AFL Round 3 – North Melbourne v Port Adelaide: I deserved a win

Ever felt like you were owed a win?  I experience that sense of entitlement on occasion and not because of my annual membership, the raffle tickets I buy or the emotion I invest.  It’s what happens outside of football that fuels my victory rights.


If I’ve had a bad week, the lust for victory is stronger.  Winning cures a lot of ills.  If I have done something nice for someone, maybe donated money or given blood, it is natural to believe one good deed requires another.


I’ve been good.  North Melbourne must win, because I deserve it.


This sense of entitlement highlights the selfishness of the supporter, I want, I want, I want.


In 1997, I took my father, Bill, to see When We Were Kings, a documentary about the Rumble in the Jungle.  As Mohammed Ali’s fight with George Foreman played out on the big screen, North was playing the Western Bulldogs at the MCG.


I figured my effort and generosity had earned me victory.


When Bill and I exited the cinema, North was 41-points down at three quarter time.  They lost.  I felt horribly ripped off.  The reptilian portion of my brain wondered why I’d bothered being so nice.


On a Friday night in April, 2005, I found a neighbour’s dog on the street and took him back home.  The dog growled the journey, then barked madly as I closed the gate.  That meant I deserved a win.  Later that night, North delivered, a three-point margin over Collingwood.


I know North Melbourne doesn’t win because I have been good.  They’re not Santa.


No matter how well we behave outside of footy, we don’t deserve anything.  North didn’t care I took my father to see a film.  They don’t care about the purse I handed in fifteen years ago or the foot massages I give to Kristine.


It doesn’t stop my demand, if I am good, so must be they.


The last two weekends have fuelled my desire for privileges.  In preparation for a family gathering, things needed doing.  It became two weekends of work.  Bill and I assembled a trampoline in the rain.  I filled the trailer with rubbish.  Seeds were planted in the vegetable patch.  I super chlorinated the pool.


Lawns needed mowing, the edges done.  The pool fence needed finishing.  Outdoor furniture had to be moved, along with dozens of toys my boy leaves discarded in the backyard.  I went to the tip with 200kg of rubbish.


The day of the gathering, a chicken run needed to be installed.


All this work took place in the rain or in Brisbane’s autumn heat so the house would look nice for Angus’ birthday party.  He had turned two.


I kept my thoughts about North private, you better win for me you bastards.  They did it hard against the Bulldogs.  The manner of the win kept satisfaction to a minimum.


At the weekend, I gave a mate a complete home brew kit, save for a few seals.  I wrote a lengthy email on how to brew beer.  At my house, another mate learned how to brew.  He’ll be back next week to bottle his first batch.


On Sunday, the party went well.  In the afternoon, at the urging of Bill and my brother in law Danny, I fixed my eighteen year old Commodore.


They weren’t there when the repairs were made, but they offered advice.


‘It’s two bolts,’ Danny said about the coil contact.  ‘Take the old one off and put the new one on.’


‘It is four hoses,’ Bill said about the heater valve.  ‘Take the old one off and put the new one on.’


I frowned at them and the car.  ‘If I have any problems I’ll call you.’


Kristine’s father, Jim, held the torch while I replaced the coil contact and the valve.  The Commodore loves life again.  I drove it Sunday afternoon.


When the party was over, I put on the earphones and listened to the footy, North v Port Adelaide.  I was smug about working hard for two weekends.  I’d been good.  I deserved a win.


North weren’t playing well but led by a point at half time.  The second half became a void.  Angus needed dinner and a bath.  I managed one score check during the third quarter.  North was 15-points down.


My opinion stayed silent.  I’m not allowed to swear around Angus.  After his bath, we were watching Brisbane lose to the Gold Coast.  He calls football cricket ball.  He wanted to watch cricket on the iPad.


After reading him a bunch of books about trains, planes and hero dads, I checked the scores.  North was nine points up deep into the last quarter.  The final margin, seven points, was vindication.


I deserved the win…


As we age, certain aspects of life become less exciting, like birthdays and Christmas.  But footy never loses its excitement.  That sensation of elation breeds selfishness in supporters and fuels our sense of entitlement.


I had done a lot of work across those weekends.  I was eight again, helping mum fold the washing so North could come back in the 1979 preliminary final.  It didn’t work then.  Amazing I am still overcome by this belief.


But North won.  I could be smug.  I could believe anything.  Karma works occasionally.


Believing I deserved a win is just self-centred embarrassment, an adult regressing to childhood.  It meant ignoring the contributions of others.


Kristine worked as hard too.  As I pushed a lawn mower, she pushed a vacuum.  I whipped the edges.  She whipped up three cakes.  She prepared the fruit tray and organised the food while I was at the tip.


Always, throughout the build up to the party, she gave me clear and specific instructions, punctuated by and don’t forget.


It was hours of effort.  I didn’t forget anything and I didn’t make a list.


Our parents helped get things ready for the party.  It was a team effort.


North’s team effort ensured victory.  It had nothing to do with me and what I’d done.  Finding a tangent between domestic chores and football shows how twisted our minds can become, when we are desperate for a win.


The footy fan is always desperate for a win.  Being good outside football doesn’t influence the result.


Being good is what matters.  Anything better than losing is just a bonus.


I know what I do means nothing to victory, but I’ve already planned my weekend, just so North can beat Sydney…

About Matt Watson

My name is Matt Watson, avid AFL, cricket and boxing fan. Since 2005 I’ve been employed as a journalist, but I’ve been writing about sport for more than a decade. In that time I’ve interviewed legends of sport and the unsung heroes who so often don’t command the headlines. The Ramble, as you will find among the pages of this website, is an exhaustive, unbiased, non-commercial analysis of sport and life. I believe there is always more to the story. If you love sport like I do, you will love the Ramble…


  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    I am so with you ironmike on this matter and have thought exactly like you on many a occasion , mind you as a big Redbacks supporter in cricket I have given up with this method prob more chance to win x lotto than the bloody Sheffield shield
    Thank you bought a smile to my dial

  2. For North to finally win a close one, I can only think that the backyards of Port supporters must look like total junkheaps.
    Well played on the domestic front, but if your example starts giving ideas to the Handicapper and the Avenging Eagle, you will be summarily banned from these pages.

  3. Andrew Starkie says

    Great Iron Mike. Great win North. Not sure where it came from – Port appeared to hit the wall late in the 3rd and North played with run and dare for the first time this year. I picked Port based on last week’s game. Maybe that’s the answer.

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