It was a weekend seeped in football and connections. For the first time in months I made it along to an Almanac lunch on Friday, a day out listening to Braham Dabscheck, (according to the Almanac site, a leading authority in the area of player associations and unions) and Mark Branagan (a lawyer and historian) who were both having a chat with John Harms at the luncheon.
The week before last, I had made contact with Braham as another St.Kilda Football Almanac writer, supporter, tragician via the site, and it ended up that he was heading to the St.Kilda vs Richmond match, and we decided he’d join our tribe. And I’d also decided to come to the function. So as I walked into the Waterside early, we spotted each other, me with my St.Kilda scarf and jewellery and glasses and nails, he with a suit and a Saints tie. Braham’s dress sense was understated but he was as footy nutty as my colour bombing circus. I’d found another one. Another person to share history and love of the St.Kilda Football Club and the passion for our struggling Saints. Making these connections seems to ease the pain of this year’s bottoming out. More distractions and associations. More storytelling and learning about another person and their St.Kilda journey.
The luncheon was full of meeting old and new faces, putting the people to their Almanac tags, saying g’day and eating good food, and listening to Braham and Mark telling us about the history of the AFL Players Association. These guys knew their history and time got away from us, with only a skerrick of information shared compared to their collective learning, memory and treasure trove of possible storytelling.
From the mostly older participants of the Almanac luncheon, I headed home to my fake grandson Luke, and while dinner was warming, played the marble game, where we built a plastic tubed, marble routes, with spinning wheels and curving structures and that occupied us for a whole hour before eating. I used to play this game with my own son Daniel, who would spend so much of his early life building and rebuilding these structures and working out how to make the marble roll down in the most complex of ways. It’s a great game, and Luke, at 3 ½ loved playing this with his Nanna. Disney movies had me almost dozing off after dinner. The game on Friday night ended up being most engaging in the last quarter, and Rina and I caught up with each other over the last moments of the Cats vs Bomber exciting match.
The weekend continued with its intensity, with Saturday morning finding me and three others helping my cousin move out of her home, with the stresses and hard work that this entails. Thankfully, I had the distraction of the St.Kilda vs Richmond match to aim for, and Rina and I travelled in, meeting Uncle Bob once again on the train, heading into the Dome and the waiting Braham.
On the station entrance, waiting for Rina, two incidents happened. A woman stopped and smiled at my Saints gear, telling me her family were Sainters and she thought she’d discovered some early history of the meaning of the black cross within the Saints emblem, in Wales. She’ll be writing it up and emailing it to me. Another chap, a worker in his gear, walking past with his bike, asked me about the Saints game, a long-time supporter with a bicycle helmet with the perfect red, white and black colouring. Souls who shared the same beat of the St.Kilda heart.
With Uncle Bob off grabbing lunch, Braham and Rina talked about their union connections, Rina as part of Actors Equity in the 70’s and I am forever in awe of the vagaries of life. On top of that, more Almanacker contact, other writers emailing or texting me of their presence, and Braham getting to meet more of the writers from the site, and me putting faces to names.
Richmond chose this game against us to play themselves into some form. Once again we were blown away in the first, before showing better competiveness and skill in the 2nd and 3rd quarter, and being totally eclipsed in the last. It was great having the company, sharing stories and bad jokes, and history, as Braham and Uncle Bob swapped stories of the old Junction Oval days.
In the St.Kilda Richmond game, the good moments were still so patchy, the young still learning, the older players wearing down, and it is hard to see the Saints winning another game this year. So I mentally wave higher draft picks in front of my mind’s eye just to create some positives for my Saints. My personal positives are fine, it’s just hard for these young men to begin their careers with such a poor team performance. Mind you, this is how the Saints were playing when Reiwoldt, Hayes, Goddard, Montagna et al got drafted. The new blood will change the future history. They will remember this.
The next best thing about the day, and the evening, was the company of a new friend and my cousin Garry, as we ate great Chinese food before everyone went their own ways again.
My third straight football mad day was back at the Dome today, very early in the morning, arriving at 10am to watch the Women’s Football League Game between the Doggies and the Demons teams with my sister Denise. In this annual game, the Melbourne team absolutely thumped the Western Bulldogs team, in a very skilful display of good, hard football. We watched from upstairs at the restaurant, eating a delicious lunch with Denise’s sister-in-law Becky and her son Hugo, before heading our separate ways for the main match. Thank goodness the Women’s match wasn’t a precursor of results for the main game. It made us long for a pre-match game, a reserves game of women’s football, well attended even at the early hours, and a match to draw us to the footy earlier.
And what a game this turned out to be, firstly the Dog’s running away, and then the Demons charging back, and the tight struggle until the final moments with a six point victory to the Western Bulldogs. It was better football, a better match between two desperate sides, more skilful and easier to watch because as much as I wanted the Doggies to win, it wasn’t my Saints in the struggle to the match-death, it was someone else’s team. The investment was there but it wasn’t as deep.
The win was enjoyed by Denise and I, and we’ll take it any day, even when leaving the stadium to a complete and utter soaking of a Melbourne winter’s evening. This too, like the game before the AFL game, reminded us of old times. The drowning before, during and after, a match. The day ended with me getting the wrong train, an express to Caulfield instead of one straight to Malvern. Another adventure. Another footy weekend.
Collingwood and Carlton play away as I write up my footy madness and the week with all its challenges and realities, begins again tomorrow. Tonight, I will cherish my crazy weekend.