AFL Round 6 – Collingwood v St Kilda: Homebody’s neighbourly duty brings him into the world of the tweet

It wasn’t that long ago that a Friday night was a night on the tiles. A night spent amid the growing hubbub of the front bar. Overpriced finger food, touched by many unhygienic fingers, masquerading as dinner. Footy flickering on the corner TV, past the pool table, volume off. Until the picture is diverted to jukebox duty (And yes, “Girls on film” eventually does run out of puff).

Yet now, one seven-year-old and one six-year-old later, and I’m heard celebrating the freedom of Barkly Square car park on a Friday night. I’m arguing with young colleagues the benefits of a Friday night journey to Coles. Oh my.

It’s Round 6 and I’ve managed, against the run of play, to attend two matches this year. I’ve taken in the punting ads. I’ve taken in the AFL seating policy (standing room tickets happily sold at Docklands, while empty seats are vigorously protected by vigilante uniformed controllers). I’ve taken in the advertising bombardment. I’ve taken in a tremendous stroll on a sunny Saturday afternoon in May to the mighty MCG (the smell of burning leaves regrettably absent).

This is Friday night. I’ve managed a swift pint at the public servant’s appointed hour of 4.30pm. The lads in high-vis gear have been perched at that bar for the best part of the afternoon, now. That makes five Friday nights in a row for those two in particular. Surely it’s coincidence, but that young Swedish bar-woman has been in the job five weeks. They’re giving her some charmingly welcome advice on how best to pour my Guinness. She does well.

And then I’m off. Not to that Friday night party in St. Kilda. Not to the other party at a house in Fitzroy. No, I’m off home for a night shepherding little ones. Our neighbours are having a rare night out (kids 4 and 1), and either I or my wonderful life partner will be minding them tonight. The other of us will be minding our own.

I’m racing now along the #96 route amid what Crowded House would call the “together alone”. Smart phones and headphones and serious looks on serious faces. A pod of early teen skateboarders liven up the trip with their faux street-talk and designer attitude.

I’m hoping to spend the night ingloriously straddling home base. As I ease through the back door, I immediately clock that my aforementioned life partner is wearing her flannelette pyjamas and it’s not yet 6.30pm. That’s a solid claim to home base.

So we wolf down a spag bog and a further pint of the black (Rosey and Grey from a tin) before I’m off. Over the road. Taking a bag full of paperwork was always a foolish idea. Admirable in intent, but foolish in degree of realism. One-year-old is already asleep. Four-year-old hangs on for a few pages of an enthusiastic reading of Tintin and the Picaros. And then, the night is mine.

Collingwood v St Kilda from the Docklands. Our neighbours have one of those huge flat screen televisions. I guess most people have at least one of those by now. But it’s a novelty for me, all the same. And they’ve left me the delicious dregs of a Freycinet Pinot and some chocolate. As my friend would say: Bada-boom.

I decide to experience this game as a tweeter. To try tweeting through this game. Spending time in the twitterverse. This is not a place I’ve spent much time. Got myself a twitter account years ago, but never saw the point of the exercise. The whole thing made a little more sense when I was given an iPhone last year. But still.

Now, here in this someone else’s home, on my own, I’m going to surround myself with e-friends. What is this #-tag idea? I’ve heard of it, of course. But a little exploration and I’m aware of #aflpiessaints. There’s Greg Baum there, senior footy journo of The Age, tweeting a gag about air conditioning at the footy. And look, it’s John Harms. And LOTS of other people loading up their views and whacking them out there.

An alarming thing happens. Yes, I’ve long been aware of the time-travel aspect of internet surfing. That temporal black hole that sucks entire evenings from the lifetimes of an otherwise fit and sane homo sapiens.  But suddenly we’re deep in the second quarter and I realize that I haven’t noticed a thing.

So I watch. Watch. Get yer eyes off the iPhone, son. Put the tweeting away and watch the damn football. I’ll watch, I tell myself, in order to post something, anything, into the twittersphere. So I watch as Darren Jolly leads and marks strongly. Like a full forward of old.  He goes back and kicks a beauty. And after the ad break, he’s there contesting the centre bounce.

And that’s my moment. My first footy tweet moment, spat out onto #aflpiessaints, for the general amusement and distraction of all. For posterity’s sake, this is what it said: “Jolly missed the meeting re: sprinting off immediately after kicking a goal. Now he’s in the ruck.”  I know. Genius.

Many, many tweets are fired off deploring the standard of footy. Many, many more speculating on the likely short term future of Jason Koschitzke (following his indiscrete elbow to the head of Jamie Elliott). The tweeting, I’m learning, is a big distraction, but it’s also added something. It’s added a strange sense of community to my solitary evening. A sense of sharing ideas and overheard conversations. It would have been better if the tweets were audio messages – at least then I could have shared while having an eye on the game. In a way, it’s a little like being in the front bar. Though I’m definitely alone.

The siren sounds unexpectedly and it’s Collingwood 15.13.103 to St.Kilda 11.11.77. Are we all part of something bigger?

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He shares the care of two daughters and a dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. mickey randall says

    David- As a dad to two young fellas myself, and clearly one who inhabits a similar universe, I enjoyed your piece. The bride probably disagrees but footy for me now is largely stolen moments, and not the three, four or five game per weekend marathon it was pre-kids. And don’t start me on Friday nights at the pub! Still, it’s a good thing! Like you, I’ve had a twitter account for some time, and beyond it seemingly being compulsory for all Q and A watchers, I’m yet to harness its potential.

    Thanks for your piece, I really enjoyed it!

  2. e.regnans says

    Ahh, thanks mickey randall.
    Yep: “Still, it’s a good thing!”
    It sure is.
    Thanks for the message. Not sure about the long-term future of twitter. But I’m getting a healthy ribbing from both the oldies (“what are you doing? Life is passing you by while you tweet.”) and the young ‘uns (“what are you doing? Life is passing you by while you tweet that way.”)
    So that means I’m doing something right, right?

  3. David

    Great read, loved in the images. I did like the flannel pjs being a clear indication of who would be doing the babysitting.

    I think looking after the younger ones though you may have got the better end of the deal and uninteruppted viewing.

    My 12 year old was shocked I didn’t have any apps on my iPhone the other day, and probably hopes I don’t mention that to his friends, so as a technically backward person, I applaud your entree to Twitter and think your first post on Jolly was pretty good.

    May you have many more Fridays watching the game in a warm home with sleeping kids and a few quiet drinks


  4. David Downer says

    Really entertaining read David, good stuff.

    Early images hit the mark. And I’m still sans-kids!

    Those of us “on the tweet” can relate also.



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