Corey Enright will become just the third Cat to reach the 300-game milestone. Photo: Pat ScalaFollow the Age Sport on Twitter
When a man has spent 16 years and 299 games living an AFL footballer’s pored-over life, his public expects to have attained a level of intimacy with the object of its affection. To flip the old Phil Spector song, to love him should surely be to know him?
As adored as he is — at Geelong, and far beyond, too — this has never been Corey Enright’s signature tune.
Wife Renee explains this week’s departure – when a television camera was welcomed into their living room for the first time – as partly a function of his old teammate Cam Mooney being on the Foxtel team that came calling. Yet also of a veteran’s acceptance that, much as he’d prefer it passed quietly, he’s about to make history for his beloved club. “For such a big milestone I think he just thought, ‘Why not?'” Renee says.
For the AFL 360 audience he was, of course, himself – respectful, grounded and humbled to be just the third Cat to reach a mark that seems a distant as Jupiter to a young footballer taking his first tentative steps. Enright’s stovepipe-thin legs and body have filled out, but seemingly nothing else has changed.
“He’s a really cruisy guy, not much gets to Corey,” Renee says of a personality that’s in sweet harmony with his football. “He’s very likeable – I don’t think there’s anyone who would say a bad word about him, which is a beautiful quality to have. He’s just a lovely person.”
Mark Enright is 10 years older than his little brother (sister Marni sits in the middle of Garry and Maxine’s three kids), and remembers Corey tagging along behind him until he left home when “Boris” was about 11. “He’s always been Boris, after Boris Becker, and I’m Megs,” Mark says. “Everyone’s got a nickname in a little country town, and they stick.”
He reckons you could never lose Boris in Kimba, population 600-odd, at the top of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. “He always had a ball in his hand, and you could hear him coming up the road, bouncing that ball.”
Such an age difference has rendered many siblings virtual strangers, people with the same name but different lives. Footy and work took Megs to Port Lincoln where he added premierships for Marble Range to those won with Kimba, but he kept up with Boris’ junior footy, running water in representative games or just standing at the fence marvelling at this kid with a style all of his own. “He’d do some things that you’d just go, ‘I dunno how he thought of that’. But he’d pull it off.”
His brother’s drafting coincided with Megs’ girlfriend heading overseas for a year, so he followed Boris to Geelong, moved in with him and Max Rooke and joined their lawn-mowing business. “I came over here to spend a bit of time with him, and I’m still here 15 years later.”
He’s made a significant mark of his own on the local footy landscape, featuring in two premierships for South Barwon in his playing dotage and enjoying a few more as coach and assistant. A favourite memory in football and life is shared with Boris, just the two of them, the night after the first flag in 2005.
“We were sitting back where I was living, just having a beer before we went up to the club rooms, and he said, ‘Jeez, how’s that feel? You’ve just played in a flag!'” Little brother’s curiosity was soon sated by three AFL premierships in five seasons. The pride he had in Megs was returned tenfold.
Cameron Ling was drafted the same year as Enright, who he says was closest to Darren Milburn and Matthew Scarlett but loved by all in their group. Their lockers – 44 and 45 – gave them an instant connection, their partners hit it off, they enjoyed each other’s company. But Ling’s affection runs deeper.
“Given how hard footy is, how physically demanding and pressurised it is, he’s a pretty special teammate to have. He makes your life better – whether through his football and the example he sets, but also through his company.”
Ling doubts Enright has missed even a handful of training sessions, doesn’t see any attraction in being “downloaded” in the modern way, just keeps turning up. “In a footy sense, you knew he wasn’t dudding you for one second.”
Harry Taylor’s column in The Age this week, lauding the care Enright has for those around him, resonated. Ling cites Cats stalwart Steve Hocking highlighting Enright’s empathy. “He understands what players are thinking, how they’re feeling, knows what might be holding them back then works on making them better.”
In his time as captain, Ling says Enright was the teammate he leant on the most “just for his feel for the group”. Here is the coach in waiting, should he choose a path that’s bound to test even his deep reserves of tranquility.
Those who know him say nothing could dampen the quality that goes unseen from beyond the boundary (although the Russian hat he paraded around the MCG after the 2009 grand final win over St Kilda was a fair hint).
“To those who know him and love him, he’s quite a larrikin, a very funny person,” Renee says. They met in a Geelong pub, where her future husband introduced himself as a plumber.
“He’s hilarious,” Megs says. “He’s just got a real dry sense of humour.”
“He’s not the quiet bloke he portrays when he’s with the boys,” Ling says. “He’s a very, very funny guy. You could spend hours laughing at him.”
On Sunday all will spend a couple of special hours honouring him. Renee says their son Boh – “two-and-a-half, thinks he’s 25” – hasn’t stopped talking about running through the banner, and knows he’s getting to do something incredibly special with Dad. “I don’t know how they’re going to get him off the oval to be honest.”
Back in Kimba a Geelong flag will fly above the hospital and retirement home, where his grandma and nanna – both in their 90s – will be cheering their beloved Boris. His 300th coincides with the Cats’ annual “Mommas and Pappas” weekend, when players’ parents are hosted by the club. A fitting celebration is in the offing.
Megs has been a regular over the years playing acoustic guitar and singing in Geelong pubs, talents he says Boris shares, even if he generally prefers to keep them hidden, too. “I think he might have played a song with me at Dasher Milburn’s wedding, but he’s reluctant. He plays pretty good guitar and he can sing all right, too. Once he’s had a few beers he can sing all right.”
When Renee watches him play, she sees reward for something else that goes largely unseen – the tireless effort he’s put in to forging such a wonderful career. “He’s cool, calm and collected off the field, and he takes that out there.” In essence, she sees a leader.
Megs reckons he regularly gets caught during games watching only his little brother. He loves the risk taking, how he innately knows when to leave his man and where to go when he does. He counts himself lucky to have seen his sibling’s career unfold from such close range.
“He deserves this week for sure. He’ll be the first one to say it’s been a bit over the top, but he deserves it.” The Age SportThis story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.