On a scorching Melbourne day, I picked up my now 9 year old son from school at 11.30am and as a birthday treat was going to take him to his first formal book launch. But this was not just any book launch, it was the launch of his (and the families) favourite AFL team - the Mighty Pies!! We drove to the Lexus Centre on the banks of the Yarra River. The media had taken prime position and parked their vehicles across the front of the Lexus Centre making it impossible for anyone else to park there (it is a Collingwood book launch after all ... the media interest was not surprising).
Wearing his sleeveless guernsey and decorated with badges of all of his favourite players, Oliver and I jogged in the 37 degree heat and made it to the launch just in time!!
Having never been to the Lexus Centre, it was awe inspiring to enter through the doors of Collingwood's inner sanctum. We walked past the private training facilities and saw Simon Prestigiacomo, Heath Shaw and Paul Licuria doing weights ... Oliver's eyes nearly popped out of his head!!
At the launch Collingwood Captain, Nick Maxwell and Vice Captain, Josh Fraser where on stage with Collingwood President Eddie McGuire and the books' author Peter Ryan.
Eddie introduced the new book by saying that it was a private level insight to the club, completely distinct from the public perception created by the popular press. Side by Side provides both the Collingwood faithful, AFL and sport fans in general with a truthful, birds eye view of life in a thriving, successful football community who were, in Eddie's words "Six quarters away from the ultimate victory in 2009."
This book should only be read by people who love or hate Collingwood, it is not for the faint hearted or the indifferent. A must-have on any sport lovers bookshelf this Xmas.
Finally, when I asked Oliver what his impression of the book launch was, his exact words were "It was a life changing experience!!"