I was going to make this a father-son conversation about footy in the olden days before I suddenly realised it was more appropriate as a grandfather-grandson conversation. It was more appropriate because I was jolted into thinking about events of sixty years ago and all the changes to VFL/AFL football since that time and how you would explain it to a young child of today.
I am not a grandfather thanks to my opera-singing, career-driven daughter which is why I’m in denial about aging, probably like most baby-boomers. However, if I did sit down with my grand-son to discuss all the mysteries of life I would be answering questions such as, “ Why do you barrack for the Bulldogs Gramps?” And… “ Why don’t you barrack for Geelong or Hawthorn because they win all the premierships?” Actually I’m showing my age again by using the word ‘barrack’. I think he would more likely say ‘ why do you go for the bulldogs?’ That’s the thing about writing plays…you have to constantly check yourself to use the right expressions for the time and for the age of the person speaking.
Anyway, our conversation would probably go something like this…
GRANDSON: Which team did you go for when you were little Grand-dad?
GRAND-DAD: It was called Footscray.
GS: What’s Footscray?
GD: That’s what they called the Western Bulldogs in the old days.
GS: Did they win lots of premierships?
GD: Only one.
GS: Why didn’t you go for another team?
GD: Because you never change teams no matter what happens. Nobody does.
GS: I go for the Swans now.
GD: Yeah. And before that you barracked for Geelong and when you were a toddler your
mother dressed you up in Brisbane Lions gear. You and your mum go for the team
winning the premierships. That’s why you change.
GS: Why didn’t you go for all the good teams?
GD: Because we barracked for our local team…where-ever we lived.
GS: I would’ve just picked Lions or Swans… or maybe the Cats.
GD: That wouldn’t work when I was a boy. Let me tell you why. Two of those teams didn’t
exist. There was no Brisbane Lions and no Sydney Swans. They used to be called
Fitzroy and South Melbourne.
GS: So…I would still go for them.
GD: No you wouldn’t. Because they never won any premierships back then. Even Geelong
only won one premiership when I was growing up.
GS: So why do all those people still go for them now?
GD: Because people are loyal and for Lions, Cats and Swan fans, they eventually got their
reward of a premiership. I think Swan fans had to wait for over seventy years.
GS: Well I’m not gonna wait that long! I wouldn’t be able to wear my Swan’s jumper!
GD: Yeah. That’s the best part when your team wins the premiership. I remember going to
my school in Footscray after we won the premiership and all the boys wore their
Bulldog jumpers! Most of them had the number three on their backs just like one of
our footy heroes.
GS: Are you going to get a new team Grand-dad? You would be really happy if your team
won the grand-final!
GD: Now you’ve reminded me how good I felt when the Bulldogs won the first Grand-final,
I think I’ll hang in there a bit longer for the second one. That’s when your Grand-dad
will be really happy!
Writing this dialogue between an oldie and a seven year old has reminded me how things have changed with our game. Particularly how young people decide who they are going to barrack for now there are no longer just the eleven suburban teams plus Geelong. I suppose you can’t blame kids latching on to current premiership winners. It would save a lot of angst like it does for those of us playing the waiting game. Then again, there’s nothing like a bit of deferred gratification before you reach the ultimate high.