He was talking to his friend, Essendon legend Simon Madden, who was Shaw’s opponent in that famous 1990 grand final, about who would be make characters in theatre. The legendary former Bombers big man suggested Shaw, and off they went.
“It is a play that doesn’t answer questions but will leave enough open for the audience to make their own judgment,” Cole said.
“The story is unique. I don’t know of another story in sport where one person is the focal point of such a result. That is the seminal reason for writing about Tony.”
“Those people allow me to explore the concept that football is about winning, not how you play the game.”
Award-winning playwright Neil Cole
It’s not just about Shaw, either, but other Collingwood figures who wore the famous No.22 with the same mix of triumph and tragedy, including the late Bob Rose and the great John Greening.
“Those people allow me to explore the concept that football is about winning, not how you play the game,” Cole said.
“The debate is whether football is a game or not – that is the premise of the play. I don’t answer the question, but there is enough indication it is more than a game, yet common sense would tell you it isn’t.”
The production will also touch on the death of Collingwood premiership player Darren Millane in a car accident in 1991 and Shaw’s reaction to the tragic loss of his teammate and friend.
Of course the question of who will play Shaw is obvious, with veteran actor Mike Newman to fill the role. Snap Shot guesses that’s the next best thing, with the ideal candidate Paul Newman no longer with us.
Newman will tread the boards with the talented Anthea Davis as they bring Cole’s work to life in a play he says is not just “we love Shawry”.
“There is a bit more to it than that,” he said.
ARTS GAIN FULL MARKS
Football and the arts have always mixed in Melbourne, as seen earlier this month during the Rising festival when artists Daniel Kok and Luke George recreated Andrew Krakouer’s famous mark against Adelaide when he played with Collingwood.
Still Lives: Making a Mark was a brilliant creation with ropes and five actors hanging from The Great Hall at the National Gallery of Victoria to show football’s complicated and sometimes tangled narrative.
Among the people involved was former Port Adelaide and North Melbourne footballer Jasper Pittard, a co-founder of AFL Players for Climate Action, who played 159 games in his 10-year AFL career.
With nine games plus finals remaining, Geelong pair Tom Hawkins and Joel Selwood would need the Cats to play four finals with both of them involved to break Adelaide pair Tyson Edwards and Andrew McLeod’s record of 307 games played together as teammates.
The veteran stars and friends have currently played 295 games together, with Selwood only needing one victory to mark 250 wins across his career, which currently sits at a total of 345 games.
Keep up to date with the best AFL coverage in the country. Sign up for the Real Footy newsletter.