There’s a hundred other, much more urgent, things I could be doing while on the train right now going to Uni. I’ve got two interviews to transcribe (one for Uni, another for someone else, which is even worse), notes to cram before a cadet test today (fun fact – there are 41 Federal and Victorian ministers, and amongst them is Martin Foley, who has FIVE portfolios – how on earth does he ever get anything done?), and five or six podcasts to catch up on that I’ve been neglecting because of the aforementioned transcribing.
But today’s my birthday, and so I’m celebrating my quarter-life crisis by writing what I want to write. Taylor Swift, in her infinite wisdom, said that at 22, people are “happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time”. This seems apt because that’s how I feel about football at the moment. Plus I’m 22 today.
My beloved Tigers have slumped to 2 and 4, and seem to have reverted to the early days of Dimma’s reign. I’m doing a project at the moment in which I chose to look back at a week in the sport section of the newspapers. I chose the week of 5-11 April 2010, and found that Dimma was “vowing to not change his approach”, and the Tigers were turning the ball over more than keeping it. They’d just been thumped by the Bulldogs. Things hadn’t changed so much that it was almost laughable.
And so I look elsewhere for my football joy. A friend recently said that he didn’t like sport because there weren’t any storylines or plots, like movies or tv shows. I tried in vain to explain that that was actually the essence of sport, that was why people kept coming back – the ongoing stories, the stories within stories, the heroes, the villains, the judges (umpires) and jury (media and fans). So these are some of the elements of the grand story of football that have given me joy this year:
Ignoring the fact that in two years, this will be an AFL-created monster that will more than likely go on to win multiple premierships while consigning the likes of Richmond and Carlton to another rebuild because the last one was severely compromised, GWS are exciting. These are young boys (topped up by a few older stars) who have suffered loss after humiliating loss in their short careers. And they just beat the reigning premiers, the bullyboys of the comp who they could soon replace. A possible changing of the guard? (also I am so sick of Hawthorn winning everything).
2. Bob Murphy
I’ve loved Bob for a long time now. An ill-fated sojourn into the world of fantasy football, maybe a good six years ago now, saw me pick a then-Robert Murphy, who proved to be a mainstay in an absolute disaster of a team (in my defence, Jack Ziebell and Shaun Higgins are now stars). I’ve followed his career with interest ever since, but it was his columns in ‘The Age’ that won me over. He writes with passion and whimsy, and can simultaneously build a picture and cut to the core of the absurdities of football. Now he’s captain, and the Bulldogs have built a season to be envied out of a club that was gutted at the end of last year.
3. The Bulldogs
Continuing with the Doggies theme, I’ve loved seeing how the Bulldogs have caused upset after upset (last round being the exception). I love watching the pace of Lin Jong, the strength of Marcus Bontempelli, and the cool head of Matthew Boyd. Will Minson has been a favourite of mine since I had an Indigenous Studies class with him at Melbourne Uni. The lambs are becoming lions. Richmond, this is how you do a rebuild. Take note.
4. Cory Gregson
My mum’s a Geelong supporter, so I watch a lot of the Cats’ matches with her, and this little guy has stood out a mile. Being of decidedly below-average height myself, I always have a soft spot for the little guys of the AFL (who are still miles taller than me, I might add). Gregson was an outstanding gymnast who won under-age national titles. In his second game, he tackled Aaron Sandilands, and brought him to ground. On Friday night, he kicked three goals, including the sealer, in his sixth game. He’s gutsy, and he doesn’t give up.
I know this one might reek of sour grapes (do they actually smell?), but I wouldn’t be a true Richmond supporter if I didn’t take at least a smidgeon of schadenfreude out of the disaster of Carlton’s season. When Richmond is doing badly, you want Carlton to be doing worse. And they are. It’s made even better by the fact that Mick Malthouse is coaching them, a man who treats journalists with complete and utter disdain (granted, Mark Stevens probably deserves it given some of the idiotic “statements-posed-as-questions” he utters). I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.