The return of football

By Adam Ritchie

 

The AFL pre-season competition is upon us and that means the return of glorious football.

 

Personally, this couldn’t have come at a better time. My withdrawal symptoms were becoming alarming and quite frankly dangerous. The other week I went for a kick in my backyard and pretended the ladder was Lance Franklin. Have you ever done a victory lap with a ladder? I have.

 

Despite the excitement, it’s important to keep in mind that what we are about to see isn’t really the return of the football we know and love. It’s more like a poor imitation. Like Celine Dion singing AC/DC, or Turkish Star Wars (yes, I have watched Turkish Star Wars. You do not want to watch Turkish Star Wars). Teams don’t really appear bothered if they win or lose, and getting through a match without injury seems more important than the scoreboard.

 

As a result, the competition is next to useless. The results definitely don’t matter.  The only purpose they serve is to give you future ammunition to aim at your Richmond supporting friend after he runs around the living room in ecstasy, proclaiming that the flag is “as good as theirs” after they win two games in a row. Just when you think he has settled down you realise it’s only quiet because he is upstairs booking accommodation in Melbourne for the last weekend in September.

 

Well, that isn’t the only purpose. There are plenty of aspects to look forward to, such as:

 

The signalling of football’s return and the subsequent removal of the Sherrin from your shed:

By the time the opening bounce of the NAB Cup takes place, it will have been over four months since a game last took place. No person should ever have to go four months without the thing they love. I’m not sure if that describes the absence of football or the tagline for the next Katherine Heigl romantic comedy.

 

A chance to watch your side’s new players:

Easily the most enjoyable part of the pre-season competition.  New players represent entities we football fans can invest all our hope into. This probably isn’t healthy. Basing your emotional state on the actions of an 18 year old fresh out of school doesn’t seem like a fantastic idea, yet plenty of fans around the country will be doing exactly that.

And can you really blame them? Come pre-season, rookies are like Christmas presents that have been sitting under your tree for two months. At this stage you’re just looking forward to the wrapping paper finally being removed.

 

Of course, you never know what the future holds for that present. Sometimes you get an awesome one. Sometimes it isn’t as good as it was made out to be. Sometimes you keep it for a few years before re-gifting it to another relative.

But no one is thinking about the potential negatives when your present is first unveiled. You’ve heard nothing but great things, and now you get to see it with your own two eyes.  There is nothing quite as exciting as seeing your new present in action and thinking ‘we’ve got a good one here.’

 

New roles, new position changes, new everything:

With no football being played during that mammoth offseason, fans are left to devise ways to pass the time. Nothing really fills the void football leaves.  There are only so many times you can watch Rahul Dravid spend the Australian summer devising new and inventive ways to get bowled. And it only takes five minutes of playing Monopoly with the family to realise just why it is you never play Monopoly with the family. Or anyone.

 

So eventually the football fan’s mind begins to ponder what lies ahead. Who will replace the departed fullback? Which young players are ready to take the next step? What strategies will the new coach implement? Which players will be changing positions? How long until Nathan Buckley is scrutinised incessantly while Mick Malthouse gives vague answers to the question ‘Do you want to return to coaching’?

 

The pre-season competition is when answers to these questions begin to materialise, providing us with a glimpse of what we will see in throughout the rest of the year.

 

A chance to complain about all the inane rules trialled throughout the competition:

Another friendly reminder you’re not yet watching football. It seems every year the rules committee trials a new rule designed to fix a non-existent problem in our great game.

(Okay, it’s not all bad. The rushed behind rule is good. Anyone who thinks otherwise hasn’t imagined the last 2 minutes of a Grand Final being spent repeatedly rushing behinds Joel Bowden style. Now let’s just work on making sure the umpires and players understand it.)

 

Last year’s pearler was the ‘last team who touched the ball before it goes out of bounds gives away a free kick’ rule. It was so bad the AFL canned it about four minutes into the first match.

 

A chance to be like that aforementioned Richmond fan:

Face it, you’re going to get a little excited if your team looks good. Team plays bad? Only pre-season, let’s keep it in perspective. Team plays well?  Stuff perspective! Where do I get Grand Final tickets from?

 

So despite all the terrible rules, the average football on display and overall pointlessness of the games themselves, it’s still the return of football.  So I’m going to grab a drink, sit on my couch, and what every single second of this utterly pointless competition.  I’m going to get a little too excited about anybody from my team who plays well. I’m going to have numerous conversations with my friends about how interesting it was that ‘player X’ was playing in ‘position Y’. I’m probably going to kick my ball to Lance Ladder Franklin for a few hours too. But most of all, I’m going to enjoy the fact that football, in some form, is finally back.

About Adam Ritchie

My name is Adam. I started watching football with two fellow parapsychologists in an abandoned firehouse. When we’re not watching footy, we’re running our own pest control business. What do you mean I stole that from Ghostbusters?

Comments

  1. John Butler says:

    Adam, metal or wooden ladder?

  2. Andrew Fithall says:

    It’s back. And we have a new tune to sing along to. One for the traditionalist.

    http://www.gwsgiants.com.au/theres-a-big-big-sound-from-the-west-of-the-town.html

  3. The GWS theme son has something of a Russian/Eastern European feel to it…. and too many lyrics – ‘Greater Western Sydney’ does not have a cadence that lends itself to song.

    My solution is to keep the Eastern European feel, but cut back on the lyrics. Something like this…

  4. Michael Parker says:

    Yes footy is back, kind of. Your right any footy is good footy at this stage and there are always a few good nuggets to take out of the pre season comp. Lenny Hayes and Grant Thomas accepting the trophy was a definite highlight for me. They actually looked like they were listening to Ms Dion covering ACDC

  5. Actually Adam, I WOULD like to see Turkish Star Wars, just to see what it’s like!

  6. Heard an interview this morning on SEN with the guy from the Cat Empire who wrote the Giants song. Was interesting but I can’t imagine Gen-Y blokes getting fired up about lyrics like “quaking in their boots.”

  7. Skip of Skipton says:

    Litza,

    Great idea. Maybe GWS could use Bob Downe if Mr.Tra-la-la is unavailable.

  8. Cat Empire… that explains everything. They have no business writing a football anthem.

    Christ! Who does Mike Brady need to root to get a gig these days?

  9. @John: Metal ladder. Is it weird that following your question I spent about ten minutes considering which of the two would be the more fitting answer?

    @Gigs: Don’t say I didn’t warn you. It’s certainly an experience, I’ll give it that.

  10. John Butler says:

    :)

  11. You’re not a true footy fan if you don’t go through the feelings you perfectly wrote about Adam.

  12. Tiges may not have got the two wins in a row, but the one they had surely must have their supporters thinking top 4 this year.

    Am having lunch with one tomorrow and very much looking forward to hearing the ROAR!!

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