Took in my first footy game of the season on Saturday. Swan Districts versus Perth Demons in the last trial game before the eight game WAFL season.  Crystalline sky and chill easterly off the desert.


Sitting in the precipitously vertical old concrete stand at Lathlain – now the corporate headquarters (insert mining company sponsor name here) training ground for the West Coast Eagles. Their black glass HQ towers over the eastern goals but is locked to plebs for the duration of the Covid season.


We are playing on the near ground they share with Perth Demons which is Optus Stadium dimensions. The training ground beyond is MCG dimensions which seems like lifeboat practice for the Titanic given the Eagles recent form and the improbability of anything more than seagulls gracing that ground this year.


Nephew Brandon is in defence for the Black Ducks after a stop-start career that began with Coniglio and Broad but has seen the injury disruptions of Patton. Swans are a community club without the commercial backing of Subiaco and the AFL affiliates, but rusted-on locals have a keen eye and memory for who is the next Naitanui, Walters, Embley, Walker, Baker or Bunton.


After an enthusiastic first quarter where both teams are finding their range and their feet, the game opens up with Swans dominating the second and the Demons flooding home to fall gratifyingly short.


Defence has structures and chipping/running it out but beyond that it’s refreshingly open, fast and kick it long to the big blokes and crumbers.  Footy as we love it.  A players’ not a coaches’ game.


Strange how every AFL coach blames the poor playing standard on their inability to have more time/staff with players.  WAFL players work 40-hour weeks and coaches are all part time. The best AFL teams this year are playing an expansive style while the dinosaurs stick rigidly with game plans deconstructed from rugby, soccer and hockey.


Our decision to ignore the Eagles and Crows on TV easily validated. AFL is dinner wallpaper most nights in the Western time zone, but tonight I won’t even bother with Kangas and Bombers in Manchuria after turning off the Hawks last night before Clarko could start demolishing furniture alongside watchability.


Kochie was right. The whole AFL season should be played in Shanghai. Great time zone for TV and President Xi will rustle up 30,000 Hong Kong dissidents in team colours to fill the stands and cheer as required.


Footy is family, mates, crowds, ridiculing and being ridiculous, hot coffee and chips. We’ll go to Optus in a fortnight when the Eagles have their first home game against the Pies – subject to winning a seat in row lotto. The stadium half full along with the heart of the game.


I get why the AFL/NRL and assorted professional codes are tying themselves in ever more contorted knots to keep the show on the road.  The bloated salaries and retinue of players, coaches and administrators have to be fed. How would Fox, Seven and SportingBet survive if there was no geese to be plucked.


Covid an unforeseen liability with no contingency in the Business Plan. And that is why I feel myself withdrawing from professional sport. It’s not just AFL.  Usually I’d be up at 5am watching American golf or Champions League soccer but sport without context and meaning is just Dancing With the Stars.


The codes are making their best of the bad hand Covid19 has dealt. But stripped of their finery its just more obvious they’ve long been selling us Danny La Rue dressed as Marilyn Monroe.


2006 US Open golf winner and now course designer Geoff Ogilvy put it clearly on the State of the Game podcast last week.  Pausing when asked about the sport’s future he said the PGA Tour is a marketing organisation not a sporting one.  They’ll do whatever it takes to have a product to market. The content, value and consequences of that product are secondary.


The coming weekend is 36 holes of golf for me on a mates weekend in Bunbury instead of the AFL’s Western Derby.


Living in Perth, retired and modestly secure we find ourselves richer not poorer adapting to a shrinking world. Participating more and watching less. Buying two local club season memberships for the price of two Eagles games.


We have memories and means to enrich us – which is a privilege not shared by many still making their way in the world or living in dangerous places.


It’s 1980 again in our atomised world in Perth and I rather like it that way.






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  1. PB, it seems like you’ve been reading Adorno on the entertainment industry. I have in the past.


  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    If it is truly 1980, have you swapped Globe Derby for Gloucester Park?

  3. Kevin Densley says

    Enjoyed this, PB – particularly liked “selling us Danny La Rue dressed as Marilyn Monroe”!

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Enjoy your football over there PB. Do you wear a black & white scarf to WAFL games?

    Happy to report I’ve got back to playing golf in recent weeks after a long hiatus. Been years since I’ve had the time. Look forward to making more time for it.

  5. With the success of Westralia’s secession Prime Minister McGowan has announced that Thursday’s Collingwood Geelong game is the first match of the International Rules competition.

  6. Peter Crossing says

    Well said Pierre. Particularly your comment that, “Footy is family, mates, crowds, ridiculing and being ridiculous, hot coffee and chips”. North Adelaide vs Woodville-West Torrens next Saturday. In the winter sun at Prospect with maybe a few beers on the agenda as well.

  7. Sounds like all is well in Perth. Who owns the pub there these days?

    Always had a soft spot for the old Swan Districts due to their colours (same not said for Collingwood). They seem to have been reasonable in recent years. You are right about pro sport and the AFL/NRL tying themselves in knots to create an artificial comp. I reckon at some stage this year some great catastrophe will strike the AFL and they will have to call it off. Thus, despite Port being top and Crows bottom, there is little real focus or joy. Although NicNat delivered last week!

    Not a fan of your PM, as we had a 3 month window to visit this year and should have been somewhere in either Marble Bar, Broome or the Pilbara about now. Not happy, Jan.

  8. Nice read, Peter. Enjoy your golf!

  9. A nice reflection, PB, and I suspect that you are far from being on your Pat Malone on this.
    I was unaware of Ogilvy’s comments, but do find them extraordinary.
    “Danny La Rue dressed as Marilyn Monroe”. Love that description, PB.

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