Almanac Footy (and Life): A sense of perspective

Easter weekend is a hell of a time to lose faith.


To say the two big teams I look out for the most – Arsenal (London) and the Saints (not Southampton, nor New Orleans for that matter) – had testing weekends is putting it mildly. Humiliating, is an appropriate word to use for both losses, and the glare is now well and truly on the men in charge: Mikel Arteta and Brett Ratten, respectively.


Both promised to revitalise their teams. Both promised, in short, running footy full of vim and vigour and creative imagination, where the ball would move around before the opposition knew what was happening, yet at the same time the fans would know exactly what has happening.


Now it seems clear that the cross both coaches are bearing is too much.


In London, Arteta arrived at Arsenal as the new saviour – he had sat at the right hand of Pep, after all – when we’d learnt that Unai Emery wasn’t saving us from post-Wenger drudgery and failure.


In Melbourne, Ratten arrived at St Kilda as the new saviour after we learnt that, well, no one was saving us from post-’66 drudgery and failure.


And there have been pleasing glances of those promises along the way.


In the most recent North London Derby, Arsenal tore Spurs apart for 80 minutes. And it was beautiful. The ball zinged about the place as if controlled by a higher (red) force and the players in white were simply inanimate objects to be avoided.


Closer to home and an injury ravaged Saints floated up to Lake GWS in Round 1. They ran like maniacs and kicked like artists to gain an unexpected four points.


But in reality both are, to put it kindly, struggling.


Emery was sacked for finishing 5th in the league, an improvement of one place from when he was hired. Today Arsenal sit 10th after wilting three goals and three points at home to Liverpool on Saturday.


St Kilda played finals last year for the first time in a decade but, a few hours before Arsenal sponged across New Highbury, the Saints were, in the words of Ratten, ‘insipid’ in their 75-point loss to the Bombers.


We usually associate crucifixion as something done to innocent people. As Bob Hoskins said: ‘You don’t crucify people! Not on Good Friday!’


We need to be honest, though. Teams are a reflection of their coaches and it seems pretty clear to me now that both are busted flushes. (Albeit acknowledging that Ratts has achieved a lot more than I have in his mere 25 extra days on this planet …)


One step forward, two steps back. That’s still failure, no matter how attractive that one step may be.


This failure made me angry! Spitting chips angry! Why is this happening to MY teams?


And then I read Rusty Jackson’s harrowing piece on Rod Owen. It condemns St Kilda as a club specifically and all of us as footy fans generally.


I’ve also been reading Tracey Thorns’s book on Lindy Morrison. It condemns the Go-Betweens as a band specifically and all us as music fans generally.


And suddenly I’m ashamed because I cared about points and ladders and tables.


And I’m ashamed because of what I didn’t know.


So many untold stories are more important than the stories that are told. What we don’t know, it turns out, matters more in helping us understand what is and isn’t important.


I need to remember that, yes, as things get bigger, they tend to feel more important while in reality they become less so. That when things become distorted it can be hard to keep a sense of perspective, to know where to look.


A couple of  weeks ago, amateur park cricket teams were hugging people they’d never otherwise have anything to do with. Now as the leaves gradually depart and the first real chill of the year sets in, park football teams are hoping they’ll be doing the same come September. Musicians are – finally! – performing again in the same room as audiences, inspiring collective joy through skill and creativity.


Clubs, teams, they’re important. Art, in the same way, is important.


They inspire us and help us belong.


The Almanac tells those stories that otherwise would not be told, would be lost amongst the noise of screaming headlines and Premier League dramas and AFL review systems.


I need to remember to keep looking in the right place.



The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in 2021. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order HERE


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  1. Patrick, I’m in a similar situation – Arsenal and the Brisbane Broncos. But you’re correct – they’re not what is really important. For me, it’s more than a coincidence that you have submitted this in the shadows of Easter.

  2. E.regnans says

    Timely and yet timeless observations, Patrick.

    We all find meaning somewhere, I guess.
    And I’ve learnt that meaning can be gained and lost.

    How well do we ever know another?
    There’s a question.

  3. Well said Patrick.

  4. Daryl Schramm says

    Hear Hear Patrick. My cricket club had 6 out of 7 senior sides in semi finals and 4 in the GF. Lost them all. No matter. It was still a good year and the Almanac never fails to deliver.

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