OF FISHING, FOOTY & A COUNTRY MUSIC LEGEND

We approach an unpretentious white building, overgrown with shrubbery. A couple of empty beer barrels and a few other chattels clutter the entrance to the Darwin Railway Club.

The outer suburb of Parap is typically Darwin – multi-cultural, good eateries, a thriving little shopping centre, which, on Saturdays mornings during the Dry season, comes alive to host the popular Parap market.

But on this Friday evening all the side streets are chockers.   Parking is at a premium. Troy Casser-Daly’s in town and he’s appearing before a sell-out crowd.

The Railway Club, I discover, has a reputation for attracting good muso’s , but it’s a bit of a coup to lure Troy. He is on his way to Kununurra for a festival and has stopped by for a one-nighter.

Boots and Akubras, thongs, singlets, ultra-casual gear, blokes who have come straight from a hard day’s yakka and their female mates with stubbies in hand are the order of the night. $15 pizzas are on the menu and two tattooed, dreadlocked barmaids go hell for leather to cope with the demand of the thirsty patrons.

You’d think, by the diversity and rowdiness of the crowd, that any minute someone could be sent sprawling across the darkened floor, sparking an almighty ‘blue’.

But no, they’re a cheerful lot and they give Troy a hearty welcome when he climbs onto the tiny, crowded stage and gingerly manoeuvres his way between the instruments, to the microphone.

In no time he has them in the palm of his hands. There was a moment when you sensed : ‘he’s lovin’ this’ – as his audience rocked, waved and danced for a good hour and a half. It’s a terrific vibe. He has engaged brilliantly with them and you just feel – ‘gee, what a natural bloke’…………….

 

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It’s a great time to be visiting the Top End. Everything’s still nice and green and the Dry is just starting to kick in. The humidity has all but disappeared, even though it’s pretty hot when we arrive a couple of days earlier.

Charles Darwin University’s Graduation Day is on at at the swanky Entertainment Centre and, of course, it’s ‘no show without punch’ – we’ve secured an invite to this red-letter event.

Just to idle away a bit of time beforehand, I wander down to the Wharves, where you never fail to come across a character or two if you strike up a conversation.

This bloke looks a bit way-out . He’s checking some lines that he has dangled over the pier, into the water below. I ask him if he’s having any luck.

‘Nah, buddy.’

A couple more questions tease out his life-story : “………..Hey, I just travel around. I’m a Queenslander….. Come here the other day from Broome. There’s all my belongings behind me”……. He points to his swag. It’s where he caught some shut-eye last night, he tells me.

I ask him how he liked Broome……’Alright…..worked as a chef, but lost me job. That’s why I’m here…..The head chef’s hand accidentally slipped into some boiling water.”

That’s bad luck, I sympathise……..”Not really. He’s pulled a knife on me, the prick ……..Cost me 43 f……..n thousand bucks a year, mate.”

He tells me he was a professional fisherman a few years back , but lost his license when the AFA (I don’t want to interrupt him, but presume that’s the Australian Fisherman’s Association) introduced drug-testing.

“I got done for testing positive to cannabis. So now I just do me own thing.” I’m wondering whether this fellah’s having a lend of me, but then, his crazy eyes tell me he’s probably fair dinkum.

I leave him in peace………..

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There’s a smorgasbord of sport in the Top End at any given time. This week-end you have the choice of Kenya’s national cricket team playing a couple of one-dayers against a Territory XI, the local Rugby League and Union competitions, among assorted others.

And my luck is in. The Territory Thunder, the representative Aussie Rules team, is pitted against Canberra Demons . Marrara is my destination on this warm, balmy evening.

The Thunder, the reigning NEAFL premiers, are almost invincible at home, but dropped a rare match to Southport last week and are keen to atone. They do so in no uncertain manner by blitzing Canberra to the tune of 98 points.

They are irresistible; too quick and skilful, and produce a brand of football which shows up the Demons.

The roar of the crowd in the cavernous Marrara grandstand, boosted by a contingent of U.S marines, gives you the impression that it numbers a couple of times more than the 500 in attendance. But they create a good atmosphere, even though the locals don’t seem to get as rapt up in it as their own unique, Wet Season footy.

There was talk at the end of the NTFL season that players from a couple of clubs – St.Mary’s and Wanderers – were at loggerheads. It followed a Grand Final bust-up and they were reportedly not keen to play alongside each other at the Thunder.

But strained relationships have been repaired and everything seems to have been smoothed over.

Former St.Kilda player Xavier Clarke is the coach of the Thunder and has the job of moulding this group into a cohesive unit.

Xav learnt his football at St.Mary’s, the fabulously successful premiership factory. He suffered a number of back and hamstring problems at St.Kilda, which restricted him to 105 games over seven years.

When he was traded to Brisbane, the injury curse hit again and he lasted just a half a game in his one and only appearance with the Lions.

But he’s a Darwin boy at heart and is thriving on the coaching job. His brother, Raph, who played many of his 85 AFL games alongside him at St.Kilda, is now back home and is also on the N.T list.

Xavier led the Thunder to a flag last year and is a fair chance to emulate that feat in 2016. He harbours a desire to further his coaching ambitions and would come under the radar if he clinched another title.

But, would he be able to forego the Top End life-style again ? He’s a laid-back fellah and loves his fishing and family.

It’s my bet that he’s a Darwin lad for life……..

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “OF FISHING, FOOTY & A COUNTRY MUSIC LEGEND

    1. No, he lives in Queensland now, I think.

      Good to hear from you. Did you get that email the other day. No worries about using the ‘Barr’ Story/

      Regards

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