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MASON COX: ‘He works his arse off’: Why I’m all in on Gawn

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23rd September, 2021
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I tagged Max Gawn in a tweet after his five-goal performance in Melbourne’s prelim final win over Geelong: ‘Welcome to Prelim folklore’.

It was a nod to my own crazy moment three years ago in Collingwood’s prelim win.

I don’t know Max extremely well. I’ve run into him a few times over the years though and he’s a funny fella. He’s a character. Not a loud person, calm in his nature.

I think what makes him a good captain is people look to him to calm them down and get them back into that zone.

I’ve loved watching him succeed because I enjoy watching good people be successful.

On Saturday, Max will lead Melbourne onto the field at Perth’s Optus Stadium for the club’s first grand final appearance in 21 years.

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His is the feel-good story of the year, and it’s one I’m all on board for.

Even before the prelim, he delivered one of the most memorable moments of the season, when he marked the ball against Geelong for a shot to win the minor premiership.

In my mind, and I’m sure a lot of Melbourne fans would have been thinking the same, I was thinking back to the set shots he had missed to win games against Geelong and Adelaide in the past few seasons.

When he was walking back I thought ‘f***, man, if he makes this no one will ever remember that again. This is the one the memory they’ll ask him about.’

I was thinking ‘please God let him make this.’

I was so excited for him. I thought ‘finally! He works his arse off to be one of premier ruckmen in the league and that was redemption for him’.

I know he would have felt that f***ing good. I know his teammates would have just been that happy for him, knowing the situation, knowing what was going through his head.

You can’t help but smile and be happy for that person; that he’s had that opportunity to win that for his team after the siren.

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He absolutely dominated that game.

It might sound strange, considering we’re not teammates, or even particularly close but I’m one of those people who just enjoy people being successful when they’re good people.

People who have the right morals, right ethics and hold themselves to a high standard.

I think Max is one of those people who have an impact even greater than just football. Every person he meets, every person he interacts with, they walk away with a smile.

He’s a different character, just like a lot of ruckmen. A different kind of guy.

Aside from his personality there’s another reason I feel a connection with him.

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He’s 2.08m – I’ve got three centimetres on him.

Tall people like us are treated a bit differently. We’re lanky and, yeah, uncoordinated.

Tim English of the Bulldogs and Max Gawn of the Demons compete for the bal;

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Growing up you stick out like a sore thumb.

Whenever you’re just abnormal physically, I think you get to a point where you just stop caring what other people think about you and you become your true self.

That’s why I think ruckmen are different.

I’m not going to be able to run 20 kilometres in the game, that’s just not possible for a guy of my size. I’m my own person and I know what I need to do to be able to make myself the best player I can be.

And why are ruckmen nice guys? They’re the most unselfish person on the ground. Their whole job isn’t sexy or flashy, it is literally to help get the ball to other people.

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One thing that ruckmen aren’t is Brownlow medallists, not since Adam Goodes in 2003. There’s been plenty written about that this week, and not to take away from Ollie Wines’ success but it is a midfield medal. Max was paying $201 to win this season.

If you’re a forward or defender there’s no need for you to show up or log in to Zoom.

Especially defenders. I find it amazing defenders barely ever get votes.

I don’t understand why umpires are the ones doing the voting. That’s just me from an outside perspective.

But I think they’re going to be a lot more focussed on umpiring and not counting how many kicks a player gets, hopefully. To be honest, the whole Brownlow voting thing is kind of a bit ‘meh’ to me.

As an outsider I still find plenty puzzling about AFL.

For a start, what other sport in the world changes two to four rules every single year?

It’s crazy to me to think that something you think is the greatest game in the world needs to be changed every year.

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Every offseason, it seems there’s a rule that comes in that means teams have to completely change their game plan to take advantage of this new rule.

Australian football is an anomaly in the world of sport. Not a lot of people know about it outside of Australia and what makes it unique, you should own that.

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An example that drives me nuts is the rule around standing on the mark when someone’s kicking at goal.

They changed the rule to being that you have to stand and not move. To me, that’s one of the stupidest rule changes of all.

When I first came to this country, I thought it was crazy and stupid, but awesome, that you could just do anything you wanted on that mark to try to distract the kicker.

People were doing handstands, absolutely crazy stuff. I thought that was wild. What other sport has that? And it’s not like it was hurting anyone.

That should be changed back because that makes Aussie rules unique. There’s rules you can change and rules that you shouldn’t change and that’s one that they shouldn’t have changed.

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