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Football as modern art (feat. Eddie Betts)

Ken Sakata Columnist

By Ken Sakata, 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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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • April 11th 2017 @ 6:02am
      Brinnx said | April 11th 2017 @ 6:02am | ! Report

      Love Eddie, even after he left my blues.

      Man he has some sick skills.

      Good article

    • Roar Rookie

      April 11th 2017 @ 11:11am
      Snert Underpant said | April 11th 2017 @ 11:11am | ! Report

      Everyone loves Eddie. Not just because of what he can do, but because he enjoys the fact that he can do it so well and people love what he does. If you get my drift….

    • Columnist

      April 11th 2017 @ 11:34am
      Ryan Buckland said | April 11th 2017 @ 11:34am | ! Report

      I feel like I need to say this every week: this is so great Ken, so unique and interesting and entertaining.

      • Roar Rookie

        April 11th 2017 @ 2:21pm
        Lamby said | April 11th 2017 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

        Walkely award winning Gold is what it is 🙂

    • April 11th 2017 @ 12:40pm
      ken oath said | April 11th 2017 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

      “The Spider”…

      Just spat out a mouthful of half chewed schnitzel roll laughing. Could have gone the other way and choked.

      Doesn’t matter, you just made my day.

    • April 11th 2017 @ 1:26pm
      steve said | April 11th 2017 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

      We love Eddie at the Crows, Thanks Carlton.
      Have had the pleasure of sitting right behind him while he kicked goal of the year “TWICE”. He is a special part of the AFL story. Not just for what he does on the ground but off the ground as well. Nothing better than the “EDDIE” chant at the Adelaide Oval.

      • April 11th 2017 @ 1:57pm
        sammy said | April 11th 2017 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

        I must have sat very close to you as well…right behind Eddie twice for goal for the year. Eddie has also attempted those party tricks again a few times and the look of absolute fear that comes into the defenders eyes as Eddie flips the ball along the boundary and then through someone’s legs or over their head before grabbing it to attempt a shot at goal… enjoyable to watch as Modra when he was at his best

    • April 11th 2017 @ 2:40pm
      Chris said | April 11th 2017 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

      Love the piece – Thank you Ken. Like (I suspect) many other Carlton folk I’m also watching highlights of Adelaide for Eddie and of Brisbane for Mitch Robinson and only doing the Carlton games as replays … also praying for 200 days of rain….

      • Roar Pro

        April 11th 2017 @ 8:38pm
        The Doc said | April 11th 2017 @ 8:38pm | ! Report

        Great article Ken! ‘Spider’ thing was hilarious. As sad as it was to see Eddie leave the Blues, Great to see him playing well somewhere else- in hindsight clearly worth the money he was asking for at Carlton. And yes… praying for perpetual rain for all Blues games this season

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