Our Executive General Manager of Human Resources for Melbourne and Sydney, Alicia Gleeson, shares her top five sporting moments.
I’m a keen sports fan and I attend a lot of live sport – only one of these I was actually at, but they are the events that have had the most impact.
ANZAC Day Match 2009
I would like to say I am a football tragic, and indeed, I will watch any game, any time. But the reality is I support Essendon. I am a fourth generation Essendon supporter. I have no second favourite team, I hate every other team. I bleed red and black.
To this day, one game stands out like no other is ANZAC Day 2009.
The Magpies were in the lead by 14 points with less than five minutes remaining. I was in the MCG Members stand with my Dad. My father was the world’s eternal optimist and the finest of Essendon supporters. I was slumped in my seat, loathing the inevitable walk of shame at the end of the match to that awful anthem “Good old Collingwood forever.” Dad looked at me and says”Alicia, there’s still time”. I responded with: “There’s no time.”
Leroy Jetta snapped…I was on my feet, and I was vocal…Ricky Dyson then nailed a set shot from a tight angle…miraculously the margin was two points, I wasn’t just vocal I was out there on the field playing – me and the other 85,000 spectators. Nathan Lovett-Murray received a handball from Heath Hocking, who lined up for David Zaharakis who marked. We could see straight from Zaharakis to the goals and Zaharakis played on, some Collingwood player (Brent Macaffer apparently) lunged to tackle, Zaharakis kicked, and the ball sailed through for a goal, his first in the AFL. Seconds later the siren went. I lost the plot, “see the Bombers fly up” came over the loudspeakers and the Collingwood supporters behind me leant over and congratulated me on a game well played. They were much better in defeat than I would have been.
Time ran out for Dad six years ago so I take him to the football in my heart.
When I was a little girl, there were three sports on the television – footy, cricket and the Olympic Games. Little girls didn’t feature much in any of these, until 1976 and one 14 year old Romanian gymnast became the first woman to score a perfect 10 in an Olympic gymnastics event (she went on to record seven perfect 10.0s). Nadia Comaneci launched onto the world stage and into the hearts of little girls everywhere. Suddenly little girls could do big things, with strength, grace, elegance and perfection. To my friends and me, Romania became the most glamorous place in the world and ‘Nadia’ a euphemism for everything we could achieve.
Rob de Castella - Rotterdam Marathon
Rob de Castella was already an Australian and International running champion when my next sporting highlight occurred. In 1983 he won the Rotterdam Marathon in 2h 08'37, it was televised and with only had two channels in Ballarat at the time, I watched it. For the first time I realised the true beauty of long distance running. Going into the race, de Castella’s main rival was considered to the US marathoner Alberto Salazar. As it turns out by the end of the race it was between him and Portugal’s Carlos Lopes. When de Castella started pulling away from Lopes to the finish line, the strength and power of his running was amazing and it started my fascination with running.
Sadly, I have no claim to fame in running, except growing up in Ballarat I couldn’t tell you how many times I was lapped running around Lake Wendouree by Steve Moneghetti
(sometimes multiple times in the one run). He and his training partners, chatting non-stop, running around the lake on the road, I shuffling along, reminiscent of that other great Australian runner Cliff Young
on the gravel track next to the water.
Rob de Castella’s training was focused on the hills in the Dandenongs and to this day as I plod up the ‘hills’ of The Boulevarde in Kew, it’s Deeks who inspires me.
Cathy Freeman 2000 Olympics
Probably an event in every Australian’s sporting highlights was the beauty of Cathy Freeman’s 400m win at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Not even the weight of a nation’s expectations held her back. The sight of her graceful form sprinting to the finish line in that suit, then her lap of honour with both of Australia’s flags, was simply a moment of joy.
A couple of years later, running the ‘tan’ at lunchtime with another Crown colleague we saw two women running with their little terrier. They took off and then had to stop, turn and wait for the dog to catch up, their laughter at the dog and the freedom of running was infectious and as we caught up with them too we realized it was Cathy. That day felt like our lap of honour.
Trevor Chappell underarm bowl 1 February 1981
Maybe not a sporting highlight, but my most powerful cricket moment was the 1 February 1981 one day match between Australia and New Zealand. It was a controversial game and with one ball left to bowl, NZ needed 6 runs to tie. Trevor Chappell was the bowler, his brother, the Australian Captain Greg Chappell instructed him to bowl underarm so it was impossible to get the runs. In the end the ball was rolled along the pitch. The Australian wicket keeper, Rod Marsh could be heard saying “Don’t do it” over the telecast and the commentator also protested the decision. For the rules of the game at the time it was a legal ball. Was it a genius tactical move delivering a win to the home side against their rivals or was it not in line with the spirit of the game?
I was always taught that it’s not whether you win or lose but how you played the game that counts.
What would you have done?