A SMALL man with a smile as wide as the Great Southern Stand broke from the masses in the Hawthorn rooms.
“Hello, could you write a story about my son,’’ he said.
What’s your name?
“Enzo … Enzo Spangher. Enzo and June Spangher.”
Such a beautiful start to the beautiful story of Matt Spangher.
He is now a premiership player after watching from the sidelines as teammates won three previous flags — at West Coast, Sydney and Hawthorn.
There’s plenty of proud parents in the Hawthorn rooms, but the pride in Enzo was extreme, as though it wanted to burst out of his chest.
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“When Matt was at West Coast and he wasn’t getting two games in a row, I went up to a bloke called Walsh, he was an assistant coach, and I said him: ‘What does Matthew have to do to get into the side consistently?
“He said: `I don’t know, he does everything right, the only thing I can think of is he’s got to play 50 games’.
“And you know what, today he played 51 games. And that is as true as I sit here today.”
Enzo and June spoke of the journey. Some parents, perhaps Luke Hodge’s parents, would say they knew their son was always going to make it.
Not Enzo. “When he played junior footy I wasn’t sort of thinking he was going to make it. I didn’t have any expectation. I just followed his dream and helped him get his dream He was always determined that he was going to do it.”
Said June: “Matt was just a battler, he always set himself goals and has never given up in life on anything. I remember back when he was in Grade 5 at school, prefects form Xavier would come to the school and talk and he said to me, `Mum, one day I’m going to be a prefect at Xavier’.” Sure enough, he got it.
“He’s got a lot of determination. I’m so proud, just to know he made it.”
You never forget the rooms on Grand Final Day.
The losers slump and stare at the ground, the walls, at the nothingness, and it’s quiet like a funeral.
The winners act like it’s New Year’s Eve, only the celebration at the stroke of midnight goes on and on and on.
It’s a rare mix of people. The players are besieged by family, friends and the media, and Crownies abound.
The players have headphones on doing a radio interview or have dictaphones shoved down their throats or are posing for photos for iPhones. It’s a selfie tsunami.
Jordan Lewis, who was a smidge off the Norm Smith and had a smidge of blood on his cheek, at one stage had nine reporters surrounding him.
Old man Lewis was thrilled and didn’t even rubbish the Norm Smith judges.
“No one played bad, Hodge, Mitchell, Burgoyne, they’re all guns’’ he said. “And they had to come here to play, this is our ground.’’
Lewis joked that Hodgey was being greedy. “I lost by a vote they said. Hodgey should share it around.”
Josh Gibson had a ripper cut to the eyebrow to. “I think it was from Kennedy, I ran into him in third quarter … I haven’t seen it yet. I think it was his knee.’’
President Andrew Newbold: “Don’t worry, it makes you prettier anyway.”
The prez was gushing. It’s back-to-back premierships for his club and he wanted to put the emphasis on club.
“It’s good isn’t, it’s good for the boys,” he said. “But clubs win premierships, not teams.”
Ray Gunstan, the former Essendon chief executive, was with his son Jack, and former Hawk premiership player Brent Guerra was in Hodge’s posse.
“Just another Normie,” he said. “Not many win two Norm Smiths.”
Guerra was with the Hodge family and helped organise the family shot. “That’s Hodgey’s brother, sister, mum, uncle,” he said.
While some players looked battle-weary, Taylor Duryea didn’t have a hair out of place. He only played 21 minutes, but had nine touches playing on Lewis Jetta and Luke Parker. He didn’t care, his Crownie was cold.
Will Langford wasn’t cold, he was cool. He’s an interesting type as we all know and an enduring image in the post-match was of him sitting away from the players, in the middle of the ground, head in hands and probably a tear in the eye.
Asked to describe the scenes in the rooms, he cast a look and said: “Chaos … beautiful chaos. The boys, the families, it means a lot to the players to have everyone in here. It’s a pretty special moment, particularly considering back-to-back.’’
Everywhere you looked there was Crownies and smiles and pizza and iPhones.
But there’s happiness and out-of-this-world happiness. For Brad Sewell, it was just happiness.
He, and the other players who did not play, stood away from the madding crowd.
He had been on the ground after the siren and hugged them all, but now there was separation.
Sewell didn’t have any family there, neither did it seem the other players who did not play.
They looked on as we all did, probably jealous and certainly envious.
“It’s almost surreal,’’ Sewell said. “It’s a bizarre feeling. I’m absolutely ecstatic we won, but it’s surreal when you see them up on the podium, confetti coming down. You are a part of it but you’re so obviously not.”
What was the stronger feeling, ecstasy or disappointment?
“The ecstasy is definitely a stronger feeling than disappointment,” he said.
“The quiet moment will come when I’m on my own. I’ll wake up with a bit of sore head and it might sink in then.
“I certainly won’t feel sorry for myself, we’ve all been extremely, extremely lucky. No complaints whatsoever, but it’s all relative isn’t it, when you’re part it and when you’re not. But you can’t not be swept up in the euphoria that we’re experiencing now, it’s phenomenal.”
With that, Sewell was back with the other players. Moments later, Alastair Clarkson brushed by, stopped, gave a Sewell a hug and whispered something in his ear.
They both smiled when they parted.
They were in the same place, but different worlds.