For a club so accustomed to winning, as opposed to losing Grand Finals, it seems rather anomalous that Hawthorn players have been so grateful for wearing brown coloured shorts the past few Septembers. Another whoopsie this year might even provide solace to the Kiwi America’s Cup chokesters. Should Hawk fans be the ones curled up in the foetal position on Saturday night, they will require serious counselling.
Meanwhile, Freo fans will be new to such gut wrenching devastation. They too will need help.
As a Collingwood tragic who’s experienced their fair share of Grand Final tragedies over their lifetime, I believe I’m well qualified to pen a survival guide for this year’s LOSERS. To add weight to my bona fides, I’ve endured all manner of SNAFU’s and injustices with anything but sympathy.
So here goes my community service announcement, keep this in your back pocket.
1. ‘It’s only a game’
Any well-meaning football heathen who offers up this facile nugget of consolation at roughly 5.30pm does so at their own risk. But when you think about it, they have a point.
Consider AFL is the football code of choice for just half of the 53rd most populous country in the world. Forget the AFL’s cultural cringeworthy promos, beyond our shores the game barely registers a blip.
And what does it all mean anyway? It’s just a bunch of humans flailing about for money, attempting to kick an air conveyance through a set of tall wooden posts. And forgive me for going a bit existential here, but our lives are nary a blip in the infinite continuum of existence as it relates to our incomprehensibly large and expanding universe.
Feel better now?
2. Leave the Country
After losing just three games for the whole year, the yawning gap in my heart after the 2011 Grand Final was as great as the space in the trophy cabinet at the Westpac Centre where the cup should have been on display.
A week later, standing on the exquisite Kata Beach (Thailand) with a monster 60 baht Chang (6.5%) beer in my hand, watching the sun set over the sparkling Andaman Sea… Well that was a carafe full of context to pour into my hatful of hollow.
3. Avoid all media
If you didn’t witness the tree falling in a forest, it never happened, right?
4. Blame the Umpires
I know, it’s not the most edifying coping mechanism, but denial works for me.
Wayne Harmes in 1979*, and the trilogy of umpiring howlers that cost the Pies the 2002* Premiership, in my mind, stamp those Blues and Lions flags with an indelible asterix.
In the words of George Costanza, ‘It’s not a lie… if you believe it’.
5. There’s always next year
No matter how well the AFL appears to be succeeding in running the game into the ground, unless an asteroid strikes the Earth or Kim Jong-un has a really bad day, the 2014 AFL Premiership season will commence late March next year.
6. Change Teams
What kind of silly tribalism makes you support your club anyway? And in Hawthorn and Fremantle’s case, you will never, ever be cool or have many friends wearing vomitous poo and wee or purple. It’s a fashion travesty!
And on a more empathetic note, who needs the stress of barracking for a club that could find itself in another Grand Final next year? My stupid club makes Grand Finals with relatively crappy teams almost by accident; 1980, 2002 and 2003 being cases in point. Put Melbourne, St Kilda and Western Bulldogs in your lucky dip – you know it makes sense.
7. Kick the proverbial cat
As an animal lover I would never advocate hurting your pet. I would suggest taking a leaf from Clarko’s book and begin that ‘open plan’ living area renovation you’d been avoiding for years. Bare fists not recommended.
8. Trial Separation
No government ever made following an AFL club mandatory. You only need to know Don Bradman’s test batting average.
Take the easy way out. Be a drone and follow Man U in the EPL, or Celtic in the Scottish Premier League. Or you could ponce about in a Real Madrid or Barcelona shirt. And on the off chance they don’t win the title, it’s like 50 bazillion miles away. Who cares? And with the time such half-hearted fandom frees up, you may even begin to recognise your wife and kids again.
Pretty obvious really. Dull the heartache and when you wake up the next morning, rinse and repeat.
10. Drink and Cry
One will probably lead to the other and in doing so magnify the effect. Better out than in – it’s scientifically proven as therapeutic for one’s mental health. Just don’t let your partner or prospective partners see you, unless they share your ridiculously overblown pain over a game of footy.