Steve Butler, thewest.com.au's man in Melbourne, provides the AFL scuttlebutt being kicked around the national competition.
Catch Butler's Bouncedown on Today Tonight, 6.30pm tonight.
NO BARRY CROCKERS FOR CABLE
If the words of WA football great Mal Atwell are to be believed, it is little wonder the iconic Barry Cable was elevated as the Australian Football Hall of Fame’s 24th legend on Wednesday night.
Atwell, a one-time East Perth powerhouse and later named as Perth’s team of the century coach, was taken to the function by West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett to see the "Little Master" get his gong.
He told WTBH that in four years of coaching Cable, he could not remember him making one mistake.
"Cable was the coach’s dream ... I haven’t got a bad memory of him and I don’t remember him playing a bad game," WA’s enduring king of the pool table said.
"He was the easiest player you could ever have because he perfected the skills of the game and he won the respect of his teammates. Sometimes in teams, an individual so strong can cause friction, but even if they paid Barry Cable the grandstand the players would have loved it because they knew he was good enough to earn it.
"His degree of excellence - that’s why he’s a legend. One of the Perth committeemen once told me Cable couldn’t kick goals and that he hadn’t kicked one for five weeks or something.
"I went back to the rooms as said, ‘Cabes, this bloke reckons you can’t kick a bloody goal’. He kicked 9.1 that day."
Then suddenly smooth-moving Claremont and Geelong great Denis Marshall appeared and hijacked the conversation back to his assessment of Atwell’s brutal playing style.
"He’d come at you running even time, but I was like a Spanish matador and would step out of the way and watch him go by," Marshall said with characteristic modesty.
"Mind you, he was very dangerous."
In the tough search for quote of the night at the AFL’s most prestigious event of the year, Cable was only narrowly defeated by fellow North Melbourne great and new Hall of Fame inductee, Glenn Archer.
"Cabes" provoked a few smirks in the room when he compared a devastating 1971 elbow he copped from Hawthorn’s Leigh Matthews to his 1979 brush with death in a freak tractor accident.
"It was a lot harder hit than Leigh Matthews, I can tell you," Cable said of the tractor’s wrath.
But Archer raised more than sniggers with this pearl about his wife, Lisa.
"We’ve been together 22 years and I can honestly say I love you more now than I did when I was 17 ... and that’s saying a lot because I had a lot of testosterone (back then).
Archer was later seen at a Crown bar with former teammates Anthony Stevens, Leigh Colbert and John Blakey, as well as five-times Hawthorn premiership forward Dermott Brereton and 1981 Brownlow medallist Barry Round as the last of the revellers from the night.
Even though it was in the wee, small hours, Brereton was still gracious enough to grant photo opportunities with a few lucky passers-by.
How’s this for a table.
A glance to the right-hand side of the main stage, but back in the middle of the room, revealed a gathering of some of the great key position players of the modern game.
Event organisers decided Eagles great Glen Jakovich and Wayne Carey hadn’t seen enough of each other during their epic on-field battles and sat them next to each other.
And joining them in the all-star setting were Essendon gun Terry Daniher, Richmond’s very tigerish Tiger Francis Bourke and none other than five-times Hawthorn premiership forward Dermott Brereton.
It appeared Jakovich still had the wood on Carey, getting his meal served first and having a better view of the stage.
Legendary Collingwood goal-kicker Peter McKenna admitted to WTBH that he’d made a bit of a blunder when he’d bumped into fellow former forward and dual West Coast premiership player Peter Sumich in the streets of Melbourne recently.
McKenna said Sumich had humbly listen to him ramble on about how well the Eagles were doing before finally interjecting that he had moved over to Fremantle to be an assistant coach under Ross Lyon.
But we think an old Magpie can make a blue when he is ninth on the all-time goal-kicking list with 874.
The late Bob Johnson, who coached East Fremantle to premiership glory in 1965, was another hall inductee. But it was not just football that made him famous as a five-time flag winner for Melbourne.
Accepting his honour, Johnson’s wife Nola reminded the elder invitees in the room of their former catering business beautifully known as, "Big Bob’s Beef on the Spit". But the venture may never had been had it not been for Nola.
"He wanted to do Chinese catering," she revealed.
"I said, ‘I think beef on the spit would be a lot easier’. We did it for eight years and it was really full-on. Then we finally went to the Gold Coast to live and retired from that job."
SONS OF A GUN
The magnificent Stephen Michael has developed a new love for footy in WA’s coal-town of Collie.
While injury limited his son Clem to just 43 games for Fremantle between 1998 and 2000, Michael told WTBH he was proud to now watch two of his other children having a kick in the South West Football League.
The South Fremantle legend’s sons Matt and Tallan will play for the Collie Eagles in this Sunday’s match of the day against Carey Park at the Collie Recreation Ground.
New Western Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney revealed he never usually answers calls to his mobile phone from blocked numbers.
But he will never regret answering a persistent second call just before the season started. On the other end was the Bulldogs’ only ever premiership coach Charlie Sutton, who died last Tuesday week.
Talking to WTBH about Sutton prompted McCartney to speak of a moment with one of the club’s biggest figures that will long remain with him.
While out on the Whitten Oval track training one day, he noticed Sutton take up a regular position to watch proceedings. So, one-by-one, McCartney sent younger players over to introduce themselves to the old bloke over by the changerooms.
When some returned not knowing who the lone supporter was, they were quickly informed of his legendary Bulldog status. Word quickly filtered among the other young players who promptly came to McCartney asking if they could go and meet him too.
Now that’s what football clubs should always be about.
The strangeness of coaching giant Kevin Sheedy never ceases to amaze.
At the mention that WTBH was a former student of WA’s Pinjarra Senior High School, Sheedy immediately remarked that the Murrray River ran through the middle of the town.
When asked why that reality would be a part of his knowledge, the great man simply said, "I like to read maps every now and then".
Interesting life, Sheeds.
Carlton hard-nut Mitch Robinson is a long-shot to win a spot in the hall of fame, but he is one of WTBH’s favourites and that counts for plenty with us.
Now, young ‘‘Robbo’’ hardly seems your metro-sexual type ... or does he? A recent check on his Facebook page revealed he has recently been indulging in the luxury of foot spas.
So when WTBH came calling, he had to fess up.
"It’s actually pretty funny, I went with the missus to get a few little blood blisters cut off," Robinson bleated.
"But now it might be a new thing I keep doing these days. They’re my assets, so I’ll look after them. It’s pretty feminine, but whatever helps.'
Robinson, a proud Tasmanian, also caught our eye with this tweet as he flew into Perth’s wild weather on Tuesday.
"Perth calls this a storm?? Us Taswegians be at the beach trying to tan!"