How does a self-described ‘skinny Aboriginal kid’ overcome a legacy of family tragedy to become an AFL legend? One thing’s for sure: it’s not easy. But then, there’s always been something special about Eddie Betts.
Betts grew up in Port Lincoln and Kalgoorlie, in environments where the destructive legacies of colonialism – racism, police targeting of Aboriginal people, drug and alcohol misuse, family violence – were sadly normalised. His childhood was defined by family closeness as well as family strife, plus a wonderful freedom that he and his cousins exploited to the full – for better and for worse.
When he made the decision to take his talents across the Nullarbor to Melbourne to chase his footballing dreams – homesickness be damned – everything changed. Over the ensuing years, Betts became a true giant of the sport: 350-plus games, 600-plus goals, multiple All-Australian nods and Goal of the Year awards, and a league-wide popularity rarely seen in the hyper-tribal AFL.
Along the way, he battled his demons before his turbulent youth settled into responsible maturity. Today, the man the Melbourne tabloids once dubbed ‘bad boy Betts’ is a dedicated husband and father, a respected community leader and an increasingly outspoken social activist.
Sometimes funny, sometimes tragic and always honest – often laceratingly so – The Boy from Boomerang Crescent is the inspirational life story of a champion, in his own words. Whether he’s narrating one of his trademark gravity-defying goals from the pocket, the discrimination he’s faced as an Aboriginal person or the birth of his first child, Betts’s voice – intelligent, soulful, unpretentious – rings through on every page.
The very human story behind the plaudits is one that will surprise, move and inspire.
Whether it be growing up under the eye of police, being away from family, living under the treat of racism and the challenges of educating others about culture, The Boy from Boomerang Crescent celebrates how Eddie Betts has managed to achieve greatness in the face of adversity.
Listening to Luke Carroll’s reading of the book, this was one of those books that you did not want to put down or pause. I think it was Betts’ humility, generousity and honesty. At no point is he selling tickets to the Betts show. Although there are stories of racism in football or police, this only seems to fuel his perseverance and resiliance.
On finishing the book, I could not help but think how many chances and sacrifices have been involved for Betts to make it. He often comes back to the statement ‘It takes a village’. Even with all of his instinctual talent, it feels like there are so many points where he might have missed a training session, a game, a club expectation, that could of had him missing out.
Although I saw various headlines about this book when it was released, I was particularly drawn to it after listening to Betts’ discussion with Hamish Blake on How Other Dad’s Dad.