I first met Bec at the Cottesloe Hotel in the summer of 2002–03.
It was a Sunday afternoon, time for a bit of R and R in the middle of the grind of the pre-season. Daniel Kerr and I were having a few beers, but I was keeping a lid on it because I was driving. I’d met Bec’s mum previously at a West Coast function, so when I came across Bec there was a natural starting point for a conversation. I remember thinking that Bec was very beautiful—and quite drunk! That was a common state at the Cottesloe Hotel on a summer Sunday afternoon. I found myself in the sort of moral dilemma many nineteen year-old blokes struggle to negotiate (and I dare say a few young women, too).
I had a girlfriend at the time who was overseas. I’d swear I mentioned this to Bec that first afternoon, but Bec is adamant that I did not.
We met again for coffee about a week later, and this time there’s no doubt that the topic of my girlfriend did come up. Bec said, quite reasonably, that she couldn’t start anything with me in those circumstances. But we seemed to get along OK anyway, and I thought that even if there were no romantic possibilities, it would be pleasant to catch up with her every now and then, as mates.
I was still quite new to Perth and did not have many friends outside the footy club. Apart from anything else, I wouldn’t have to drink myself silly whenever we met.
Typically, when you’re in your late teens and early twenties, catching up with mates involves a big drinking session, which is sometimes inconvenient for a professional athlete.
Bec and I could be mates on a different level. Bec is a Perth girl. She had lived and worked as a model in Thailand and Hong Kong for about eighteen months, but was now back in Perth, modelling and doing a media studies course at university.
The first time we caught up, strictly as mates, was at her house. We ended up playing Scrabble, which I realise is a somewhat unusual activity for a first meeting. I started like a house on fire, and Bec was looking at me as if I was some sort of Jedi Scrabble master. Now, I have to admit to another conceit typical of young men at this stage: I was fascinated by Bec’s beauty, but did not have a huge regard for her intellect. As my lead grew to unassailable proportions, I was nurturing horribly puffed-up thoughts about how, plainly, she wasn’t all that bright, and I with my superior brainpower was embarrassing her and her feeble mind by wiping the floor with her at Scrabble. After about half-a-dozen turns, I thought I’d better ease off , not wanting to humiliate her. So I did. And the tide turned, and before I knew it she’d won the game. Again—young man’s vanities—I was pissed off . I’d meant to give her a chance, but I didn’t mean to lose. It was the first and last time I underestimated Bec’s formidable intelligence.