A disappointing start to the game meant the team was playing catch up from the get-go and it took a massive effort from the entire playing group to claw the momentum back their way getting within two goals just shy of half-time, confidence rising. That was when ‘The Incident’ happened and this week I got a chance to speak with chief evildoer James ‘Bash Brother’ Dennier, the teams Canadian representative.
The moment was when the disputed ball found itself over the boundary line via a strong and fair Goannas tackle, and a throw-in would soon ensue to restart the game. Well, at least it was supposed to, except Bash decided he would impose himself on the game. That probably isn’t an abnormal thing to do in a game as physical as Aussie rules – if you were a player. Bash was the water boy.
As the Suns player tried to get off the turf Bash leant over him, face inches away, and hollered in Rick Flair fashion, “WOOOOOOOOOO! What happened!? Did you get knocked the **** down!? What happened, looks like you got knocked over!”
What happened next was a free kick given to the Suns who promptly took it downfield scoring a rare easy goal just as the siren sounded. All of a sudden the Goannas were 3 goals down at half-time against a team who traditionally finishes well. Some of the players were livid, screaming at Bash to get off the field, while others had no idea what happened and who this crazed water boy even was.
Asked to recount the event, Bash closed his eyes shaking his head, “I was talking to one of the expats on the other team before he shanked his kick, then I made fun of him for a bit. He started talking back trash, so it seemed like I really put him off his game. I thought I'd do the same thing to that other dude who just got put down. Play my part for the team. Turns out there's a line between quietly mocking somebody and doing a little dance while shouting in someone's face”.
How did he feel about it afterwards? “A bit of a jackass. Dan Last seemed to take it really personally and hasn’t failed to bring it up at least twice every time I have met him since. I think he is still upset about it”.
When asked to respond, Last didn’t let the opportunity for another soft dig go to waste. “I’ll use Zaiko’s quote he asked me on the field. ‘Lasty, who is that clown and what the hell is he doing here!?!?’”
Gordon Jones, coach at the time, was more frank about the matter saying, “Bash was 2 points away from being deported back to Canada”.
Fortunately for the Goannas, and Bash, a spectacular last 6 minutes saw 4 goals scored to win the game by those 2 points. It was pandemonium and perhaps the grandest finish of any match in recent times. Standing on the sidelines in those dying moments, you could be forgiven for thinking Bash was facing death sentence as thoughts of costing his team the premiership set heavy in his mind.
“I was hoping we either lose by 4 goals or won. The start of the comeback was really nerve wracking as I could feel the wrath coming my way should we have lost by less than a goal. I may have been kicked out of the country back to Canada let alone the club as the coach may have told you”.
In the end, the game was won by the red and white so no grudges are held. It all adds to another chapter in Bash’s rich book of ‘moments’. This is the man who mistakenly rented an apartment without a shower and decided to tackle and then holler at Kansai ruckman and one-billion pound behemoth Jon Cooper only to have his ribs broken in the re-match.
What about his water-running prospects though? “Under no circumstances will I ever run water again, moreover, the Goannas should make it policy that I not be allowed within 500 meters of any game I'm not playing in”.
So there are regrets?
“Well, riddle me this. If you're not woooo-ing and doing little dances over fallen opponents then why bother playing?”