Just me and footy

The house is quiet. I’m on the couch, wearing headphones and watching footy. The game has already been played but I recorded it. I’ve avoided the news, phone calls and text messages, so I can watch the game like it is live.

Angus is asleep, Kristine too. There are no distractions. The television is finally mine. The game was hyped, but many are. I’ve waited hours to watch. It better be good.

It is just me and footy, and it takes me back to Melbourne, when I was a kid and every game was played on Saturday, starting at 2pm.

We had a stereo in the family room but my mum, Patsy didn’t always want to listen to football. She preferred Marty Robbins. There was a radio in my bedroom but listening to the footy there was boring. I spent enough time in my bedroom. It also meant I was easy to find, if Patsy needed a body for a chore.

I used to rug up and go out to the garage, listening to the footy on Bill’s old radio, a single speaker antique with a huge tuning dial. I’d turn the dial in hope of finding North Melbourne’s game. If I couldn’t find that I’d tune in to the match of the round.

Back then there were regular live crosses, around the grounds, providing live scores and analysis, keeping me up to date with every game.

Occasionally our cat, Mehitabel, would seek refuge from Melbourne’s winter and curl up in a box of timber joiners. I’d pat her to sleep.

My dad, Bill, had a working garage filled with tools and a couple of cars. Alone, I’d fondle the tools, without plugging them in of course. I could bang the bench with a hammer whenever North conceded a goal.

Above the bench, an old railway clock ticked down the game. I listened to legends, Jack Dyer and Ian Major, Harry Beitzel and Tommy Lahif, Bill Jacobs and Tim Lane, Peter Booth and Ron Barassi.

The garage was my football refuge. I had it to myself. No one bothered me.

On sheets of large computer paper I wrote the quarter-by-quarter scores, presenting them to Bill at the end of the game.

In the eighties I moved to Queensland. I was still silly for football, watching each game live on Saturday and Sunday, sedentary for three hours in the afternoon, not getting anything done, consuming as much football as possible.

By 2000, I was living alone. Fences needed to be built, the vegetable garden needed planting, lawns had to be mown and beer needed bottling. My football habit had to change. I stopped watching footy during the day and listened to it instead.

While working the vegetable patch, I plugged the radio into an extension lead. It went everywhere I did in the yard.

I also started recording the big games and avoided the news and friendly correspondence, watching the match long after it was over.

Unfortunately, the game was often spoilt by someone sending an inadvertent text. Nowadays most of my mates know not to send a football related text until I give them the all clear.

I begin phone conversations with a plea; I don’t know the footy score so don’t tell me.

Footy is a communal entity. Mates want to talk footy, before, during and after games. It is always hard telling them I can’t talk footy.

Kristine loves reality TV. I do too, but my reality TV is football, cricket and boxing. I don’t watch any other reality entity, no cooking, building, music, social or model shows. I couldn’t care less.

Reality is all about sport.

Given Kristine’s propensity for reality, I record Friday and Saturday night games so she can get her fix. It’s usually about nine when I annex the television and start to watch the game.

When Kristine goes to bed, I am alone in the lounge with a beer and the game. With the headphones on, I am cocooned in football.

Footy often can’t be watched passively. I try to be quiet, but exclamations at brilliance and incompetence occasionally wake Kristine up. I’ve often found myself on my feet in the lounge, mouth open in silent exultation, fists pumping. Close games, when the team I supported has lost, elicit groans of agony.

Being quiet while watching footy is virtually impossible. Noise, while watching footy, is natural. A man could explode, otherwise.

I love footy. It doesn’t matter how I get it, radio or TV, delayed or live. On the weekend, footy is a constant companion. My day is planned around the radio broadcasts. The stereo upstairs and radios downstairs and in the garage are all tuned in. Occasionally I will use the Ipod.

Wherever I go, I am in tune. Being busy is enjoyable with footy as a companion.

At night, with everyone asleep, there is no better time to be alone.

It’s just me and footy. I can sit and watch it for hours…

About Matt Watson

My name is Matt Watson, avid AFL, cricket and boxing fan. Since 2005 I’ve been employed as a journalist, but I’ve been writing about sport for more than a decade. In that time I’ve interviewed legends of sport and the unsung heroes who so often don’t command the headlines. The Ramble, as you will find among the pages of this website, is an exhaustive, unbiased, non-commercial analysis of sport and life. I believe there is always more to the story. If you love sport like I do, you will love the Ramble…

Comments

  1. Bob Ely says:

    Nice article Matt. As a Cat fan living in NZ with a young family I can relate to the pleasure of sitting down in front of the tele after everyone else has gone to bed and immersing myself in my lifelong obsession. I find streaming the footy from the internet via TV while having a tablet with a radio feed and live scores nearby works well. However, on Saturday night when Jordan Murdoch kicked the sealer against the Hawks I leapt off the couch with my fists in the air and in doing so shattered a light fitting and ended up showered in glass! Needless to say, the previously slumbering household was rudely awakened! Luckily my wife saw the funny side of it…eventually!

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