Mixed marriages can be problematic. Not religious mixes – football. Helen is a Geelong supporter and I am Collingwood. We have four children: two boys and two girls. A numerically well-balanced family. We would like our children to explore various religions and eventually make their own decisions about their beliefs. But football is too important to leave to chance. Therefore early in their lives, the children were allocated to their respective teams. It seemed appropriate. Boys to Collingwood and girls to Geelong. Family balance maintained.
I don’t know how it happened. I certainly didn’t undermine my wife’s authority, and I don’t think older brother Bill applied any undue influence, but around 2002/2003 (vulnerable years – just starting school – one team doing well and the other foundering) Audrey switched. This left her sister Ursula as the sole back-up supporter for her mother. Helen was okay about it all. She certainly took it better that I would have if one of the boys had made a similar decision. I suppose we were all just grateful that she hadn’t left the fold entirely and done something that would have most likely resulted in familial ex-communication, like barrack for Carlton.
We all like going to the football. As MCG regulars we see more of Collingwood than Geelong. Every effort is made to get to the (rarely bi-annual) Collingwood-Geelong matches. Round Three. Holy Thursday night. Holy week. Holy heck. Conflict of interest. Rationalisation. The children all go to Catholic schools. They have spent the last forty days and nights considering the implications and importance of the forthcoming weekend. An evening of respite is surely admissible. Instead of a quick wash of the feet, an early dinner with a few friends (and one ex-friend) and off to the Mount of Olives for a nap in the garden, we were off to that other place of veneration – the MCG. Joined by our friend Shaun and his two children, all Geelong supporters, we took up our positions in the second and third rows on the forward flank.
Collingwood started well. Josh Fraser and co were winning the centre clearances and the forwards were taking advantage. But not enough advantage. Five goals for the quarter could normally be taken as a reasonable return, but five goals five could easily have been seven goals three. A twenty point margin should have been more. A late miss by Tarkyn Lockyer kicking with the outside of his right foot was fortunately matched by a late miss by Stokes from a set shot. Collingwood went into the break marginally pleased, but mildly disappointed.
The disappointment grew significantly in the second quarter. Five goals may be a reasonable return for a quarter, but is a very poor return for a half. Collingwood added no majors, while Geelong kicked eight, turning the twenty point deficit into a twenty-seven point lead. While Josh Fraser continued his statistical dominance in the ruck, the Geelong midfield came into the game. Jimmy Bartel gathered numerous possessions, while Chapman began to build what eventuated into a best-on-ground performance. Before one Josh Fraser set shot for goal, Shaun asked me what he was like. Shaun had already put the moz on Stokes in the previous quarter. Unfortunately I repaid the favour. “Good kick”, I said. However, my moz was longer lasting, enduring until well into the last quarter. It was also infectious, bringing down Lockyer, Cloke and others over remainder of the match.
Collingwood won the third quarter, bringing the margin back to fourteen points. However, again it should have been better with a Fraser kick after the siren not doing the necessary damage. Geelong also had some unrealised chances over the period, kicking one goal five.
Geelong did the damage early in the last quarter. Johnson kicked off the ground when under the hammer from Nick Maxwell. Shannon Byrnes got the next and when Mooney scored the next, the game, from Collingwood’s point of view, was gone. Over the quarter, Geelong kicked seven goals three to Collingwood’s five goals two. The final margin was the same as at the half – twenty-seven points.
Helen and Ursula and Shaun and his kids got to sing the song. We Collingwood supporters just have the pain of the loss. I hate a loss on a Friday night – it ruins a whole weekend. A loss on Holy Thursday with the next four days to ponder what might have been is twice as bad. Having family members smugly enjoying your pain. Worse again.
Geelong 2.3 10.6 11.11 18.14 (122)
Collingwood 5.5 5.9 8.15 13.17 (95)Chapman 4, Johnson 3, Hawkins 2, Stokes 2, Varcoe 2, Ablett, Byrnes, Mooney, Rooke, Wojcinski
Collingwood: Medhurst 3, Anthony, Beams, Brown, Cox, Davis, Dick, Didak, Fraser, Lockyer, Thomas
3 – Paul Chapman
2 – Gary Ablett
1 – Stephen Johnson