America 2018: Day Nine (31 August)

When I feel that chill, smell that fresh cut grass
I’m back in my helmet, cleats, and shoulder pads
Standin’ in the huddle listenin’ to the call
Fans goin’ crazy for the boys of fall

They didn’t let just anybody in that club
Took every ounce of heart and sweat and blood
To get to wear those game day jerseys down the hall
The kings of the school, man, we’re the boys of fall

Well it’s, turn and face the stars and stripes
It’s fightin’ back them butterflies
It’s call it in the air alright yes sir we want the ball
And it’s knockin’ heads and talkin’ trash
It’s slingin’ mud and dirt and grass
It’s I got your number, I got your back
When your back’s against the wall
You mess with one man, you got us all
The boys of fall

                                                                                                                   – Kenny Chesney


Friday 31 August


By my count, this is the second time we’ve celebrated your birthday in America – and suburban Chicago is a long way from the beaches of South Carolina, right? Happy birthday, buddy. Blessed and lucky to call you a mate, one of my best mates, and here’s to many more adventures.

Went out for a jog this morning. It was hot going and 5km later, I was pretty much dead. Headed out later in the morning to Twin Peaks, a restaurant that, it’s fair to say, could be compared to Hooter’s in terms of the people who’re serving you your meal. First went there maybe three years back with Scott Weller, who hands-down is one of the funniest people I know, and it’s become a bit of a tradition to have lunch there. Who am I to mess with tradition, right?

After lunch we had a fairly quiet afternoon (that included a wonderful nap) and everyone – Mike, Bri, Brian and Debbie – came over to Matt and Jaimie’s for dinner to celebrate Nathan’s birthday. We had a cake, some pizza and a few drinks sitting outside on what was a very warm evening. It was great to meet a few more of Matt’s friends. The knockout basketball tournament across the street didn’t go so well. I was shooting bricks!


With too much pizza and beer in our stomachs, we drove down to Wheaton Warrenville South for some football. For a while now, I’ve wanted to be in Chicago at this time of the year so that I could finally tick seeing a WW South (the high school where Matt, Mike, Jamie and so many other friends of mine here went) football game off my bucket list. Today, I got the chance.

Friday night high school football is such a huge thing in the American culture, and the first real step on any prospective NFL player’s road to professionalism. As Matt kept telling people we met, he wanted to give us a quintessentially American experience, and this is it. Nothing in Australia comes close to high school football.

Man, did we have a good night? A few clouds lingering around made for a spectacular sunset and South were on fire, dominating the contest from the outset, for a 41-0 win. Because Matt knew everyone (he was a quarterback coach there for many years, and a player before that) we were able to watch the game from the sidelines, and that is an incredible experience, given how close you are to everything taking place. At times, they’re scrimmaging less than five feet away from us – easily close enough to hear the pop of pads, the crash of helmets and the trash talk. Even at the high school level, these are big guys, with insane talent.

After the game, we dropped Miles and Brooke back to the Alley house and headed on to Arrowhead Golf Club, where a lot of coaches gather after the game for a few beers and sometimes to watch replays of the game. It was a great atmosphere in there after a big win, and I had a lot of fun talking football with Matt and some of the coaches. As often happens here, I met so many cool people.

Big night and great day!

One thought on “America 2018: Day Nine (31 August)

  1. Thanks for the birthday callout, it’s great to be spending another birthday with you in America! Chicago is a long way from South Carolina and it means a lot to be surrounded by so many great friends to celebrate with despite being miles away from home!


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