favourite image poster, Chris (@youjustsaycc), gives us a touching tale of watching his son growing up with Brad Fittler at the Roosters and how sometimes memories are best left in the bank — because new memories have a funny way of pushing out the old ones.
Chris comes from a point of authority that I can only dream of having, being a supporter of the club for longer than I’ve been alive. He began his support in 1974 as a 10-year-old, or a year before colour television came on the market and gave us Roosters fans the perfect response to Souths fans who claim we are forever in their shadow i.e. “how many of those 20 premierships have been in the colour TV era?”
He recalls the glory days when giants such as Arthur Beetson, Ian Schubert, John Peard and Mark Harris all inspired, but he holds a special place in his heart for Freddy, as many of us do. And I’ll admit it: when it comes to Fittler, I’m a blithering mess. In my eyes, he can do no wrong, and him holding up those hands to the fans in 2002 brought out a torrent of tears I thought would only be drawn out through the death of a loved one. Or from watching Marley and Me.
When the announcement was made that Fittler was potentially back, I didn’t even think twice: “This is awesome”. But Chris makes a valid point that has me taking that second thought.
Please, Brad: Don’t do it.
Few sportsmen in this country have truly inspired me to tears. But being a Roosters supporter and having Brad Fittler sign for the club changed my view entirely on how sports players can change the way a club is perceived, and also changed my idea of what it means to be a true fan.
I actually started going to games when the Roosters signed him in 1996. At the time having a son under five — that I had only on weekends — presented challenges, but he took to the footy and eventually to Fittler like everyone else did.
I remember early on that my son’s main focus at games was getting down to see the mascot to get a high five, only to come back up the aisle with tears in his eyes because the mascot had already gone past or he was pushed out of the way. I would cheer him up by telling him that he would come around again in the second half only to see the same thing happen again.
As all good kids know, if you do your homework you will get results and it only took him a few games to work out where the mascot was. He finally got his first high five. He ran back up the aisle, fist pumping, to tell me.
That was the first time I cried but the few sitting nearby that witnessed it didn’t laugh. They merely understood and cheered.
I think it might have been the next season when we started sitting in bay 13, right next to the tunnel, that he started to understand the players and who they were. He would ask who each player was and how I rated them.
He certainly knew who Brad Fittler was.
He studied him like a hawk and even at his early age understood just how good this guy was. Time and time again he would reach down the tunnel trying for that elusive high five from Freddy, only to miss out and get all upset. This went on for months.
I remember the day like it was yesterday when I was coming back with food at half time one day in the middle of August, stepping over people to get back to the seat when I saw my son nearly falling into the tunnel but jumping back out and yelling at me:
“Dad, I just got a high five from Brad Fittler!”
Well,that was it for me. I lost it and burst into tears. The people we were sitting next to understood the moment and dutifully cheered and I quickly composed myself, but the look on his face was priceless and the memory etched forever.
We won that day, on many levels, and it was just one of the many “Brad Fittler moments” that my son and I would see together over the years. From the game-changing moments to the orchestrated come from behind wins, we witnessed them all.
That’s the Brad Fittler I remember.
Fast forward to 2014 and my son is all grown up, and is only a few years away from the age of our current first-grade players. We then hear that Fittler has announced he wants to make a comeback, albeit in the “Nines” tournament. At first I though it was crazy; once it was established that he was fair dinkum, I went through all the emotions that most people are going through now.
Then I had a good, long think about it: what happens if something goes wrong?
No one would want to see him taken off the field injured or with a busted hammy. While he is seemingly fit and the old side step will be there along with the cut-out passes, he has 20 years on these guys. History is littered with failed comebacks and while this is not a “comeback” in the true sense of the word he will be on public display and there for the target.
Nothing should go wrong for him but there is the chance. I would prefer to remember the old Brad Fittler, not the new old Brad Fittler. He has done enough in the game and doesn’t need to risk this.
So Freddy, don’t do it. I’m done crying.