I don’t remember going to too many games at Collingwood Footy Ground as a young kid with the the family, and I can’t even remember if it was called Victoria Park then, but I do remember being reminded not to go wandering off during the curtain raiser, which in those days was the under nineteens or what we called “the thirds.” I’m sure I wasn’t in any danger, but there was something about Collingwood and their ground back then.
We used to get to the footy early and set up our rugs along the boundary bench with the other Essendon faithful. It was like a regular reunion, there was talk of who was in the side this week and who was sure to be back in the team in the future and how we would go today. I do remember the footy ground was always packed by the time the game started. We shouted and cheered, offered “advice” to the umpire and depending on whether we won or lost, got back home elated or hard done by.
And it was with these sixty year old memories that I invited my son and daughter to Victoria Park for today’s VFL game. I have managed to persuade my daughter’s son to be a Don, he has all the necessary Essendon gear insidiously gifted to him by me to try and counteract my other two grand kids who have followed their father and joined the Magpie band wagon. I got to the ground early enough to listen the Coodabeens and watch a great curtain raiser between the Under 16 Kickstart and Ahmed Saad Squad, a really entertaining fast moving game, played in great spirit to celebrate the Indigenous round.
The Essendon and Collingwood teams were doing the warm-up routines as we spread the blanket on the boundary bench and the Thermos and snacks were put out just like all those years ago. The game started , in our group it was three for the Dons and three for the Magpies. A good crowd had wandered in to see the game, I reckon the supporters were about fifty/fifty. The new Victoria Park is a wonderful community space made all the better by the sunshine. And what a fast moving, high scoring game it was and what fun it was. A kick of the footy at quarter time, and half time, listening to the coaches and being really close to the action.
The Magpies got up by nine points in the end and we watched some of the stars of the future do their stuff. A really fun-filled family day, We reckon we will make it an annual event.