AFL Round 4 – Brisbane v Footscray: The Wedding

by Andrew Gigacz

Saturday night footy – Brisbane undefeated up against the pre-season premiers, the Mighty Dogs.

This would normally be a pretty exciting prospect for me. Sneak round to a Foxtel friend’s house, share a few beers, and watch the Doggies put the Lions back in their place.

But not this week. Footy Almanac legend Paul Daffey had decided that this would be a good night to tie the knot. You wouldn’t think an Almanacker would even entertain the thought of such a preposterous arrangement. But I must remember, he is a Richmond supporter.

So, plans needed to be made. The reception was to be at the Fitzroy Town Hall. My intelligence sources advised me that the Napier Hotel, complete with TV, was just across the road. With the groom’s blessing, it was agreed that I and fellow Footscray followers could take the occasional ‘smoko’ and check the progress of the game. This would be supplemented by ongoing progress-score texts from strategically placed (i.e. in front of a telly) informants. In the event of a tight finish, a mad dash to the Napier for the final frenetic minutes would not be frowned upon (at least by the groom; hopefully the new Mrs Daffey was as forgiving).

Everything was in place. The scene was set for a wonderful night.

But somehow I wasn’t really looking forward to this evening. Not because I would be missing the game, or because I had reservations about this beautiful pair tying the knot. In fact it was partly because the formalising of their bond seemed so right that the night would be an especially difficult one for me.

You see, my wife and I separated in August last year. It was seen in some quarters as a trial separation. But, in truth, neither of us held much hope of the relationship being saved. I moved out and we got on with our lives. With two kids we would still have to work closely together. And we did, pretty successfully. Indeed both of us seemed to flourish to a certain degree.

But just in the last few weeks, I began to think of the many years of happiness we’d shared before events of the last couple had tested our love and friendship. And I started thinking that maybe I wasn’t really ready to move on. With a bit of time and space I could see some of the reasons why a rift grew between us. More importantly, I could see that the damage was not irreparable.

So I took this notion to my wife. And was hit by a ten-tonne truck. She had spent the past months overcoming the pain of separation and was, in her mind, moving on. The very thought of us rekindling a flame was utterly incomprehensible to her. If I had had any doubts about having a healthy male ego prior to this, they were put to rest immediately. The very thought that she would not entertain the idea of a reunion was unfathomable to me. I mean, in the words of Jerry Seinfeld, “what’s not to like”?!

Sadly, over the next few days I displayed no shortage of aspects of myself that were indeed “not to like”. I became emotionally aggressive and tried to “convince” my wife of what a terrible mistake she was making. She called it bullying. I’m ashamed to say she was right.

Amazingly, in the face of such a barrage of unfair behaviour from me, she agreed to come with me to see a relationship counsellor.

Over the next day or two, I managed to (barely) pull myself together. And I had time to reflect. And the more I reflected, the more an awful realisation overcame me. I had always considered that my wife and I were equally to blame for the breakdown of our relationship. But as I began to unravel the last 20-odd years in my mind, it dawned on me that that wasn’t really true. What was true was that I had failed her many times over many years, especially in the last few. Sure, she wasn’t blameless but for the first time ever, I saw the true breadth of my flaws, and realised that underneath I’d always known they were there but had never been brave enough to confront them.

And so on the morning of the wedding, we met for our counselling session. The male ego must still be healthy because I made it all about me. But at least for once it was about recognising things about me that aren’t the ones I’m proud of.

Having worked so bravely through the healing process, my wife was understanding and forgiving. But she made it clear to me that she had not resiled from her new mindset. This was an incredibly painful thing for me to hear. But I know that I caused her at least as much pain through my past actions and inactions. I could not, can not, blame her for reaching that point.

I made a commitment to do all I can in future to make sure we have the best relationship possible, not just for our kids, but for both of us. My love for her was long-buried under a pile of baggage I’d stupidly surrounded myself with. And now that I have found it again, all I can hope for is happiness for both of us in whatever form the relationship takes.

Getting ready for the wedding was hard. This would be the first I’d been to, post-breakup. The happiness I feel for the newly-nuptualised Almanackers is immense. But it also serves to accentuate the pain I have caused and that I am now myself experiencing.

The early Bulldog updates were good: after a close start to the game the Dogs had broken away to hold a five-goal lead early in the third. I should’ve been rapt. But all I felt was empty. I tried to put up a charade of pleasantness, probably not very successfully.

News came through that the Lions were mounting a comeback. By half-way through the last quarter scores were level. My Bulldog mate Chris and I made use of our “leave passes” and headed for the Napier. I hoped to see the Dogs hang on for a win, but I’d already marked this night down as a loss (in my life) anyway.

As if to underline the situation I found myself in, we discovered that the Napier was showing the Magpies-Hawthorn game and they did not have the facilities to display our game.

Chris and I walked to the nearest pub that was showing the match. Being in Fitzroy, it was full of Lions supporters. We walked in to see a happy bunch of them as Brisbane kicked the last goal to coast to a 22-point win.

Back to the reception, and when the speeches were done, I told Chris I was gonna do a runner. He asked if I was ok and said “yeah, just tired”, unconvincingly.

I sneaked out and walked home.

What should have been a wonderful night was not, for me. Not because of the Dogs going down. As I walked, I reflected on how much footy meant to me, and yet how little it really meant to me.

In sport we have it drummed into us that we must keep our eye on the ball. But I’ve spent too much time in past few years with my eye on the ball and not enough on those I love most – my family.

The Dogs can regroup next week and get back on the winners list.

I can regroup too, and I will. But it is extremely doubtful that process will lead to me winning back the heart of my wife.

And that’s the only kind of winning I really care about now.

Votes: I couldn’t split them. 2 each to my beautiful (ex-)wife and two darling boys for all that they have endured.

*Special thanks to Kim for giving her blessing to me exposing such a private and painful part of our lives.

About Andrew Gigacz

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

Comments

  1. Gigs – wow. Talk about giving people perspective ! Your current struggles are a million times more important than any that will go on on the football fields this weekend or any weekend. Concentrate on the important things but use the Doggies great victories like an injection of adrenalin to keep you going.

    Good luck old boy. Something good will happen.

  2. We didn’t see this coming Gigs, but you’re a great guy and you have our full support. We love you Gigs! Keep up your remarkable work.

    Danni and Josh.

  3. Pamela Sherpa says:

    Weddigs- someome could write a book about them.
    Break ups- someone could write a book about them too!
    Geez Gigs- if your football obsession is a flaw at least it is a meaningful one.

  4. Steve Healy says:

    Very good piece Gigs, I hope all of that works out well.

    I love your dedication to finding the scores, whatever it takes. Reminds me much of myself.

    Don’t worry, our great game always gives us hope

  5. Thanks for all the supportive comments guys. It means so much to me at a very difficult time.

  6. Gigs,

    You missed the speeches!

    At least you’ve still got your timing.

  7. Peter Schumacher says:

    Hi Gigs,

    I have come in late on this one.

    I found this contribution to be extremely moving. Fortunately I have never had to endure this circumstance although I too have been a less than perfect spouse, that is, for years I put my own desire to be physically fit ahead of the interests of my family yet my wife tolerated this. Also both of us are WASPS but she has been the main bread winner over the last 12 years a situation I have never become used to but which she has borne without complaint.

    I guess that my contributions to this site have not always been up to scratch because even though I have become the self appointed contributor of “The View From Shepparton” I have tried to bear in mind that Beverley, whilst very supportive, cannot be expected have each weekend subjugated by wall to wall footy. Indeed this is one reason why I have not subscribed to pay TV although it would be a huge boon in terms of putting together a little better my rambling thoughts.

    I wish you all the best for the future, and given the circumstances hope that ultimately it will still work out for the best for you. Your contribution has for me put into perspective what is really important in life and it isn’t football.

    Regards

    Peter Schumacher

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