I know the feeling, the Blues have arrived

It is a beautiful feeling. A feeling that we believe will never arrive. Many fans have yet to feel it. But whilst it is such a rare personal occurrence, it happens to at least one group of supporters most seasons. It’s that rush of the heart, a sudden realisation, such a fast realisation that it sneaks up upon us before we can fully appreciate it. It’s the realisation of knowing after years of toil, low-ladder finishes, near misses, heartbreaks, season ending injuries, that major on field success, whilst still no guarantee, is just fractions from your reach.

As a Collingwood supporter, with black and white coursing through my veins, I first felt this rush late in 2010. Whilst the Magpies had performed strongly in the finals ever since that bittersweet five point preliminary final loss to eventual premiers Geelong in 2007 it wasn’t until walking out of the ‘G on a warm Saturday, the 17 of July that I genuinely felt we could win the elusive premiership.

Memories of this day have a special spot in my mind. As I walked with my sister to the MCG from Flinders Street, I told her that we were going to win and win well. But she was having nothing of it. It was after all the Saints we were playing, previous year’s runners up and eventual sparring partners with the Pies in the Grand Finals of that year. Furthermore, Riewoldt who had returned the previous week was ready to fire in their forward line. I however remained quietly optimistic about a Collingwood win, despite criticism at the time of the Pies not being able to defeat the top four sides like Geelong and the Saints.

The wind began to get blustery as I sat tucked on the top level behind the goals in the Ponsford Stand. With inaccuracy being somewhat of a trademark for the Pies in that grand 2010 season, it was no surprise they kicked 4 goals and 4 behinds in the first quarter. These results however only lead to the increasing optimism that was gripping at my heart-strings and my mind was stirring with possibilities. An eighteen point lead increased by eight by half time but ever slightly pessimistic, my sister couldn’t quite force herself to join in with the joy that was making my facial expressions go in all sorts of odd directions. But by three quarter time with the game all but over with the Pies on 73 points to a well-contained St Kilda on 35, every goal was met by my sister and myself with a mad rush of exhilaration and hysterical jumping that quaked the very foundations of the stadium and an ever increasing amount of joyful screaming.

By the time the siren sounded and a 48 point victory was achieved by the Black and White, the theme song was sung loud and proud around the stadium. Many of the 81,000 crowd stayed back in unison for much longer than they would for any other minor game. The Magpie Army knew this was no minor game; this game was for more than the four points. It was about making a statement and hence creating a realisation amongst the players and fans alike. We can seriously win the Flag.

As the fans looked up at the scoreboard, a collective roar was heard exceeding even those following Magpie goals. We had reached the top of the AFL ladder and my life as a Collingwood fan flashed before my eyes. First it was the tears and heartbreak of ’02, the humiliation of 2003, the injuries and pain of a lonely 2004 and 2005. Then there was light at the end of the tunnel in 2006, a magical finals series in 2007, expectations and defeat in 2008 and 2009, but finally I was there standing in mystified and thin air, a top a huge mountain. I could sense that as an Army, the Magpie fans were feeling the exact same way, albeit with different journeys undertaken.

As we left the stadium and headed our separate ways, to our separate lives, we also left as a collective, fully knowing that whilst there were still games to be played we had reached an elusive and precious area. The statement that good things come to those who wait had never rung more true. The sun which was falling in the east was now brighter, there was no notion of time, and no one was in any hurry. The train ride home was better, sleep was easy and relaxing and work suddenly became bearable as no one could take shots at our team. Whilst this win came with a heavy weight of nervousness and expectation, it was such an electrifying feeling.

I find it ironic now that the inspiration for this piece came from a rather humiliating Collingwood loss at the weekend. I sat beside my father and my sister, urging on the mighty Pies to somehow, despite fairly average form, get across the line against the hated Blues. Of course, this was an expectation, the Blues’ moment had not arrived….surely. Each of Carlton’s seven first quarter goals, scored mostly by Carlton weapons of speed up forward (Garlett and Betts), pierced my very heart. Across from my father, sat my mother, a loving and loyal Carlton supporter (I don’t know how my parents do it – just joking). The smile on her face was something to behold, it almost brought a tear to my eye, before I quickly was reminded of the Pies’ predicament. She was so incredibly ecstatic and even days after the match she continues to tell me how much she loved that game. Each Carlton goal brought a louder and more collective roar from the hugely pro-Carlton crowd. As a Pies supporter, it was humiliating, as a fan of sport it was, dare I say it, just like that day in 2010 – electrifying. The Blues played attractive and fast football. Premiership winning football. I know the feeling; all who have been lucky to follow a team on the road to serious success know the feeling, just knowing you have finally made it, you may really win that mystic game on the last day of September.

When the siren roared to finally end Collingwood’s large beating, Carlton fans rejoiced, jumping around and screaming that slow, arrogant (but rather good) theme song. Their time in the sun has truly come and what a long time coming it had been since the pain and shame that was most of last decade for the Blues. I sat there desolate in my seat, but whilst I wanted to be angry I couldn’t help but feeling happy for the Carlton fans, they had earned it, much like us Magpie fans had earned it in 2010. I also couldn’t help but wonder if those fans of the Navy Blue were having their life as a fan flash before their eyes too.

Comments

  1. haiku bob says:

    i remember that day well.
    17 july 2010.
    my birthday
    my last game before leaving melbourne for stockholm.
    are you sure you know
    what you’re doing?
    i thought.

    hb.

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