Day 0

How I Stopped Worrying And Learnt To Love the Bench.

In October, I wrote this post on the internal Bench FB group. I’ve probably mellowed a bit since this moment, but it largely captures my feelings on the season ahead and what Bench means to me.

A lot of times since our disappointing Div 1 Nationals result I’ve been told that Bench have to sacrifice having fun or change something major about our ethos if we want to win big games. Over the past six months, I have had to defend Bench to outsiders. I’ve defended who we are, how we train, how we play, our goals and strategies, I’ve defended everything about this club which I love. I have equivocated. I have tried to be even-handed and humble in defeat. And to be honest, throughout my Ultimate career, most losses have not bothered me as much as my teammates, so being flippant or coldly analytical about the losses at Nationals has not been hard for me.

But fuck it. Just at this moment, I’m tired of being diplomatic or fair or holding back my feelings. Everything I’ve ever said about process goals, about having fun, about celebrating little successes is still true.

But last year, I learnt a lot about losing and winning and I am determined that this year Bench is going to fucking win Nationals. And if we fall short, I will be bitterly disappointed. I am putting myself out there for this team and I am willing to feel the sting of failure.

I still personally can’t believe what we’ve built here. We have a fucking amazing club that now includes a truly amazing second team, built by a bunch of guys pulling themselves up, working hard, supporting each other, buying in and sharing their skills and knowledge. This is hard. This club and these teams represent five years of sweat and spreadsheets, coaching sessions, sideline yelling, shitty losses, heavy drinking, amazing wins, smiles, tears, the fucking lot. Nothing has been easy for us but we’ve succeeded by never losing sight of our commitment to our teammates and each other.

Clench Butt win Newcastle Gold Cup 2016

And that’s why I’m so determined for a setback at Nationals to not change our attitude, but to help us improve it. I want to put in more work as a team than anyone in Australia and have it show on the field. I want to show that you don’t have to be shitheads to win Nationals or only play through the same 7 players. I want a bunch of fucking idiots to beat every other team in Australia because those teams don’t have what we have, because they don’t love each other like we do, because they don’t have the indescribable thing that Bench has built over five years and more.

I want to be unstoppable.

I am determined to make this club work for you and us. This is why at the start I said this is the sixth year of the Bench experiment. Because Bench is, always has been, and always will be as long as I’m around, made up of the strengths and the weaknesses of EVERY person on this team, not just it’s top players. And every season, as we’ve learnt from our mistakes and built on our success, we’ve carved out a new way for a club to be and started each season stronger and better than the last.

I have no idea exactly how this season will play out but fucked if I’m not convinced that we together have the knowledge, skill, desire, and attitude to make it the best season in club history. I know this post has been A team focussed but this will be true for both our teams in 2016. I want to win Div 1 and win what will be the most competitive Div 2 ever.

And, for the first time, I’m not going to accept anything less than the best.