Daylight fails to save Hawks by Tim Baker

 

Whoever heard of daylight savings running into April? Being an AFL fan in the sub-tropics is hard enough without this. I am trying to get our three-year-old, Alex, to sleep before I slip off to my mate Matt’s place. He has Foxtel, and a media room, with a projector and a wall sized screen. It’s the next best thing to being there, even if the monsoonal storms and cane toads in the front yard remind you that you’re a long way from the home of footy. 

Alex knows I’m trying to get away and isn’t playing ball. It’s almost 7, with a 7.10 bounce of the ball. I’m getting desperate but try to relax. He picks up on my vibe, I know this from experience. I tell him it’s time to sleep and kiss him good night. He protests, asks for his mum. I slip out and wonder whether Mum’s going to play ball. It’s the second night in a row I’ve gone out and last night Alex was up ‘til 9 giving mum hell. Though usually accommodating of the footy, she’s exhausted. To exacerbate the situation, I’ve been indulging my other obsession, surfing, like a pig at a trough for the past two weeks during a remarkable run of brilliant Autumn swell. In short, I have used up my quota of fun vouchers. I give Kirst a pained grin, hope she’ll take pity on me. She sighs, God love her, and traipses into Alex’s room to soothe him. I don’t wait around to hear the outcome. I have another outcome on my mind. I creep out the door, ready to deal with the fall-out another day, hoping the sensor light won’t set the boy off again. 

The trusty, though rusted ‘89 Camry hurtles me round to Matt’s in record time. It’s a smart, mod Oz canal home, with palms and a pool and pebbles and pavers and feels a slightly incongruous venue for footy watching. But he’s a genuine AFL man, a long suffering Saints supporter with a keen eye for the game and soft spot for the Hawks. 

“What’s happened?” I blurt out as I stumble through the door. His two-year-old girl Daisy’s gone down without a fuss and his wife’s at the movies so we’ve got the run of the place. 

He has two words for me, two words that send a chill through me as intense as if he’d said, “Franklin’s injured.”

“Daylight savings.” Aaaaaah. You have got to be fucking kidding me.

“It’s half-time. But it’s like they’re starting over. Hawks are up by three.”

I cannot believe it. The glass, as I see it, even with a three point lead, is definitely half empty. I only get these four quarters of football a week, no analysis in the papers, precious few highlights on the evening news, no meaningful discussion at all in any media of note in this rugby state. I need my four quarters. I feel robbed, and the feeling never quite leaves me as the game resumes.

Who are all these fresh youthful faces running about in brown and gold? I feel like I don’t know half the team. You don’t hear about these things up here. It took me days to find out Hodge had no case to answer at the tribunal. But even he isn’t himself tonight. They look lost, panicked every time the ball goes forward, sadly under-gunned in defence.

This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. After the unexpected glory of the granny, an opportune trip to Melbourne and the unbelievable good fortune of a ticket to the big game, I was ready to move back to the old home town. There was a glorious new era unfolding and I wanted to be a part of it. Now I’m kind of glad I haven’t sold the Currumbin beach house and put the surfboards in storage.

Can these be the same blokes who killed the shark? There are signs of hope late in the third term and I boldly predict we’re going to go in at three quarter time in front. Matt concurs. Franklin makes a mad majestic dash through middle. Rioli shows flashes. Campbell Brown is his usual desperate, rock solid self. But the rest of them? Bateman should never have cut his hair. He looks like Ben Stiller. The lanky boy scout on Hall looks like he’s ready to cry every time the ball lobs their way. Mitchell’s gone missing.  Nothing’s working. The aged Swans have been mocked for still relying on 13 players from their premiership side of 2005, but they are full of run tonight.  The decimated Hawks only have one more premiership player in their side than the Swans, and it’s only six months ago. A late surge by the Swans kills my hopes of a lead at the final change and it doesn’t get any better. Hodge, Roughead and Rioli all miss crucial shots on goal in the last term when we are still in with a chance – proof that last year’s premiers have actually been kidnapped by aliens and these are feeble avatars playing in their place. Where are my Hawks?

There’s not even any late last quarter revival to salvage some pride like last week and we are none from two. Matt’s Saints, conversely, are two from two. Who would have thought?

I drive home sullen, past the beachfront and the telltale lines of whitewater still visible through the dark. At least there will be waves tomorrow.

 

 

 


Buy Tim’s books online at:

http://www.bytimbaker.com/books 


 

 

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au He has written many columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted j.t.h@footyalmanac.com.au He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo9, Anna8, Evie6. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.

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