Asparagus salads and denim shorts

Call me a traditionalist, or whatever you want, but asparagus salads and denim shorts don’t belong in the football world. To me, if I’m trotting off to the football on a Friday night I should be MCG bound. The air should be fresh, brisk, the kind that slaps you across the cheeks and says, “Wake up, footy’s back! Don’t drag your feet, pick up that pace, and tighten that scarf, those shivers down your back can be prevented, you know.” I would think of soup and pies and all things of hot and hearty persuasion to warm my bones. I would stomp my feet at traffic lights and blow hot air into my hands to get the feeling back and the blood flowing freely. I would be cold, uncomfortable and slightly anxious. But I wouldn’t care, because these are the things I wait for through long and tedious pre-seasons. This is what I love.

So you can excuse me for feeling a little out of kilter with the world last Friday night, as I sat on the balcony of the Woolshed pub, with a balmy, south-easterly blowing through my hair and an asparagus salad placed in front of me. The salad was great, don’t get me wrong, and the company I kept did the job. Wasn’t Dad, which was strange, but I was amongst friends, two Tigers and two Hawks, so there was certainly a sense of balance to the conversation. But we didn’t rush, in fact we didn’t make a move until half-way through the first half (I want to say quarter, but again, this isn’t the norm, this is the NAB cup and in this, even the matches don’t function the way they should.)

We got lost on the way. How we managed that I’m not sure, all we had to do was cross the road, but as my friend Denis aptly put it we were in “foreign territory,” being so far away from the beloved MCG, and so we didn’t take our seats until the end of the first game. North won. Great.

I lamented momentarily and then ‘moved on’. Such is the case with pre-season football. When there are three teams running around the park I struggle to take losses to heart. I mean, this isn’t real football after all and I challenge anyone out there to tell me otherwise.

I tuned out for much of the next game. Although I did partake in mocking the Hawk supporter behind us who really loved to wheel out the good old, “Buddy wouldn’t get a free even if they lit him on fire!”

“Don’t have kids.” I heard Nick say under his breath. I laughed. I agreed. And then the game was over and the Tiges were back and, for some reason, they looked on song. We had no Riewoldt, no Cotchin, no Dusty but this didn’t seem to be a problem. The absurdity of the night continued. It was just as Jackson rammed home his second goal that I felt something crawling on my bare legs. I looked down, spied a mosquito and slapped so hard that my fingers began to tingle and the bloodiness that ensued blended in with the redness of my smacked skin. As if on cue, the siren sounded and the game was over.

Of course I jumped up and down and celebrated as much as I normally would, but the elation just didn’t feel right. The air was too warm, the ground too unfamiliar. I wanted pies and chills and warm winter coats and I suppose, in this, you can call me a traditionalist, or whatever you want. But round-robins just don’t seem to do it for me. Bring on the good stuff.

About Catherine Durkin

Catherine Durkin, who has been writing for the Almanac since her high school days, is now a reporter and presenter for Fox Sports News, based in Sydney


  1. Be careful what you wish for Catherine: could be a long, chilly winter at Punt Road.

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