Why Joe Daniher’s return should put a grin on every footy fan’s face

Last Thursday evening I received and sent about 10 text messages all saying one word — Joe.

It has been easy to see this football frenzy season as a blur, but within it have been some amazing highs and incredible feats — real blink-and-you-miss-it moments.

The absolute highlight of my season came on Thursday evening.

The Bombers were down by 36 points at the half; they looked slow, sluggish and didn’t have an avenue to goal.

Enter Joe Daniher.

He leaped, he flew, he ran, he looked brilliant and he single-handedly led the Bombers to a famous victory over the Hawks.

His straightening up of the Bombers showed that with him in the side, anything is possible.

Thanks to him, they kept their finals hopes alive, only two points out of the top eight.

The impact Joe has on the footballing community is profound, and the joy that he brings to the wider community cannot be undersold.

Joe Daniher smiles while holding a football at training

Joe Daniher smiles while holding a football at training

Injury has kept Joe Daniher off the footy field for more than a year.(AAP: Scott Barbour)

He’s one of the few people to play football with a smile on his face, much in the same ilk as Eddie Betts.

It’s this attitude and demeanour that make watching football feel pure, and you find yourself cheering and marvelling as you watch someone do what he does in such an unbridled way.

The football community has missed Joe for the best part of the last two seasons, and the weekend was a reminder of just how good the man is.

He is a slightly less athletic Buddy Franklin, but with the ability to mark the ball high above his head and kick goals from almost any range.

Like Buddy he can do freakish acts, and yet frustrate sometimes with his approach to the simple things.

He’s flawed, in other words, and he’s human — and that’s why his play connects with people.

Only 10 months ago he wanted out of the Bombers, requesting a shock trade to the Swans.

This was vetoed by the Bombers and Joe came back ready to reset.

Unfortunately, one of football’s greatest talents has spent the last year on the sidelines with a persistent groin injury.

Our last glimpse of him before the weekend came all the way back in round nine last year against Fremantle.

It was his lack of action on the park and a few years of frustration that lead Joe down the path of seeking a trade.

He looked north to the Swans and as a selfish fan, I hoped the deal got done.

Joe Daniher holds onto a yellow football after leaping into the air with three other players scattered around him

Joe Daniher holds onto a yellow football after leaping into the air with three other players scattered around him

At his best, Daniher is one of the most entertaining players in the game.(AAP: Mark Dadswell)

When you consider the Swans’ forward line there is definitely space for a player like Joe.

With an ageing Buddy — who can’t get on the park himself — alongside the young tyros in Nick Blakey and Tom McCartin, the move would make sense.

Joe could roam further up the ground and Buddy could stay closer to goal.

On the smaller SCG you can already see Joe banging them in from the centre square, or field kicking to a leading Buddy.

Only last week Joe was being written off.

The All Australian and club champion was being questioned about his longevity in the game.

Some former champions of the game were questioning just how many games he had left to give.

But what we saw last Thursday evening was a player who had his power back; running and jumping at the ball at its highest point.

Pleasingly he has been selected again for tonight, off a short turnaround too, so his body must be feeling alright.

Ironically, the man who has missed the entire season bar one game now becomes the man the Bombers will pin their finals hopes on.

Their run home isn’t easy playing West Coast, Geelong and the Power in the next three weeks; they are all tough games and they will go into each of them underdogs.

Regardless of what happens from a result perspective I just hope we see Big Joe out there smiling again.

Footy is better off when he is.