2011 Grand Final: Anyone for Lacrosse?

“Oh. Is that all?” Helen wants some more to read.

Monday morning. October 3. Helen and I have been for a walk along the foreshore – Scarborough to Trigg Beach. Perth. Western Australia. Our bodies and minds are still operating on Victorian time so when you wake at six o’clock in the morning, you may as well make the best of it. On our return to the room, Helen goes back to the Sunday Times – the Western Australian newspaper she had picked up the day before but hadn’t had time to absorb. Too soon, from Helen’s perspective, she has read all that is to be found on the Geelong Collingwood Grand Final. As a Geelong supporter, she wants more. Me? I want none of it. I catch glimpses of headlines that tempt me not at all to read further.

This is the least engaged I have been in a Grand Final for some years. Especially one where my team has played. Saturday morning of the game we had joined our daughters and their team mates to come to Perth for the Under 15 lacrosse nationals. A slightly delayed flight and then stuffing around collecting hired mini-buses meant that we missed all the preliminaries, except, unfortunately, for the Meatloaf set via ABC radio. When the game began, I was still driving to the team accommodation. Then there was bag unpacking and trailer relocating and quarter time arrived before I had seen a second of the game on TV. Helen had still not arrived – as last vehicle in our mini flotilla, she had missed a set of lights, fallen off the convoy , got lost and travelled twenty kilometres further North than necessary.  When she eventually arrived, Helen couldn’t work out whether the knot in her guts was from the stressful trip or the tightness of the game.

If Collingwood had won the game, by the following Monday, under normal circumstances I would have replayed the game at least four times. I would be deciding that buying the blueray version  is worth the additional expense. Unlike Helen, who is waiting for a copy of Sunday’s Age to be brought to today’s lacrosse by Kelvyn, a Richmond supporter who attended the game before flying over on Sunday morning, I would have sought out and paid a premium for Melbourne papers. I would have drained all my phone internet access and somehow overcome all the obstacles that have prevented my accessing the Footy Almanac site since the preceding Friday.

Helen has also found it difficult. She wants to celebrate but understands my pain. Our oldest boy Bill, 17, back in Melbourne, took the late-offered opportunity to buy a ticket to the game. $250 of his own money – two or three weeks pay; and he has now experienced what far too many Collingwood supporters have experienced over many years. Herb, 14, also back in Melbourne, watched the game on TV with friends, but has suffered alone. On the phone on the Sunday after the game, the first time we had spoken, he asked how I was feeling. When I asked him the same question, his response was that every time he thought about the game, he got a bit sad. Of our girls who are here in Perth, Audrey is disheartened but has the distraction of the lacrosse tournament. Ursula celebrated by jumping in the resort pool in her Geelong jumper.

For the rest of the week I stay away from football. However, my mood is not helped every time I see my wife’s phone wallpaper, which is a recent picture of said wife and her boyfriend, J Bartel, before he had added to his pendant collection.

Monday 10 October. Back in Melbourne. I am welcomed back to the workdesk by a number of Geelong newspaper articles strewn over the otherwise uncluttered surface. My email inbox is full. Some of it is even work-related. There is a plethora of emails from Floreat Pica Society members. I file them for later reading. The previous evening, while waiting for our flights back to Melbourne I had read a couple of the Geelong-biased reports on the Almanac site. The first reports I had read of the game. While happy to highlight the given goal which shouldn’t have been, neither JTH nor PF mentioned the Pies’ mark that wasn’t paid that resulted in a tap out on the full with the umpire then allowing Bartel to transgress the laws of the game in order to kick a telling goal. The prerogative of the victors.

And the lacrosse? Glad you asked. One of the Victorian girls’ teams won. Not the team my girls were in, but they all celebrated as a squad. Audrey and Ursula performed well in their games. It was an excellent tournament – a celebration of a fine sport and a great way to avoid the depression of another Grand Final loss. However, it would have been better if it had run for at least a month. Or six.

About Andrew Fithall

Probably the most rational, level-headed Collingwood supporter in existence. Not a lot of competition mind you.


  1. John Butler says


    Tell me you didn’t have a premonition.

    Like I said, 15 out of 43 ain’t that bad. It’s almost a pass mark.


  2. Dear Andrew, I sat next to your lovely wife at the Almanac Lunch (GF) and so now I know how it works. It’s a pain, either way, when you barrack for a different team in a grand final…as my mother would say if we were fighting, it will end in tears. It’s harder to think that when you’re not looking, your wife is probably making big smiley faces and victory gestures behind you and then restrains herself out of love, when you turn around. At least you had last year. At least you have four great kids and other lives to distract you. Well written and I feel your pain


  3. Ursula is a very classy young lady.

  4. Hey Andrew, I’ve wondered about the Bartel goal each of the 6 times I’ve watched the replay. The MMM commentary is really enjoyable, but I digress.

    It would be play on if he comes off his line, and if out of bounds, I would have thought it should be a throw in. The interesting thing is he doesn’t actually come off his line, but he does start off it and runs to the “line” and then kicks it. I’m not sure why that’s allowed, but it seems to make a difference. I wonder if the umpires would allow it if it was after the siren?

  5. Come over to the Cats Andrew. Ursula can be your referee. She is obviously a very smart kid and sounds like she has impecable swimming pool fashion sense. You must be so proud of her.

    My son rang me up after the game and he and all his Cat friends gave a boisterous rendition of the Geelong song. It makes a father so proud.

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