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Daniel recalls days of the old backyard

Troy and Daniel Menzel in the rooms after Carlton's win against the Power. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)
Troy and Daniel Menzel in the rooms after Carlton's win against the Power. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)
I told him ‘Mate, don’t put any pressure on yourself - just relax out there and do what you’ve been doing best’ and he did all right which was really good to see.
Daniel Menzel

When Carlton’s first-game player Troy Menzel earned the free kick for that tackle on Alipate Carlile in the final quarter of last Sunday’s match against Port Adelaide, watching on knowingly from the stands was older brother Daniel.

It was at that moment that memories came flooding back for big brother, to the days at Golden Grove in Adelaide’s north when he and Troy (there are six Menzel brothers in all) took each other on in fairly unsociable games of kick-to-kick.

“We’ve been playing footy in the backyard since we were six years old – one-on-one, for the past ten years,” Daniel said in the winner’s circle at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

“We’d play in the backyard all day of a Saturday and by the time the Sunday games came around we didn’t play too well because we’d used up all our energy.

“I did have him (Troy) covered because I was three years older and bigger and stronger. Sometimes it would end in tears, usually from Troy not me, but he went with me pretty well and I think that’s why he’s developed into such a good tackler.”


Chris, Daniel, Cathy, Matt and Troy Menzel in the Carlton rooms on Sunday afternoon. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)

Straddling crutches to support the left knee soon to be subjected to a fourth reconstruction, Geelong’s much-respected 21-game player appeared to be floating in the winner’s circle afterwards, as he, together with brothers Matt and Chris and mother Cathy, shared the moment with the Blues’ latest debutant.

Only seems like yesterday that the Menzel clan had gathered at Etihad for what was Daniel’s first game in the 20th round of 2010 - including Troy, who was seen swanning around in a Cats guernsey that night.

While Daniel wasn’t sporting a dark Navy Blue jumper this time around, no-one in the Carlton rooms was happier than him in the wake of Troy’s first appearance at senior League level. As he said: “I’m just so proud of him.”

Pre-match, Daniel had texted best wishes to his younger brother, and offered a little advice gleaned from his own experiences down the highway at Simmonds Stadium.

“You go into your first game with expectations and you want to achieve something, but like all the guys at Geelong told me on the eve of your first game you shouldn’t have any expectations - just go out there, have a bit of fun and play the team role . . . ,” Daniel said.

“I told him ‘Mate, don’t put any pressure on yourself - just relax out there and do what you’ve been doing best’ and he did all right which was really good to see.”

That football and fate has brought the Menzel boys together to pursue their on-field dreams in Victoria is a godsend according to Daniel too.

“I remember watching last year’s draft and thinking ‘Í really hope it’s Geelong for Troy, but if not Geelong a good, successful Melbourne team’ – and Carlton is one of those,” he said.

“As a result, either he gets to Geelong once a week or I get to Melbourne once a week, so we catch up a fair bit.”

Carlton versus Geelong, Menzel versus Menzel, is a mouth-watering scenario Daniel has already contemplated too - for he still remembers the days of the old backyard.

“I actually harboured that dream this year,” he admitted. “The two teams met in Round 3 and I remember thinking in the lead-up ‘I wonder if he’ll be right to go and I’ll be right to go?’.

“That didn’t happen obviously and I won’t be back until mid-next year. But when the draw comes out in October, Geelong-Carlton will be one I’ll be definitely pencilling in.”