Opinion

Just a Saad state of affairs

by
July 07, 2017

Saad Saad could fly for hangers like few others who have played in the Goulburn Valley League. The exact circumstances behind triple Seymour premiership legend’s sudden retirement this week remain puzzling and his loss will be felt at Kings Park and across the league.

Where do you start with Saad Saad?

The most enigmatic of footballers has retired.

But it would actually surprise me if he did not make a comeback rather than staying retired for good.

He is just that unique and unpredictable of a character.

Whether that be at Seymour, or elsewhere, he can’t be completely finished as a player.

The excuse that his body is ‘‘no longer up to it’’ is mindblowing considering he has kicked 43 goals for the season and put nine through the big sticks in his last outing two weeks ago against Shepparton Swans.

He sits second on the goal-kicking table behind Kyabram’s former AFL player Kayne Pettifer.

At 34, there is no doubt he can’t do everything he used to.

Time catches up with every sportsperson.

But Saad’s on-field heroics have still been bringing crowds through the gates and creating a buzz around the league that no other player can match.

He is simply a country football legend, despite never living in the bush, and one of the best players the Goulburn Valley League has seen in its more than 100-year history.

An ability to kick a freakish goal from any part of the forward 50 and a leap to match the best of high-flyers in the AFL.

His speccy (if you have not seen it, get on YouTube immediately) in the 2005 grand final upset of Euroa will be talked about forever in GVL circles.

Saad’s record of 903 goals at the Lions in only 180 games puts him in elite company — extraordinary when he is not close to even be considered a Collingwood six-footer (180cm).

He stands at about five-foot nine (175cm).

I have only watched him closely towards the end of his career, but you always know he is going to do something to talk and write about after the game.

I saw plenty of Seymour games in 2015 and if he was not kicking a miraculous goal or leaping to the moon, he was keeping fans on the edge of their seat with pure antics.

One game that year against Mooroopna stands out immediately.

Saad kicked just two goals for the day, including an all-time classic tucked away on the boundary that Peter Daicos, Eddie Betts and Jason Akermanis would have stood up and applauded.

The Lions pulled off an unlikely win completely against the odds, but Saad was in a downcast mood after the game and was reacting like he had lost a grand final.

It was because he thought he had not contributed much to the team and was disappointed in his own performance, leading coach Brent Colbert to go over and put his arm around Saad.

Peak Saad came in a semi-final loss to Rochester where he booted five goals, lit the game up, and then was reported for pushing Tigers runner, GVL hall-of-famer, Anthony ‘‘Tank’’ McPhee.

He left Seymour for a year playing with family at Coburg Districts last season, but hated it.

Saad still managed to kick 61 goals in just 12 games, despite not wanting to be there, and he pleaded to return to his spiritual home at Kings Park.

A condition of Colbert was on his return was that he train harder (Saad has never been one for a big pre-season) and prove he was serious if he was to return to Seymour.

The former Northern Bullants VFL gun seemed to be doing all that.

Bags of goals were coming and the Seymour faithful was delighted to have him back.

My former colleague Hannah Driscoll (who works for The Weekly Times) detailed a story of a goal umpire thanking Saad for coming back to the GVL and saying how much better it was to have him playing.

That was Saad’s last game for the Lions.

The situation got plain weird when Peninsula Football League club Pines lodged three clearances for Saad’s services, which Seymour denied before the transfer window closed on Saturday.

Saad was granted two weeks away from the club and did not play against Shepparton last Saturday, but went back to Colbert on Monday and said he was done for good.

His long-time mate and Lions premiership teammate Paul Scanlon plays at Pines, so the connection is there for a move.

Saad had already detailed his retirement intentions to Scanlon at Seymour’s reunion of the 2007 premiership last month.

‘‘He wanted (Saad) to give it away, he was not feeling great with his body, he’s busy with work and he just said to me ‘I might retire’,’’ Scanlon told The News this week.

‘‘I said to him to put a clearance into my club (Pines) before they close and if you decide to play again this year, then you can.

‘‘I was just acting as a mate and I was more saying if you are retiring, put in a clearance before they close and if you change your mind and do want to have a kick again and a play a game or two this year, then you have that option.’’

The elusive Saad dodged a number of calls from The News this week as we hoped to get some comment from him.

It would have been great to hear what he had to say because the other people involved in the saga mostly have different accounts of what has gone on.

A lot of people are still puzzled.

If this is the last we see of Saad on a football field in the GVL, it is truly a shame.

We have been fortunate to have watched him take hold of games like few before him and the league will be far less interesting without Saad.

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