Beating the nerves (and the Hawks)

 

by Cait Mullen

Normally, I go to the footy with my dad and siblings but as they’re all away I’ve had to scrounge up a replacement to go to the Geelong v. Hawthorn game with me. After being away for 12 months I have craved the atmosphere and emotions of going to the footy and wouldn’t miss this game for the world. So I browbeat my friend Sasha into coming with me, she doesn’t care for football particularly but I can be persuasive and she gives in. I bring a spare Cats scarf, jumper, and beanie so that she knows which team she’s barracking for.
We meet at Richmond station at 1:45 and it’s hailing. Not just raining. Hailing. Oh God. It’s going to be a long day. Luckily the hail stops and the rain calms down and we head to the ground, me desperate to get some half decent seats. We end up in the second row of the top level, directly opposite the MCC stands. I’m excited but nervous.

Sasha doesn’t understand.  “Why are you so nervous?”
“It’s Hawthorn.”
“So?”
“I don’t like losing to Hawthorn. Not after ’89 and ‘08”
“You’re 18. You weren’t alive in 1989”
I roll my eyes. She doesn’t care about footy, what would she know?

The game begins and I’m on the edge of my seat right from the beginning. We kick the first goal and she’s pleased but it does nothing to alleviate my anxiety. They kick goals. We kick goals. My stress level keeps rising. At least if we were getting smashed then I could resign myself to the fact we were going to lose. This is worse. Every time they pull ahead I want to cry and every time we’re in front I’m praying that we can further our lead.

1st quarter ends. We’re up by 3.

2nd quarter ends. We’re down by 9 points.

3rd quarter ends. We need three goals.

I can’t help but feel this is going to be disastrous. We’re not going to win this. But we could! We’ve done it before. But it’s Hawthorn! So?

I’m at war with myself, trying to resign myself to the fact that we’ll probably lose but still not prepared to give up hope.

Suddenly, Podsy has kicked three goals and we’re in it. Maybe we can still win. The last 10 minutes are hard but we’re in front.  Only by 3 points. It could go either way and I’m clutching at Sasha’s arm until she tells me that I need to stop because it’s hurting her. I apologise but don’t look away. I can’t. If I take my eyes off the game then it might slip away.

The ball is down their end and I swear, my heart is trying to leap out of my throat. I’m going to be sick.  It goes through for a point. We can’t let them get the ball. We have to win. “Why won’t the siren blow?” I’m screaming. I need it to blow or we might lose. And we can’t lose to Hawthorn. Not to Hawthorn.

The siren goes and I’m screaming. Sasha claims that I started crying. I deny it of course, laughing it all off, telling her that I wasn’t worried at all. She looks at me, raises an eyebrow and mutters. I don’t catch all of it but I do hear the words, “Geelong”, “desperate”, and “crazy”. But she doesn’t love the Cats. What would she know?

Comments

  1. Cait – nervous finish wasn’t it?

    Cats probably pinched it, but it was a mighty victory.

    Put Josh Hunt, Varcoe, Wojo, Vardy, Menzel and a bloke called Scarlett back into that side and it looks pretty strong.

  2. Richard Naco says:

    “What would she know?”

    Precisely.

    But you and I knew, Cait, you and I most certainly knew. And tears would have been perfectly appropriate in those circumstances.

    (Well told, btw.)

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