Footy Short Story: The Test

 

 

It’s a test. It has to be. Why else would they choose this day? Alex thought.

He couldn’t figure it out. The pay was great, beyond great, but it would have to be to DJ somebody’s wedding on Grand Final day.

He spun tunes. ABBA, mostly. People who are too cool to like Aussie Rules usually like 80s kitsch, he figured.

He looked for clues in the groom’s expression.

The man wasn’t sweating, didn’t seem tense, was not looking over the bride’s shoulder for a telly, but so what? Maybe he was really good at bluffing? Maybe, between speeches, cakes and dances with hairy-lipped relatives, the groom and his best men were sneaking out back to kick a goon bladder around, practising their Leo Barry’s with the busboys?

Alex switched it up, playing Running Bear to please the oldies. There wasn’t a wedding in the history of time that got parental approval without early Elvis or Frank Sinatra.

Then again, he thought. Then again, then again, then again…

Maybe they were tight arses? Everybody across the nation stopped for the game. Business for reception centres would be terrible. Maybe weddings were discounted on Grand Final day?

Maybe the test was of their friends? To see which ones would put the footy before their eternal happiness?

   What sort of people would do that? Alex wondered. Make their friends miss the Big Dance and all its glory? Maybe they were poor, and this was their way of keeping numbers down?

Maybe they were just selfish arseholes?

   Maybe they’re Opera types? he thought, and put on Malcolm McLaren’s Madame Butterfly, followed by Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

 

Maybe The Groom was an ex-Fitzroy supporter and hated everybody.

 

“Psst!” Alex spat to the waiter. “Psst, psst, psst!”

“Yes, Sir?”

“Who winning?”

“Sir?”

“The footy! Has there been any biffo early? Has Goodes taken a screamer? Is Mitchell on his way to the Norm Smith?”

The waiter gave a strange look, then scurried off.

“At least tell me who won the half-time sprint…!” Alex whisper-shouted.

He never would have taken this gig if his beloved Blues were playing! They could not have paid him enough money! The world was navy blue to him!

In Alex’s dreams he was DJ-ing the celebrations of a one point Carlton Premiership over Collingwood. And, in his dreams, to return the favour, the Carlton boys all came to his wedding. Alex was Italian, so, even in his fantasies his family came first, but he was sure he could have fitted S.O.S in with the groomsmen, found a spot for Jezza and Mil Hanna at the good tables. Set Wayne Harmes up with his loud auntie.

She was scary!

But if anybody could tame her, it would be Harmsie! A root for him, and some Navy blue blood in the family. A win-win if ever there was one.

In Alex’s dreams Big Nick was always the preacher.

But it wasn’t his wedding and there were no Carlton players about. No footyheads anywhere.

 

“Psst! Hey, psst!” Alex tried the busboy again.

“Sir?”

“Do you know who kicked the first goal? I have 20 on Rioli…”

“Sir,” the busboy whined. “I come from Queensland and am gay and have absolutely no interest in football.”

“What’s gay got to do with it?” Alex asked, a little taken back. “I mean, apart from the perve factor, there must be gay AFL players. I know Aker said they should stay in the closet for their own good, but I think everybody misread that. I’m pretty sure he tried to hit on me once. He might have been referring to himself with that statement.”

“Who, or what, is an Aker?” the waiter sneered.

Alex was dumbfounded. He’d never met anyone who knew NOTHING of the game. He wondered what the bloke talked about? Him not knowing who Aker was made the DJ feel strangely envious.

“Okay, then I’ll pay you $20 to nip out and get the scores from reception,” Alex whispered.

“Sir!” the waiter pouted. “The groom has forbidden ANY football scores or talk, from ANYONE…”

   That’s it! Alex thought, now sure of his Fitzroy theory. He played their theme song, looking for a reaction. Tears, anger, anything…

The bloke happily mumbled the French national anthem.

“Damn it!” spat Alex.

If the groom was bluffing he was damn good at it!

 

The newlyweds danced, their families danced. Everybody danced. They all flipped and flopped and jigged as if today was any other day, just another wedding. Alex was sweating with tension, hating! Not knowing about the Grand Final was driving him crazy!

Bugger it! he finally thought. I’ve done a good job, I’ve earned the right! And, between Phil Collins and Donna Summer tracks, turned on his microphone.

“Anyone know who’s winning the Big One?” he sheepishly mumbled.

Everybody in the bridal party stopped and winced, mid-dance, except the bride, who span to face Alex.

“Buddy? Can you tell me about Buddy?” she pleaded, eyes manic. “Has he kicked 20 yet? I’ve got to know! How’s my Buddy?”

“Honey,” the groom pleaded.

“Don’t you honey me! Have you kicked a hundred in a year? Huh? Have you?”

“Don’t undo all that therapy. Remember what Dr.-“

“Too late. I’m off the wagon. Do you think he’s sweating yet? Imagine all that sweat…”

“But-“

“Don’t but me! Are you as tall and hot as him? Well, are you? Somebody, quick, get me a television!”

Alex watched as the bridal party moved in around her. She looked left and right, over their shoulders, frantically searching as if Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin might burst through the door on a 2,000 metre lead, scoop her up, then cut back goalwards.

“Silvia! Remember why you chose this day?” somebody who looked like a physiatrist was saying. “To prove your commitment to your husband.”

“One more day, Doc. We’ll have the whole off season!” she answered, trying to fight through the throng around her.

“She booked their honeymoon where Hawthorn are going on their footy trip!” one of the in-laws shouted.

Suddenly everybody was shouting, fighting.

Alex put on some Stone Roses – their shortest song was 14 minutes. Making sure everybody was too busy to notice, he slipped out the kitchen door.

Undoing his tie, Alex ran down the drive as fast as he could. With any luck he’d find a pub in time to catch the last quarter. Be surrounded by people in love. With life, each other and football.

“Do you know what he used to call himself! The One Tonne Gun! Because he shagged 100 women in a year!” Alex heard the bride’s voice shouting somewhere behind him.

“Come back! That’s just urban legend…!” the husband’s voice drifted after it.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Andrew Weiss says:

    Nice story Matt. Proves that no one should ever have a wedding on grand final day no matter what the reason. My cousin decided to have her wedding on the day of the 1989 Grand Final, one of the greatest of all time. We manage to watch the first half before having to head off to the church for the ceremony. The brides future brother in law was a mad Geelong fan and was absolutely spitting chips that he had to go to the ceremony when his beloved Cats were playing in the big one, especially when he had mates that were not going to the ceremony beacuase they were going to watch the game and only got to the recption afterwards. He decided to hide a small radio and headphones in his suit jacket so he could listen to the game during the ceremony. The ceremony started and all was good. He could hear the game and no one really knew he was. That was until the pastor asked if their was anyone in the room who did not think the lovely couple should get married. It was at that time that Ablett must have kicked a goal and the future brother in law went YES quite loudly. You should have seen the faces of eveyone in the church as the future brother in law realised what he had done, quickly slouched in the pew and tried to put the earphones and radio away with out anyone noticing. The look he got from his wife was priceless. Lets say he was in the dog house for quite a while.

  2. Matt Zurbo says:

    Andrrew, that story is an absolute classic! And should be posted in it’s own right! I could so see it in a movie!

  3. Great story Matt. Me and my reformed desperate mates always spend Melbourne Cup day on the golf course. We time it so we are a long way from the club house when the race is run. No radio; no TV; and a well deserved beer at the end of the round when temptation has abated. Can thoroughly recommend it to anyone who wants to avoid all the Spring Carnival bullshit.
    Never seen Tom Waterhouse or Jaimee Rogers on the back 9 at Wembley GC!!!
    Speaking of which – Big Nick as the Vicar is a big stretch.

  4. Matt Zurbo says:

    Peter, you ripper. Put that down and post it!!!

    And, yeah, that was why I said it. I’m told Big Nick was as dodgy as it gets.

  5. Kel booked her wedding specifically to avoid the GF and then got caught up in a replay. Thankfully ceremony was short and TV’s were plentiful with break scores announced for the edification of those too busy drinking to pay proper attention.

  6. Malby Dangles says:

    Love it Matty. As it happens I have a copy of the Fitzroy Football Club song on vinyl…what are the odds!

    I missed out on the legendary grand final in 2005 when a mate was getting married on GF day mainly because of emigration reasons. Me and my friends piled onto the train in our suits and music equipment (we were part of the entertainment) and we hanging for a score…no transistor radio or TV anywhere…goodness me I didn’t even know about “LEO BARRY YOU STAR” until the next day.

  7. Earl O'Neill says:

    Great story Matt, a genuine LOL. My niece was married on GF day, I’ve never let her father forget it especially after his younger daughter was married on the day Sydney played St Kilda this year.
    Fortunately, the GF day wedding was ’07.

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