A feline struggle in a sea of purple and orange

“Forget the footy!”

“ It’s about Glory this weekend!”

“ How long have we waited for this!”

I think I heard these comments over a dozen times each on the weekend when in Brisbane to watch the A-League Grand Final. The two sporting teams that I pigeonhole under ‘By pain of death’ as far as emotional investment goes are the mighty Cats and Perth Glory FC. After many years of mediocrity the Glory had finally found their mojo again with some 1200 to 1500 of us arriving in Brisbane, earning the wrath of partners, bosses or the local constabulary to watch them play the defending champions Brisbane Roar.

On the morning of the game we had marched down to Caxton Street some 500 strong and had taken over Hotel LA on one of the street corners to settle in for the afternoon before the big match. The supporters had commandeered the top balcony and we were primed for a lot of singing and mocking of anyone in orange that walked past for we had 8 years to make up on. For myself and one other though there was the nagging thought that the Cats were playing Richmond down in Geelong. This was a game we had to win even this early in 2012. The Dockers loss was gutting but acceptable first up and the North win was a disappointing scare but a loss to Richmond would have the ’Henny Penny’ sections of our support out in force with the ‘H’ word being bandied about on all forms of media, internet forums and pub talk.

I had to see at least some of this game but as Tim Rogers explained in the forward of the 2009 Footy Almanac: It’s easier to see a live AFL game in a French nightclub than it is in Queensland. Yet, there was hope. There was no NRL on this weekend so without the wall to wall coverage of that code, there was a sliver of hope of the game being on at least one screen. I excused myself from the Glory hordes upstairs and promised the fellow cat fan I would get an update and return. I went past the band, down the stairs, through the pokies, dodging the Roar fans to head where there were a few televisions. After getting the barmaid’s attention I requested the Fox Footy channel and was given a look of disdain that would have only been equaled if I’d said I was a registered sex offender and I was moving in to the local area.

Still, she relented and on a small television without any sound the pictures from Kardinia Park came through. Chappy playing forward and Stokes kicking an opener was a nice surprise but Richmond match us goal for goal in the first with that rare event of an interchange rule breach helping their cause. Quarter time. Time to relay the score and the concerns about Chappy to the Corio Bay comrade and engage in a bit of a sing song with the purple hordes up on the balcony.

After a beer and a handshake with more people from back home arriving it was back past the band, down the stairs, through the pokies, dodging the Roar fans to head back to the smallest big screen TV in town but what was this? An NRL game? From what looks like five years ago!? They’d changed the channel! This would be the second biggest injustice of the day (the biggest would happen at Lang Park at around 6.02pm EST) so, again, a small meek request is made to the bar staff and the Cattery is back on the screen that is flanked by two other screens featuring Willy Mason’s gargantuan head. It’s well in to the second quarter and Motlop sets up Pods, showing the hype surrounding the youngster is worthy. The Tigers are not using the breeze well and are missing a heap of shots. The Cats are looking comfortable at half time so back to up the balcony to report what’s happening like I’d just come back from no man’s land after spying on an enemy machine gun battery.

By this time the balcony was heaving, the noise huge and the songs being aimed at anyone wearing orange down below on the street not lacking any wit or purpose. A beer, a singsong, a handshake for someone else who has just arrived and then time to go back downstairs as the third quarter surely must have started by now. So once again it was the band, stairs, pokies, Roar fans combo and back in front of the TV with another XXXX Bitter. Richmond impress in the third and get within touching distance but my West Australian pride kicks in with Duncan kicking a consolidating goal while Johnson continues to frustrate but sets up Chappy who keeps his head above water by kicking truly. Yet Richmond still keep in touch. Three quarter time, 12 points the difference thanks to two late Tigers goals with the visitors with the breeze for the final quarter.

Back up the stairs the beer has kicked in, the reality of Glory’s task staring us in the face closer to kick off and everyone ready to walk down to the stadium. The final quarter action would have to be relayed to me by text. On the walk down the heaving Caxton Street past the bars and BBQs with the rest of the Glory horde the phone vibrates with a message from a friend back home watching the match.

“Scores level. Tigers all over us and bombing them in. Go Roar!”

Even friends love sticking the boot in to the Glory. The concern about Geelong and the concern that Glory might get completely belted by Roar arm wrestle for my thoughts, I decide on massive Dutch courage and switch the phone off but that lasts until I get to the ground. However, once the phone is back on there’s no reception in the quite brilliant Lang Park/Suncorp Stadium. Non-communication and almost kick off time for the big one so the Cats’ concerns were forced into a car trunk in my mind and told to shut up.

Cut to some two and a half hours later and friends and I are dejected, bitter, gutted and walking back up Caxton St staring down anyone that dare tries to mock us over the Glory result. The phone vibrates once I’m not surrounded by some 50,000 people and in between the mocking and commiserating messages about what we’d just seen around the corner there were the updates on the last quarter down South.

“Bundy goal!”

“Who’s this Stringer?”

“Mackie and Bartel everywhere again. Harry having a shocker.”

“Can’t buy a goal. Up by 10”

“All over. Cats by 10. That was shocking. Enjoy Brisbane.”

A win, not much of a win but perhaps Richmond are ‘an improving team’ like the Roos are and we’re not struggling as much as the little voice in our head and 99% of the media are trying to tell us. The snoozy cats are a worry but at this point in Brisbane for me there’s dodgy penalty decisions to debate, bitterness to draw out like snake poison and a pub to return to to be surrounded by my own kind to dissect the farcical end to the round-ball showpiece event. Concern about the premiers can wait until next week. Seeing at least 30 minutes of the Cats on television in Brisbane is much like the Cats’ win on this day: ugly, fleeting and enough to take the points. Hopefully a team from Brisbane won’t haunt my life again next week, this was all enough to make me start going for the Blues in the State of Origin.

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. Contributer to Football Nation Radio and Football West. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.

Comments

  1. Basso Divor says:

    A great review Dennis. I enjoyed your struggle to balance the conflicting priorities filed under “By pain of death” and can well imagine the problems in accessing televised AFL deep within in a rugby stronghold.
    I enjoy your writing – Keep up the good work.

  2. Siamese Cat says:

    That was a good yarn. I remember reading this earlier in the year, and liking it. The “dragging the zeppelin out of a cat’s arse” comment brought me back.

    Keep writing.

Leave a Comment

*