Champagne Football: Myth and Bubbles

By Phil Dimitriadis

Champagne is the alcoholic drink commonly associated with upper class tastes. It appears absurdly paradoxical that many fans that utter this expression would probably do so with while drinking beer or soft drinks. The only time we see champagne after a game of football is when it is poured into the premiership trophy to celebrate the triumph of the winning team. ‘Champagne Football’ is a symbolic saying that categorizes the possibility or tangible reality of ultimate success while still engaging in archetypal worship of gods. Mythologian Tom Chetwynd once wrote:

Ambrosia in Greek mythology, the wine of the Christian mass – transformed into blood – is the means of contact with the Divine. As Lord of Time, determining the period of fermentation, the Moon deity was also responsible for the mysterious effect of alcohol on mind and mood. And the liquid essence of the deity was the semen of fertility, as well as the power of growth, and immortality.

In essence ‘Champagne Football’ is more about the feeling than the drink.  Those who have had ‘champagne hangovers’ can attest that it can be a malevolent beverage. This can also happen when footy teams play brilliantly in April only to reveal themselves as cheap plonk by the end of May. The irony is that this sobering reality can have anything but a sobering effect. Essendon and Carlton fans have been particularly susceptible to the imaginary utopia of early season form this year. They often played ‘champagne football’ in the first month and finished outside the finals at the end of the season.

Perhaps this expression is a metaphor for transcending perceived class orientations. The relative cheapness of beer as the choice of the working class pundit can be replaced for a moment by indulging in a taste usually reserved for people with money, prestige and power. The perception of it is more intoxicating than the actual taste.

According to Hibberd and Hutchinson in The Barrackers Bible, ‘champagne football’ denotes a style of play that is “applied to a game distinguished by an effervescent style, with all the skills superbly on display; invariably on a sunny day.”

The phonetic utterance of the word ‘champagne’ probably has much to do with the popularity of the expression. Somehow ‘VB football’, ‘Fosters football’, wine, whiskey or ‘any port in a storm football’ doesn’t seem to have the same poetic bling or effervescence that champagne does. Footy needs hyperbolic epithets to give the game meaning and a hint of conversational credibility for fair-weathered fans.

And yet in thirty five years of going to Australian Rules football matches as a spectator I have yet to see anyone drinking a glass of champagne in the outer, or even at the Melbourne Cricket Club members area, while watching a game of football. How people imbibe in corporate boxes is another thing. Do they really watch the game anyway? The point is that you see countless spectators watching the game while clutching a beer, soft drink or cans with mixed spirits, but rarely if ever a glass or even plastic cup of champagne while watching the action out in the open.

The myth of champagne is therefore debunked. We want to think it, we want to see it metaphorically, but do we really want to drink it?

 

About Phillip Dimitriadis

Carer/Teacher/Writer. Author of Fandemic: Travels in Footy Mythology. World view influenced by Johnny Cash, Krishnamurti, Larry David, Toni Morrison and Billy Picken.

Comments

  1. Never bought into ‘champagne football’.

    Champagne sketch comedy however… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJFg-4fJGV8

  2. Personally I’d like to see a pint-of-Guiness-with-a-glass-of-Tullamore-Dew-football.

    Or Henscke-Hill-Of-Grace-football.

    The only time I drink champagne is if the beer,wine, whiskey and salad dressing are finished.

  3. I have had a champagne hangover and can attest to it being a malevolent beveridge.

    Debiunked yes, but I still like the saying, Phil.

    Great work

  4. Phil, My Richmond-supporting wife and I (a Cats man) managed to smuggle some chicken and champagne into the 1980 Grand Final, which we observed from the old Southern Stand. I must admit it went down particularly well as the game unfolded, particularly for her, even though we had to drink out of plastic.

    You could make a case that the Tigers played champagne football that day. I generally prefer ‘beer and blue collar’ football myself. Not sure if that qualifies as a hyperbolic epithet. I suspect not.

    Dips, the Guinness-Tullamore Dew combination sounds interesting. I like the Hibernian touch. Sadly I’ve gone off anything with the word Dew in it since the 2008 Grand Final.

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