Eureka!

by Andrew Gigacz

Yes, it’s true, Josh Barnstable has already given us a wonderful summary of last Sunday’s game, but I’m prepared to risk being labelled a copycat from North Ballarat. I think our views will be different enough. Josh is a North man; I’m a Dog. He travelled south to get to Ballarat; I travelled north. He fled floods. I drove from dry. And he… – better stop; that’s probably enough.

Anyway, it was a beautiful sunny arvo when I pulled the car up outside the ground known as Eureka Stadium. (Personally, I would’ve called it Eureka Stockadium.) Later in the day it would be the scene of my own little “eureka!” moment, but my first job was to negotiate a parking spot. Although the game was over two hours away the “stadium” (hey, it’s a lovely ground – but a stadium?) perimeter was already lined with cars. I thought I’d have to drive beyond them and park up whoop-whoop somewhere but, as it turned out, at the end of the row of cars, just near the main entrance, there was a wide gap between the last car and the (presumably obligatory) ambulance. I pulled in and added to the row. I got out and I was about two metres from the entry gate. Surely I can’t park here? I looked for signage – none. I checked the gap between me and the ambo – huge; you could drive a b-double through it. So I locked up and made the long two-metre trek to the gate, half- believing that when I got back after the game my car would be either gone or trashed.

I met my North girlfriend Angela on the inside and she took me to meet her (real) partner Matthew and her dad, Greg, who had already snagged the last few grandstand terrace seats. I’d met Matthew once or twice before – lovely man, Swans’ supporter; there was not much for us to disagree on in this situation. And he’s a University of Adelaide alumnus, so we could always talk about some of the Adelaide Uni footy stories I’d learned from John Harms.

But as lovely a man as Matthew is, I was really rapt to meet Greg, Angela’s dad. Angela had told me much about Greg in the past – a Bulldogs’ fan, ex-stationmaster at Gisborne and he likes my Giga Bites column. Somehow, I could just tell we’d get along. And we did. Greg had heaps of great stories about growing up in Camperdown before he got a job shunting at the Spencer Street railyards and later at Jolimont. Played a bit of footy in his time, too. Once, playing in a Hampden league representative side, he led from the forward pocket towards a pre-Collingwood Thorold Merrett who was streaming out of the middle. Merrett’s stab pass hit Greg on the chest. Greg held the mark, but such was the bullet-like quality of Thorold’s kick, it completely winded him and Greg was unable to take the kick. He knew Merrett was destined for greater things.

With game-time approaching, I made my way past the fans and North and Footscray players, all mingling oblivious to the differences in footy jumper colour and celebrity status (another reason to love country footy grounds) to the pie stand. Four bucks for a pie, quite a reasonable price, with the money going to some local community group or other. And nice pies they were too. (Days earlier my Saints girlfriend had gone to Wangaratta for the non-match against Essendon. She had to force money on the pie-sellers there as they were simply trying to offload them so they wouldn’t go to waste.)

But anyway, why was I here again? Oh yes, the footy. When the real game finally started, I had my eureka-ish moment. I haven’t really been happy with the NAB Cup in recent years – except when we won in 2010 of course! It has annoyed me that clubs aren’t going all-out to win it. I liked the days when teams like Essendon and Hawthorn came out and won the pre-season cup and then went on to win the real thing. If it was a real match, pre-season or otherwise, they were out to win it. I’d like to see that again. But as I sat (and then stood – those people in front of us weren’t meant to be there, were they?) on the grand stand terrace knowing that this match was meaningless in terms of winning the pre-season Cup, and that in all likelihood this was going to be a “reload” year for the Dogs, and that it can be fun just to chat to people like Greg and Matthew and Angela, without investing too much emotion in the match, I realised that it IS possible to go and watch your team and to expect something out of it, even if your team’s probably not going to win. It probably seems a little obvious, but for me it was a “eureka” moment at Eureka Stockadium.

We’re not going to win but gee, that Tom Campbell can take a mark can’t he? We lack a bit of pace but wow, Libba and Wallis are going to be prolific ball-winners aren’t they? And Clay Smith looks alright. (“I played with his Grandad”, Greg tells me.) And Zephenia Skinner – my boy Zephi – can this kid jump or what?! He got about one quarter of senior footy last year. And he might be a year or so away from being a regular, but gee I hope McCartney gives him a run of at least seven or eight games at some stage this year. Give him his rein and he could be something really special, even this year.

And there was another kid who bobbed up – Lin Jong. Only got a few touches but in them I saw the possibility of our own version of Linsanity in a couple of years.

Half-time meant going for a walk. I went past the hot dog van and thought “why not?” Seven bucks for a frankfurt in bread, that’s why not. This was a local food van by the look of it. I’m all for supporting local business but $7? Etihad Stadium would be proud! While I swallowed my shock and the hot dog, I kept an eye out for Josh B, who I knew was there somewhere. No luck. No luck either in spotting John Butler, who I didn’t know was there but who was, I found out later. It was a two-JB affair and I saw neither of them. Sorry boys!

After half-time, in my new mode, I even found time to take note of some North players. Like Brent Harvey. He came on after the break and set North alight. Is this going to be the way for brilliant older players with the advent of substitutions? It might not be such a bad thing. And Daniel Wells – wow! He runs like the proverbial wind but doesn’t look like he’s trying. I think Dahlhaus might be close, pace-wise, but he looks like he’s going at 100 miles per hour (or it could just be the hair). Wells is just cruising at 100mph. And I didn’t quite catch who it was, but a North youngster struck me with his ability to change direction in a trice. It reminded me of trying to catch the minnows in the Port Phillip Bay shallows – no chance! (No wonder I don’t know who he was!)

The scoreboard was irrelevant (and I’m not just saying that because we were losing!) and yet amusing. It was a portable job and solar-powered – and very slow to update. Matthew, Angela and I all thought this might have been due to the relatively weak Ballarat sun. Had it not been a nice day, the scoreboard might not just have been irrelevant, but also illegible.

All in all the game was a classic “scrappy affair”, but I saw enough to keep me coming back. Next week we play Geelong at Geelong in a practice match. I’ve never been there and seen us win. My Cats girlfriend, Kat, later asked if I’d be going. “Unlikely” was my response. But now that I know that winning isn’t everything, maybe I will.

North won the game comfortably. As we filed out, I thanked Angela for introducing me to Greg. Hopefully he enjoyed meeting me too. We said our good-byes and I turned to see my car sitting where I’d left it, intact. Eureka!

About Andrew Gigacz

Well, here we are. The Bulldogs have won a flag. What do I do now?

Comments

  1. Are you going down the bay this weekend Gigs?

    Take your wet weather gear.

    Reigning Cats and Dogs

  2. John Butler says:

    Gigs

    You must have been there very early to score one of those terrace seats. ‘Grand’stand may be pushing it.

    At the risk of getting myself drummed out of Ballarat, ‘Stadium’ is pushing it as well. Roll on that North development deal.

    Not that it worries the Mighty Roosters.

    I never got an explanation for why the main scoreboard wasn’t operating.

    But you’re dead right. There’s a lot to be said for the country atmosphere.

    PS: with all these girlfriends, are we going to have to start calling you Hef?

  3. Andrew Fithall says:

    They MUST rename the ground Eureka Stockadium. It is just perfect. I am onto it now,

  4. ‘Girl fiends’ JB? Ain’t that the truth.

  5. John Butler says:

    Drat. I was hoping to correct that little typo before someone noticed.

    Calling Dr Freud?

  6. Peter Flynn says:

    It could become a ground notorious for ‘buoyant’ streakers.

    As an aside, there are doubts on the veracity of the Archimedes tale.

  7. 1984 is alive and well JB.

    I haven’t seen history sanitised so quickly since Big Brother Howard mentioned ‘hunch’ back whales in interview a few years ago.

  8. John Butler says:

    If a typo falls in the forest…

  9. Phantom, still working on a comeback to your first comment. I won’t say anything until I come up with something at least as bad.

    JB, they are just that – girl FRIENDS. I just happen to have quite a few. Proud to be in touch with my feminine side. ;-)

    Flynny, can I just cast those doubts to one side? I’ll put ’em next to the ones I have about the Dogs, the ones we have about where I sat as really being a grand stand and the ones we have about Eureka being a stadium.

  10. Andrew F. Go for it! It’ll make me very proud!

  11. ‘And when the last tall typo has fallen, how ever will we listen to the wind?’

  12. And JB, the main scoreboard was operational all the way through the curtain-raiser. Not sure what the story was there.

  13. Gigs,

    if there is an explosive car prang at the Melbourne Grand Prix will it be raining Datsun cogs?

  14. John Butler says:

    Gigs, I asked around but got no answer.

    But I suspect some local demarcation issue.

    It was quite odd.

  15. Phantom, that is brilliant. I’m tweeting that one today – with a nod to you of course.

  16. Andrew Fithall says:

    Gigs

    This is the response from my cousin who is on the Board at the North Ballarat Football Club in response to the item of amending the name of the football ground which I have brought to his attention.

    Thanks Andrew,
    Board meeting tonight…… it will be top of the Agenda.

    Just between you and me, I am not sure he is serious.

  17. Can’t claim it Gigs.

    If it was a folk song in the it would be listed as ‘Traditional’

  18. Maybe Eddie could do an interview at the meeting tonight Andrew. He seems to have an appetite for the 360 scoop these days.

  19. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    Great work Gigs. Austen Tayshus would be proud. Do you have a Collingwood girlfriend or are some lines just not meant to be crossed?

  20. Aaah Phil. The images that come to mind with a ‘Collingwood girlfriend’

  21. Phil, you should know – it’s Danni!

  22. Thanks, Phantom. When I post it, I will add [Trad.] to the end of it. It might well be the first ever tweet appended thus!

  23. Whoops!

  24. Lovely read Gigz. And sorry you couldn’t make it too Dave’s: you missed an epid chess game between me and young Ted

    See u round 1

  25. Yes, yes it is :) I LOVE GIGS! <3

  26. Thanks Danni! ;-)

  27. Thanks Zitter. Perhaps not as angry as your latest piece – except for the bit where they asked me to fork over seven bucks for the hot dog.

    Who won the chess game?

  28. Stalemate: he had me down King v’s King and Knight …. though I gave him 20 moves to try and beat me. Not bad for a 8 year old, eh?

    PS: And you have sounded off more angry about that hot dog

  29. Phantom – just letting you know that the “raining Datsun cogs” tweet has gone out, with the appropriate “[Trad.]” appended.

    I also just pointed out via a tweet that THE MELBOURNE GRAND PRIX is an anagram of BRRUM! THEN EAR EXPLODING.

  30. Great article Gigs.

    Was there more than one food stand at the ground? Otherwise I would’ve been in line at the one next to the portable toilets opposite the grand stand at half time getting a can of drink ($4!)

    I wasn’t even going to try looking for you in the grandstand – it was packed.

    That Campbell is definitely a player for the Dogs. The North player you mentioned who is quick on changing direction is most likely no.23 Kieran Harper.

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