At St Kilda they used to say Everybody Loves Lenny. And after the Bulldogs skipper’s knee buckled in Round 3, it was Everybody Loves Bob.
But down at Arden Street Oval, don’t underestimate how much Everybody Loves Drewie.
So, with Bob Murphy sidelined through injury for the rest of the season, the question now must be: Is there a nicer bloke than Petrie among the 396 AFL players who run out each weekend?
The big forward’s Kangaroos teammates chuckled when the question was put to them. But they didn’t disagree with the suggestion that Petrie – who plays his 300th career match when he runs out against St Kilda on Sunday – might well be the AFL’s new Mr Nice Guy.
Shaun Higgins said Petrie was ”the heart and soul of the footy club, and I think across the AFL you wouldn’t hear a bad word about him”.
Jack Ziebell reckoned Petrie “was probably the nicest guy I’ve ever met; he couldn’t say a bad word about anyone if he tried”, while Nick Dal Santo suggested ”it is true what they say about Drew – one of the nicest guys in the AFL”.
Michael Firrito said he only had one sister, who was already happily married, ”but if I had another sister I’d probably only let one person in the whole AFL marry her, and it would be Drew Petrie.”
Roos veteran Brent Harvey this week described Petrie as “probably the most considerate person I’ve met, let alone played with”. Harvey told the AFL Record that Petrie “always puts others ahead of himself”.
All had stories of Petrie being the last to leave the training track to make sure that all junior fans got an autograph, or of giving up his time to help young teammates improve their game.
But surely nobody’s perfect. There must be a chink in the armour somewhere?
Higgins said “some guys use that Mr Nice Guy thing as a bit of a cover up, but Drewie’s a clean skin – he’s just Mr Perfect on and off the field”.
Darren Crocker, North’s senior assistant and former caretaker coach, said: “From a coaching perspective Drewie is a pretty easy guy to coach.” Then he opened the door a fraction: “There is, at times, a little indecision in his answers.”
“I think his wife, Nicole, makes all of the decisions because he’s too nice to try and let anyone down.”
– Jack Ziebell
Ziebell backed him up: “He’s known to be a fence sitter – he doesn’t know how to make a decision. I think his wife, Nicole, makes all of the decisions because he’s too nice to try and let anyone down.” Macmillan reckoned it was because ”Drewie’s the sort of guy who can’t say no … you ask him to do anything and he’ll always say yes. And everyone knows that and everyone plays on it.”
Other pot shots included Petrie being a clean freak and the suggestion that he might soon rival Harvey as the Kangaroo who was, ahem, most careful with his money. There were tales of shopping at the supermarket to restock hotel mini-bars and cutting his own hair to save $15. Ziebell said Petrie used to drive his wife’s old car to training, but would park a kilometre away from the ground because he was too embarrassed to be sprung.
All stressed, though, that Petrie’s compliant off-field demeanour was also not reflective of what a competitive beast he became once he crossed the line and could sniff a Sherrin.
Dal Santo recalled his first session training with the Kangaroos, during an altitude camp in Utah, and seeing Petrie ”being held by Jamie Macmillan in a marking contest – so as they went to ground he turned around and punched him in the head”.
Macmillan takes up the story: “I just gave him a little hold, that you do every day, and he laid back and yelled at me ‘Never hold me again’ and punched me square in the face.”
So the question remains: has Petrie taken over the Nice Guy mantle from Sidelined Bob?
The final word goes to the bloke who wore the punch. “Even if Bob wasn’t sidelined I still reckon Drewie would be No.1,” Macmillan said.