A strange scene


by Steve Merry

It is a strange scene. Thirteen thousand fans have rated this event worthy of their attendance. Worthy of donning their team’s colours. Worthy of coordinating plans with friends or family. But to show that one might actually care about the result tonight is another matter. Only a brave few seem prepared to do that, drawing looks of scorn, or perhaps pity, from those around them.

It is the pre-season, after all, and there is nothing to play for. Collingwood, in particular, is still coming down from the lofty heights of last year’s Grand Final, an occasion compared to which tonight’s match barely rates a mention.

Melbourne, whilst sporting a new coach and a new game plan, also must temper itself; too many teams have exhausted their newfound enthusiasm on pre-season prizes.

Still, in virtue of the two teams’ respective recent histories, it is the Melbourne fans that seem to be most at risk. Any visible excitement tonight will simply serve to remind their Collingwood supporting peers that these have been barren times.

For their Magpie-supporting counterparts, risk is nevertheless also present; to express any joy at minor triumphs over this foe is to show how far standards might have slipped in a mere six months.

The question, then, is this: why are we here? What does it matter? And why are people bothering to cheer that mark if it will be forgotten almost before feet and turf have reunited?

In this strange scene, it is Melbourne that is hungrier. It is Melbourne that seems better able to focus on the moment and ignore the absurdity of it all, applying basic football skills rather than philosophising on the place of this game in the scheme of the season and the cosmos. It is Melbourne that is prepared to risk injury, to risk bruises, rather than save such unpleasant things for occasions that might better warrant them. And thus it is Melbourne that prevails.

As fans file out, nothing has really been gained or lost. People pause briefly to reflect on how else they might have spent their Saturday night. There is a feeling that this game might not even have happened – a vague sense, only proven false by the fact that we are all here, at a football ground, with the sound of a siren still ringing in our ears. In an hour’s time, even that will be gone.




  1. tony robb says

    Hi Steve
    I think the reason for the apparant madness come down to dreams of success, Potential. Is there kid that may be the next Robbie Flower etc. Eveyone dreams and hopes their team can win a flag at the start of the year dispensing with reality until it belts them ove the head by about round 4 that their team is just as shite as last year. It would be depressing if we didnt have those hopes and dreams

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