AFL Round 3 – Geelong v Carlton: The tradition continues

For those who know me, my life is filled with traditions, I spend most of my life looking forward…but with an eye firmly on the past continuing to honour and follow the traditions of old.

So when my Cats played the Blues last week, the traditions continued.

You see, I come from a broken home. ..

My parents broke it…when they decided that they would each support a different football team.

My father migrated here from Cyprus in 1951 and (thanks to the similarities to the Greek Flag), selected Geelong as his team of choice.

My mother on the other hand, due to the fact that her father owned pubs all throughout the City and Carlton, was a true Blue supporter.

So, I had a choice…I chose Geelong and it only cost my father the princely sum of 20cents in blood money.

My sister Penny, well, she went with my Mother and picked the Blues. My brother Paul, he also picked the Blues but he doesn’t really like the footy. I’m not sure why.

So when a passionate football family is divided, there needs to be some rules. Ours are simple:-

  1. Carlton or Geelong MUST be your second team on all occasions.
  2. If the Cats and Blues are playing, there is to be NO DISCUSSION  about the game in the week leading up
  3. After said game, NEVER will the game ever be discussed between the family…EVER.
  4. NEVER will you attend Cats v Blues games together or ever watch a game together.
  5. NEVER will the 1995 Grand Final ever be discussed…EVER

The closest we ever got to breaking those rules was in 2006 when Peter Riccardi kicked the winner after the siren against the Blues at (what was then) Telstra Dome. I was sitting with my father and nephew Zach (his favourite player was Ben Graham) at the Lockett end while my sister was sitting with her god-daughter Georgia at the Coventry end. We still never talk about it!

So, last week my sister asks if I was going to the game. I usually go with my “gang” daughter Anna, cousin James and his partner Maz and their daughter Tarsh. Being a Greek family, we are all very close.

Penny said she wanted to go and would sit on her own but I thought, after almost 50 years, let’s break tradition. I’m sure we can handle the game sitting together…for the first time ever!

So there we were at Etihad, sitting in Aisle 15 behind the Cats bench, 5 rows from the front on a Saturday night. The 6 of us. Penny was at one end – away from James who was at the other end in his traditional seat on the aisle – I had to keep them separated as James has at times been known to get a little “frustrated” if things aren’t going to plan.

Breaking tradition, I sat next to my sister and was feeling quite uncomfortable. This was a new experience. I wasn’t sure what to expect.

We were hoping the roof would be closed but after last week, we weren’t sure what ground management had in store for us tonight!

And to make things even more difficult, my sister had left her glasses at home and couldn’t see much past the fence 5 rows in front of us! “It’s OK”, she said, as she plugged in her headphones, “Triple M will give me an unbiased call of the game”. (It wasn’t really OK, she had no idea of who any player was all night)

The Blues were the first on to the ground and the Cats banner paid special tribute to one of the all-time great football stories – Tom Lonergan.

“Didn’t he die” asked my sister? “He did but he was reincarnated as a backman” I replied.

The game was a blur of colours, lush green grass, royal blue, navy blue, yellow ball and fluoro coloured officials.

This was a game of tempo football.  Carlton kicked away to a handy lead, the Cats surged back, the Blues surged again, and the Cats came back.

At three quarter time, the Cats held a handy 5 goal lead and looked in control. I wasn’t so sure as I remembered the Riccardi game from 2006 when the Blues came from the clouds and almost pinched it!

All throughout, the discussion about the game was civil and professional. No one got too excited, no one yelled and no one got angry. We discussed match ups and analysed the game together. “How does Bartel get so loose all the time?”, ”Judd has still got it”, “Taylor Hunt is hurting us going the other way”, “Why don’t we man up on Walker”. Very civil indeed. My mother would have been so proud.

My daughter Anna was struggling with her emotions. She wasn’t sure whether she was “allowed” to cheer or wave her flag because it might upset her Aunty, so she just cheered silently, giving herself little fist pumps, talked to me about our clearances and quietly high-fiving me after every goal.

There was one incident when the Cats supporters in front of us kept standing up during exciting pieces of pay, so we missed a few key moments. I asked them to “sit down in front” but was met with a cold response and some sarcastic remarks. They taunted me by standing up deliberately a few more times but they soon tired and they settled for the rest of the game.

At the final break, I said to my sister, “It’s not enough. A couple of quick ones to the Blues and they will get a sniff”. She wasn’t so sure, “Who is going to kick our goals?”.

We also talked about Black Caviar’s earlier  this afternoon and whether she had given us more joy than the great Makybe Diva when she went “back to back to back” in 2003/4/5 winning 3 Melbourne Cups.

I think Makybe Diva was like Brisbane of the early 2000’s, priming herself for one great performance each year, while the Cats were like Black Caviar, sustained brilliance over a long period of time.

I was right, the Blues came back, the Cats looked tired but the gap was too much to bridge.

The Cats took the points in what has become somewhat of a tradition; they haven’t lost to the Blues at Etihad ever.  But the Blues were pretty good. Maybe they are coming after all.

As is tradition, Anna and Tarsh rushed to the fence to see if one of the Cats players would give them an autographed football. And this time, after 6 years of disappointment, Anna was chosen by Stephen Motlop and she got her long awaited prized football.

Motlop may just have earned his way on to the back of Anna’s footy jumper replacing favourite Mitch Duncan.  Well, maybe for just one week.

We drove home the same way as we drove in – in silence.

As is tradition…

Be humble in victory, respect the defeated.

Never gloat; never taunt…you may be on the receiving end next time!

About Nic Pavlou

A lover of all things beautiful in the world...a Matthew Scarlett defensive run, a Darren Millburn floating mark, an Andrew Mackie long bomb goal and anything Stevie J conjures up!


  1. Jill Scanlon says

    NIce family footy story Nic. Can understand the sentiments as I have a family of Blues and Tigers supporters (evenly divided) with a Cats tone running through the extended family!! Much discussion often!

  2. Great story Nic. Funny bits and sentimental at the same time. But make no mistake, it IS war (be it silently) whenever we play Carlton.

  3. Nike - Blues -Forever Pavlou says

    Don’t blame me, it was your father’s fault, and anyhow, Blues have still won more flags than any other team – you might have to wait another 43 for that to happen to Geelong Cats. (Well written by the way. )

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