A history of football

A football career is a life.

It is it’s own world, it has its own language, which you learn. It tests every emotion, builds character and breaks the weak. It has a birth, adolesence, maturity and, if done right, if seen through, a decline.

In this decline you desperately try to pass your strength and learning onto the next generation.

Some people’s careers are cut short by injury, killing them in their prime. Others hobble on, clinging to life far longer than they should. Like in life, too many give up way before they should.

Mine started with my old man. A short, round, friendly little Hungarian. When he made it to Australia after the war, probably about 12 years old, he and his kid brother were thrown in an orphanage near Geelong. They were teaching him how to speak like a wog, so every Saturday he snuck out, hitched a train and learnt how to speak Australian standing in the outer at Richmond games. Things like:

“Ya white fucking peanut!” and

“Have a go, ya mug!” and

“What are you looking at wog?!”

Jesus, he loved the Tigers! He went every week. Yet, still polite and gentle, he never took me to a game until I asked. Then, you’d never seen a little wog smile so much.

He had a bung hip from the four years it took his Mum and siblings to make it through war-torn Europe to Australia. The stories of how he got it varied, but I couldn’t ever really kick with him. A loner, I grew up with no skills at all, other than to boot it straight up, mongrel-style, and mark it, when it came down, no matter what was in my way.

Not that it mattered in the long run. Not a damn.

The old man loved footy. I grew up loving footy. You can’t fake love. Not if your somebody’s dad. It’s genetics and something more. A kid wants what makes people feel so invincible and good.

Then you leave home, even if you still live at home, and find a club, and have your first kick.


  1. I’d love to hear more about your old man’s journey to Australia. Those stories of fleeing the oppression of crazed Nazis or Communist brutes, then grasping onto the culture in the new country with both hands, are fascinating.

    One minute he’s probably dodging bullets, the next he’s yelling the Tigers home to victory. What a story. What a country we live in.

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