The 28-year-long game of Tag‘The whole point of it is about friendship.’

As heard on The Ray D'Arcy Show

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Father Sean Raftis is a Catholic priest with “great peripheral vision”. And he makes use of it, regularly wondering if today will be the day that one of his friends will have crashed his Mass, ready to tag him as ‘it’. They’ve been playing this game of Tag for 28 years. Sean joined Ray D’Arcy on the line to tell him about the origins of the “Tag Brothers”, which is being made into a major film starring Jeremy Renner and Jon Hamm.

Sean likes playing Tag because “you just need yourself and a little bit of time and ingenuity”. The “little bit” of time is debatable, as he and 9 friends have invested nearly three decades in the game they used to play as schoolmates at recess. They took the game back up 8 years after they graduated high school. As it was, one of them had been in limbo as ‘it’.

“Poor Joe Tombari was ‘it’ for life and, you know, he was wearing it as a yoke of shame. He was a complete loser. So, we came up with the idea…let’s resurrect the game.”

This wasn’t a half-baked plan. They drew up a contract and some rules. The game was to take place in February of each year (and only then), there were no ‘tag backs’ (you can’t immediately tag someone back as ‘it’ when they catch you) and if you are asked if you’re ‘it’ by another player, you must answer truthfully.

There have been some elaborate takedowns over the years. Sean jokes that he is a “sitting duck” with his regular priestly schedule.

“I can spot everybody, all the faithful. And I can tell if any of my friends are in the nave.”

One of the taggings that raised the most eyebrows took place at the funeral of a father of one of the Tag Brothers. Patrick’s father “loved” the game and had a great sense of humour, Sean promised. During Communion at the funeral, one of the Tag Brothers, ‘Beef’, decided to make his move.

“It was during Communion…he put his hand on Patrick’s shoulder and Patrick looks up and they share a look and then Beef mouths ‘You’re it’…kind of a tag in a class by itself.”

It’s all in good fun and about keeping that “golden thread” of friendship alive, according to Sean. As for the upcoming Warner Brothers film of their antics? He’s gotten a preview and he’s a fan.

It’s very, very funny and it has a good heart to it…I just love comedies and this is really well done…I just found myself very happy after watching it.

Listen back to the full interview with Father Sean Raftis on The Ray D’Arcy Show here

© The Listener 2018

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