Anyone who had a passing interest in my humble blog would know that a major passion is football. But I also like Australian Rules, quite a lot actually. It’s a shame that there some Aussie Rules types (in the media usually) that tend to disparage football, and when happens I feel a little cut. Despite this there are heaps of Association Football fans in Melbourne that are bi-codal and also follow Australian Rules Football. You just have to look at the Melbourne Victory fans forum in the ‘other sports’ section to see that each AFL team has a thread where Melbourne Victory fans discuss how their AFL teams have fared.
Also personally, Australian Rules has given me some of the best memories of my sporting watching life. It was one of the things that made me bind to Melbourne. That was in the late 70’s when the competition was solely a Melbourne one, and each team had its own ground which enabled me to know the different parts of the city. The strange mix of suburbia and working class housing at Windy Hill. The industrial surroundings of the Western Oval. The intimacy of Arden Street. The passion of Victoria Park. The sparse suburban landscape of Moorabbin and the long trip to Kardinia Park. And of course my own home ground of Princes Park where I could walk to from home.
Then it was only Saturdays. After a branch of porridge and toast my father and I would go to the game, followed by take home pizza, and watching ‘The Winners’ on ABC TV on my black and white portable Healing TV in my bedroom (my parents would watch something else on the colour telly downstairs).
I loved those winter Saturdays. But then life changed. I moved out of home and even though I still went to some matches it wasn’t the same. The advent of interstate teams (which I always thought was a logical inclusion) and the shutting down of the local grounds in favour of an Etihad/MCG duopoly (Yes we still have Kardinia Park, but it is a long way) changed the feel for it.
Also this coincided with partnering with someone who absolutely hated football and the birth of a child which took a lot of family time. A child that now at 13 has absolutely no interest in football (or any game really) whatsoever.
Then there was the advent of the A-League. As an Association Football supporter I was waiting for such a competition, and I felt (as I do now) that it had to be supported as much as possible. The AFL with all its resources and popularity will be alright without me. Even in the darkest days of the Carlton Football Club I always thought that with its wealthy supporters and members it would have come out of it, which it did.
I always thought that one day I would go back to watch a game or two, maybe when my son was grown up and didn’t need to be attended to all the time. Then I was looking about news on Carlton a few weeks ago and I saw that the Club was offering a membership that would entitle you to three matches a year and wasn’t that expensive. This was perfect for me as I wouldn’t want to go more than three matches anyway, but at the same time I would regain my membership of the Club.
So three matches, but which ones? I thought that they had to honour those good memories of the past. So this is the criteria:
They have to be on a Saturday afternoon
No Friday nights, Sundays or whatever. The time for footy is Saturday afternoons. Shame that you can’t watch World of Sport, Sunday morning to watch comments on the game and players being offered Tesco suitcases or Patra Orange juice. But the Saturday football time is hallowed. It is perfect timing, sandwiched almost perfectly in the middle of the weekend. Saturday morning to do whatever and Saturday night to wind down.
It has to be in the middle of winter
Footy is winter. I reckon that today’s fans have gone soft! I used to stand all the time, no roofs etc. with my hooded raincoat so it case it rained I would just pull it up, as anyone with an umbrella would attract the ire of those behind “get a f$#ken coat will ya!”. You want to come back from the match yearning a nice heater and a nice cup of hot tea. Or if lucky to a pub with an open fire or a pot belly heater.
They have to be with Melbourne teams
As I said, I always sustained that including teams from other Aussie Rules states was a good idea (not so sure about Sydney, Western Sydney, and Gold Coast). But when I’ll go to a match it will be with fair dinkum Melbourne teams. The atmosphere when going to a match with a Melbourne team is very different than if the team is from interstate.
All the suburban grounds have gone. The only one which remains is the MGC, which since my initial contact with football has been renovated beyond recognition. Gone is the members area with it’s cement painted in a cream colour and the clock in the middle and those rather aesthetically pleasing side glass partitions. And gone are the cavernous entrails of the old Southern Stand and the Ponsford Stand. Of course it is a great ground. But I think I may have to bend and accept Etihad. Which will be strange as except one AFL match I have been there only for Melbourne Victory matches.
Believe it or not these parameters don’t leave me with many matches. Some candidates would be against Richmond on the 28th of July at the MCG, or August the 18th against Essendon again at the ‘G. We are playing Collingwood on Friday July 6th mmmm…..I may have to bend the rules there!