Almanac Footy: Season 39


Cielo and the footy gear!



Season 39



The big league started three weeks ago.


At home, Latin music is playing. Everything’s different to before.


The punk is gone, the grunge, grinding tunes that push a body forward. So is the winding stuff. No Towns Van Zandt, no Fred Neil, to slow down the mind.


I try to do things with purpose. Punch through my pre-game breakfast routine. Carbs, fluids and natural sugar energy. No fats. Performance cereal with orange juice, not milk. Honey and banana toast, no butter. Fruit cordial, not just water. Two minute noodles. But our little girl’s wrapped herself around my leg, and is sitting on my foot, copping a ride. I drag my leg, and her, thought the kitchen, trying to eat.


She wants the banana, but not the noodles. But wants some noodles after all. But doesn’t. But has to poo-poo, and Mamma is busy.


This farmhouse comes with a caveat of rent, plus work on the block. I already work two full time jobs, coach Under 18s, play footy, and try to be a good Dad, a family man, with my time. Those hours put on a massive squeeze, but this morning they’re golden. My back’s stuffed, I can barely move. Dodging bursts of hard rain I take the ute and chainsaw down to the long fence line, clearing all the overgrowth for a while.


Like gym muscles are hollow to work muscles, the body knows. Stretching does so little. An hour of yakka, and anti inflams, loosens me up enough to play.


Back home, its time to go, go, go! The kid meanders up and demands to wrestle. Gives me cute eyes. I try to herd her towards the car.


“Good idea, Pappa,” she says. “I’ll hide!”


She takes her harmonica with her behind the couch.


“Don’t look Pappa!”


I’m itching to leave, bouncing on the balls of my feet like 1,000 full bladders.


The couch starts playing harmonica.


“It’s not me! It’s a monster!” a voice comes from behind it. “Find me Pappa! Find me!”


I get the kid in the car, and try to rush my wife by turning it on. She’s still inside. Finally, I go looking for her. “Oh, are you ready? I was waiting in here.”


On the way, I don’t drive at ridiculous speeds that, somehow, always put me in a state of footy Zen – the focus on not dying clearing my head. Again, the pounding driving music is gone. Instead, we cruise, talking about our families. My wife plays Latin nursery rhymes for our child. Pure, sugar-drenched sweetness in any language, while outside, the rain falls hard.


In the end I just laugh, and roll with it. This is me now. Hopefully, I’m old enough to not need routine. To live in another sort of chaos, and still go hard.


At the footy oval, the locals greet our child much more so than me. She rushes to return their affection, then ferrets off, weaving through legs, looking for any one of a dozen kids her age, running wild, being free.


I take half a second to think of 1983, Round 4, in a now defunct, blue collar suburban league, in an almost defunct way of life. Tatts, pot bellies, missing teeth and football. My first senior game. Then kiss my wife good-bye and walk into the change rooms, that no matter where we end up in Australia, always feel like home. I have no idea about the opposition, and don’t really care. I’ll give it my all.


A good crowd is starting to build. I focus on the game, as our child bumps into me again. “Come play with me, Pappa! Come play!”


Covid’s on the wain, season 39 has arrived.



The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in the coming weeks. 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 right now HERE



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  1. Which club this season Matt? Are you back in the airways?

  2. Otways

  3. Matt Zurbo says

    Yep! Full circle.

  4. Into it Zurbs. Your cup is full

  5. E.regnans says

    play on!

  6. Beaut Old Dog, gives me the energy of a thousand orange juice-soaked weetbix!

  7. Malby Dangles says

    Let’s go, Matty!!

  8. Delightful
    And brave!

  9. Old Dog love your passion to still play ! Yes kids certainly change the pre game ritual yes I was as intense as you

  10. Matt Zurbo says

    Thanks all!

    And, yeah, Rulebook, I have no doubt!!!

  11. Peter Fuller says

    I note that you were first-named in the best players in your team, although unfortunately the team copped a hiding.Well done that (not quite) old man!

  12. Matt Zurbo says

    Yep, a flogging is right! Still, onwards…!

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