Blues of the father

I dread Geelong playing on a Friday night these days. Last couple years it was ideal. Finish work, head home or to the pub with the boys, couple of frothies and watch the Cats paste whoever was unlucky enough to be fixtured in for that week. Not this year. Geelong’s general dominance of the last few seasons and their tendency to produce fast-paced blockbusters have seen them rostered to play a high number of Friday night games against the upper eschalon of the football table. Which is great. Except that the Cats look like another team to me this year. A little bit uncertain. A little bit slower. Still with glimmers of my Cats, my champions, my heroes. But the relaxed “we’ll still win” attitude I walked into Docklands with at quarter time when North has been eroded away to uncover the tense and pessimistic Geelong fan who grew up watching footy in the 90s. Who knows without a doubt that we CAN lose. From ANY position. Who inherited from his father the black moods and temper that accompany Geelong losses. (Sorry, Dad.) But it is now his turn to put up with me and my football moods, as I endured his.

Friday night. Carlton. Problem team for us the last few years. I’ve been to two losses against Carlton in three years so I opt not to take another Friday night off work. This does present a few obstacles to overcome. I position myself in the main bar in time for bounce down but the customers do not seem to understand that when they order from the right side of the bar my view of the screen is blocked by the quick-pour spirits shelf. Another reason being that I tend to lose focus when the football is on and/or suddenly start yelling, neither of which is great when you are midway through serving a customer. And then, the kicker, it took all of the first quarter for the girls to figure out I was seriously wound up by the footy and start teasing me. The boys knew better, and Jules. They understood the pain. There were many pats on the back as I grew tenser and tenser. By the time we got back on top it was too late. My mood was a deep blue and holding on for the win was just enough to keep me going. Geelong need to get it together quicker for the sake of my sanity…

After work we’re at the Irish Times for a few and I check the AFL app for the news on the game. I find an article about Peter Riccardi’s goal-after-the-siren win over Carlton in 2002 and read with a growing recognition. Shawn, an American (so she has some excuse for not understanding my mood), asks me what I’m doing being anti-social on my phone (she phrases it not quite so politely) to which I reply, “Well…” and begin to explain the relevance of the article to tonight’s game and to me.

I never actually saw Riccardi’s goal. We watched the entire match except for the final 26 seconds. Geelong were 38 points up at three quarter time; all was well in the Holt house. Then Carlton kicked 7 goals in a row to trail by 4 points with a minute left. All is not well in the Holt house. Camporeale gets a free kick and passes inside 50 to Lappin who plays for a 50 and gets it. Shot from the goal square. Blues by 2. 26 seconds on the clock. Dad turns the TV off, throws the remote and storms out. Dad didn’t find out about Riccardi’s kick after the siren and goal until church the next morning. I didn’t find out about it until he apologised for storming out and explained that we actually won the game later that day.

Shawn is laughing. I’m cheering up. There are many pints to be drunk and a victory to be celebrated. The genetic mood condition that afflicts the male Geelong members of the Holt family is best treated by beers and company I am finding, accompanied by many rueful and relieved shakes of the head!

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