Football as modern art (feat. Eddie Betts)

Ken Sakata Columnist

By , Ken Sakata is a Roar Expert

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    Samo Petrevski-Seton could have handballed with his left. I know this because I’ve seen the replay two dozen times.

    Instead, surrounded by three closing defenders, he delivered a spinning banana-handball with his right. It floated over to an open Patrick Cripps, who kicked the goal.

    I hadn’t seen anything like it. So I looked it up.

    The term ‘banana handball’ gets 73 results on Google. Most are in relation to a Japanese woman on Instagram who has decided to include the hashtags #banana and #handball into a photo of her having drinks with friends.

    I am Japanese myself. This is still curious to me.

    There’s only one result relating to Australian rules football. It’s Samo Petrevski-Seton.

    It triggered memories of the last Carlton player to do ridiculous, incredible things. He still does ridiculous things, of course, but for another. He seems happier too.

    I am not happier. Carlton’s list is half quality and half bus manifest of a Contiki tour. It still hurts to see him in passing.


    Magic and The Magician
    Artist: Eddie Betts
    Medium: Contested mark + Dribble kick on Adelaide Oval grass

    Please do not leave your seats. A brief Q and A to follow.

    Q: What is happening in this piece?

    A: There are two acts.

    Firstly, Eddie Betts competes for a mark with Port Adelaide’s Tom Jonas.

    Q: Who is Tom Jonas?

    A: Let me tell you about Tom Jonas. Tom Jonas is 189cm and 89kg. He’s big.

    Last year, Jonas got six weeks for knocking out a smaller player in the forward pocket. West Coast’s Andrew Gaff was unconscious for two minutes.

    Q: Oh.

    A: Andrew Gaff is the exact same weight as Eddie Betts. Which is 11kg lighter than Jonas.

    Tom Jonas is running towards Eddie Betts. This is not a good situation.

    Q: What happens?

    A: It’s better if I show you.

    Q: What is Tom Jonas doing on the floor?

    A: Women’s Health magazine describes it as one-half of sexual position ‘The Spider’.

    Q: Tell me about the second act.

    A: For his next trick, Eddie kicks for goal. He’s being forced into his non-preferred side by human spider, Tom Jonas.

    He can (A) risk running back into Jonas to get to his preferred foot. (B) Snap with his left or (C) Kick a drop punt on the run. The angle isn’t horrible.

    Adelaide are down by three goals. They need this one to count. Most guys kick the drop punt.

    Q: Does Betts kick a drop punt?

    A: The answer is (D). Eddie Betts kicks a right-footed dribble kick from the left pocket. The ball dances to the middle.


    Q: He’s outbodying bigger opponents and kicking ridiculous goals.

    A: I know, Eddie Betts is a magician.

    Q: A ‘magician’? Is that like ‘freak’, or ‘excitement machine’?

    A: Jesus. I didn’t say that. Don’t trap me in racist semiotics.

    You go to a magic show. For a brief time, you believe that the magician is otherworldly, supernatural. But you know he’s not. Because magic isn’t real.

    Eddie Betts of the Crows

    Then you enjoy it because you realise magic is a combination of several very specialised abilities. It requires motor skills like sleight of hand to misdirect an audience. It also requires abstract thinking to plan three, four moves ahead.

    Q: So you’re saying Betts is not a wizard, he’s a magician.

    A: How do you kick a right-footed dribble from the left pocket under pressure? He wasn’t bitten by a radioactive Jonas. It’s technical ability and practice.

    To call Eddie ‘magic’ or a ‘freak’, is underselling what he’s doing here.

    Q: Is this a successful piece?

    If you see magic, it’s prosaic. It’s Eddie Betts doing Eddie Betts things. Whatever, right?

    If you see a magician, an experienced and skilled performer, a man who has mastered kicking goals anywhere within 40m, it is very very impressive.

    I love Eddie Betts.

    Ken Sakata
    Ken Sakata

    Ken Sakata is a sportswriter based in Melbourne, covering where sport and pop-culture collide with a keen interest in AFL. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram @sakatarama

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