Love and other couch matters

MEETING my family was the easy part.

It was revealing my inner football demon to my Brisbane-based girlfriend that I was afraid of.

Months earlier she had fallen for my charming Dr Jekyll as we perused the Louvre together.

Now, on a weekend visit to Geelong, she was about to see my remote control-throwing Mr Hyde.

“Are we going out for dinner tonight?” she’d asked hopefully, knowing it could be some time before we saw each other again.

“Well…the Cats are playing the Dockers in Perth. It’s round one,” I’d replied, cleverly not saying ‘no’, leaving the non-decision to her.

Not being a football fan of any code, she reluctantly caved to my not so subtle nudge, and we settled for pizza on the couch. Romance isn’t dead.

The Queenslander started well, which was more than I could say for the Cats.

As she asked questions ranging from how many people were on the field to why the boundary umpires threw it over their heads, the Dockers piled on five goals to none.

In the absence of one big-O (Ottens), replaced by another (Orren), Aaron Sandilands was reminding Cats fans of how important Otto had been.

Geelong looked as muddled as my explanations of the game sounded. We were losing the game and I was losing the girl’s interest in it. Things weren’t going well.

To make things worse, the unswattable mosquito Hayden Ballantyne was being a pain. Chapman was on all fours and vomiting and Stevie J was getting touchy. It had Ballantyne written all over it. The pest.

Suddenly, like clockwork, the Geelong cogs clicked into gear. Kel, Jimmy and new captain Selwood started doing what they do best, extricating the ball and the finger.

By half-time, the reigning premiers had clawed their way back and were a point up. The girl had wrapped herself in a Cats scarf and was screaming ‘go Jimmy’ at the TV. Not really. She was reading a book. And it wasn’t even an Almanac. I’d lost her.

As a last resort I made a quick half-time trip to get red wine. If she couldn’t handle the footy sober, I might as well get her drunk.

It turned out I needed the wine more than she did. Discipline was lacking and the normally cool Cats were heating up.

In a moment of perfectly torn emotions, Matty Scarlett finally scratched the itch. With a quick left hook, Ballantyne went down. It was satisfying. Until he got up and kicked a goal. What a pest.

In a last quarter full of ups and downs, it was Ballantyne that again proved to be the instigator of a few quick jabs. As he kicked a goal to put the Dockers up late in the term, my couch cushions copped a flurry of punches that Ali himself would be proud of. All because of the pest.

Following a freakish Pavlich soccer goal, the girl, who had left the room just before TV ringside, returned.

“It’s over,” I said.

“They might come back, you never know,” she replied. I assured her I knew more about the game.

I almost ate my words. With about a minute left, Bartel goaled from straight in front and it was back to four points. The Brisbane beauty might be on to something.

A flurry of kicks later, and Enright marked near half forward. We were a chance. But the umpire blew the whistle. Lonergan had been caught holding and the purple haze was free to celebrate a pesky, but well-deserved win.

The girl had decided to go to bed, mainly out of boredom. I half expected to find Ballantyne trying to get in with her. The guy’s a pest.



3. Fyfe

2. Sandilands

1. Selwood

About Kyle Pollard

Geelong Cats. Green Bay Packers. Heartbreak. Never been a sports reporter but somehow ended up on the sports desk at a metro newspaper. Weekends be damned.

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