MikeD spends an afternoon with his Greek father-in-law - and a elemental point is established (from first principles).

AFL Round 21 – Port v Gold Coast (but actually timeless): Getting Sport

My father-in-law doesn’t get sport. He was born in about 1930 (exact date not recorded) on the Peloponnese Peninsula in southern Greece. He came to Australia in the 1960’s with a wife and baby daughter not knowing the language and knowing very little about Australia. Forty odd years later, he hasn’t picked up much about sport, this is surprising given he has grasped just about everything else about his adopted country.

Our sporting moment;
We have been resurrecting a falling down blockie’s shed together. It needs lots of love and attention and chess like moves to keep it upright while we replace various important bits of the support structure. The Port v Gold Coast Garry’s game was on the radio as we chipped away last weekend. My thoughts ranged from visualising Brad Ebert’s kicks into the forward 50, to keeping framing timbers straight and correct angles for joints.

My father-in-law noticed my agitation as the Power slipped behind in the third quarter. I measured two and three times before cutting, forgetting figures after each measure. He said to me “What’s wrong, don’t we have enough wood? I have plenty more stacked behind the other shed”, “No” I replied “The footy”. This started an oft repeated non-verbal reply from him, which consisted of a tilted head, one raised eyebrow and a slight shoulder shrug.  (I shall refer to this as an NVR from this point on. It can be translated as “What? Surely you speak nonsense dear boy!”). I continued to explain to him I was listening to the footy on the radio. I got the same NVR.

In the fourth quarter Port kicked another goal to take the lead, they are on a roll, I responded with a “Yes!”, NVR. Port kicked another to extend their lead, I responded this time with a “Go you Power!”…..NVR followed up with a verbal “Footy?”
“Yep, the Power are back!”
“Big business sports, big money for the corporations”
“Don’t know about” that I said, “the lads have done well to get back in the game”….. NVR.

I gave a sotto voce “Yes!” when the final siren sounded…..NVR.  I sang the song along with the team and at the end I gave it a final “Power!” with a raised fist. He took a step back before a big NVR with rounded eyes. Then, in a quiet voice he asked, “Did you have a bet on the sports?”
“But it still makes you happy?”
“This is a good thing”
No NVR this time, just a smile.

Not long after the kids walked past after having tormented the various animals around the farm. “The Power won kids”
“Yaaaaaay, when do we play Carlton?”
“In two weeks”
He stared at my kids, his grand-kids and then stared at me. Not another word was spoken as he strolled off to and cut some juicy leaves from the Olive trees to keep the goats busy while he milked them.

“I’ve gotta tell someone about this” I thought, “I reckon he might be starting to get sport”.


  1. Great stuff Mike. I doubt your father-inlaw will ever get footy; but he certainly gets life. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks Peter,
    He is an interesting man. One of a rapidly declining number of folk who have clear recollections of events during WWII. I might have to quiz him and get writing. :-)

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