Gramps

Footy season is upon us and with it comes the mandatory enthusiasm for new beginnings and a fresh start. The losses of last year are momentarily forgotten as fans busy themselves with predictions for the final 8 and study the form for their fantasy league teams. My excitement is building, albeit with a careful eye on the rumbling drug cloud that is hovering over my beloved Bombers. But this season will be different to any of the others I’ve lived through. It will be the first without my Grandpa.

My 90-year-old Grandpa, Frank Jordan, passed away a few weeks before Christmas last year, leaving behind a strong legacy and a lifetime of football memories. Born in 1922, it’s fair to say that he lived through a fair bit of footy history. The changes in that time are significant but his love for the game never seemed to waver.

Gramps just loved his footy. He was a raconteur, a bushman, a poet, a larrikin, a husband, a father of eight, a grandfather of 31, a Cats fan. He was passionate about the Cats until the very end. He’d always tried to convince me to switch allegiances to Geelong. Only days before he passed away, propped up by pillows on his bed and gaunt with illness, he was still telling me it wasn’t too late to change. I politely declined. So he moved on to telling me what was wrong with the Australian cricket team. A man for all seasons.

He was never short of an opinion. It was wise to steer clear of politics and religion when making conversation. Occasionally it was wise to avoid footy too. But, somehow, it would almost always return to footy. He was a passionate supporter of Billy Brownless and many a letter was sent down Geelong Road to either Billy or the coach to set things straight. One night, after a game at Waverley Park, as us kids scurried around getting autographs and photos Gramps shook Billy’s hand and introduced himself.

I’m not sure if many letters had to be sent over the last five or six years. He seemed to take great delight in the Cats’ recent success. All of his eight kids are Cats fans and a fair chunk of his 31 grandkids are too. There were probably times when they questioned following in his footsteps but the eventual pay off was well worth it. I know I had to stop ribbing my sisters and cousins.

Gramps also took great delight in watching his grandchildren play footy. A few years ago, as he watched a whole mob of us having a scratch match at a local oval during Easter, he noted that none of these people would have been there if it wasn’t for him and Grandma. There was pride in that statement.

The last game of footy that he saw live was his grandson Tom playing in a VAFA Grand Final at Trevor Barker Oval last season. Frail, I had to walk with him to the toilets so he didn’t trip on the uneven ground. On the way back to where we were sitting, he gestured towards the canteen and said “Do you wanna go halves in one of those saveloys?” I enjoyed the ‘retro’ use of the word ‘saveloy’ and replied in the affirmative. It was an otherwise simple moment that I’ll now always cherish. Having a hot dog with Gramps at the local footy.

I’ll miss Gramps this footy season but will rest easy in the knowledge that his love of the game lives on in his children and grandchildren. Despite that, I’m still not changing to the Cats.

About Ged McMahon

Ged McMahon has been a Bombers fan for as long as he can remember. With a Grandpa who grew up just a spiralling torpedo punt from Windy Hill he didn't have much choice. When his junior football career resulted in almost as many possessions as games he eventually had to bite the bullet and give up his dream of captaining the Bombers to a Premiership. So his weekly footy fix became confined to the stands. He yearns for the next Premiership.

Comments

  1. Ged

    Sweet read, lovely way to start the day and to kick off the season.

    Hopefully, the simple act of having a hot dog at the game will always bring back those memories.

    You are a lucky bloke to have had him. By the way, what was his view on the woes of Australian cricket, he having seen a few players in his time.

    Good on you for not moving to the Cats.

    Sean

  2. We don’t hear “father of 8” much anymore. Shame. Tribes of kids playing out on the streets helped keep them safe I reckon.

    He’ll be in heaven where all Geelong people go.

  3. Neil Anderson says:

    Loved your Grandpa story Ged. I did a story about a sixty-something Grandpa (me) talking to his grandson about all the changes over the years and why you barrack for a particular team etc. I realize now after reading your story I was only touching the edges, albeit your Grandpa had thirty years on me.
    The offer of having a ‘saveloy’ was a classic and even at my age that description has disappeared let alone for someone much younger.
    The determination to try and convert any non-cat supporters right to the end was so typical. He must he been rapt after the Cats broke that drought between 1963 and 2007.
    Your story is a typical one that the makes the Almanac so relevent for footy fans.

  4. Ged and Dips

    And the lucky thing is that in heaven, he won’t be bothered by anyone wanting to talk about Collingwood

    Sean

  5. DBalassone says:

    Lovely read Ged. 31 grandkids is hard to beat. By the sounds of it he had a great innings and alot of late joy with all those recent Cat premierships.

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