Ex-AFL player Tim Boyle on owning a restaurant during COVID-19

www.abc.net.au
8 min read
fairly easy
Former Hawthorn footballer turned newspaper columnist Tim Boyle opened a restaurant just before coronavirus hit. This is what it's like.
There have been unluckier AFL footballers than Tim Boyle, whose injury-blighted career took in just 31 senior games in seven seasons and ended as Hawthorn sat on the cusp of a premiership dynasty.

There have been unluckier journalists than the man who held the title of AFL columnist of the year and then completely disappeared from view.

And there are probably unluckier restaurateurs than Boyle, who spent two years finding and fitting out his pizzeria on Richmond's Bridge Road, staking his financial future on a business that was open only a couple of months before the COVID-19 pandemic all but shut down the hospitality industry.

But not many sportspeople can claim so many misfortunes on one CV.

When I arrive at Frattelino Pizzeria on an overcast Melbourne afternoon to talk about football and restaurant life in a pandemic, Boyle has more bad news.

The former Hawthorne player spent two years finding and fitting out his restaurant. ( ABC News: Russell Jackson )

"I'd love to welcome you with a coffee, but the machine just broke down and so has the dishwasher," he says, chuckling.

"Are you any good as a dish hand?"

Laughing at the absurdity of his tribulations comes naturally to Boyle.

In his second pre-season at the Hawks he flew for a spectacular mark and broke his leg on the way down.

Then came hamstring tears, the disappointment of missing the club's 2008 premiership and the knee reconstruction that ended his career.

There followed an unconventional post-football life.

There was a master's degree in writing and editing and Boyle combined making pizzas at a friend's restaurant with sport columnist duties at The Age, contributing some of the smartest and most inventive writing by a former player since Brent Crosswell's byline graced the same pages.

Then editorial budgets began shrinking.

"The things that interested me about sports writing were the things that interest me about writing in general," Boyle explains.

"When it's done well, the craft is in…
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