Autumnal Bliss

Autumn is the real season of love in Melbourne. The revolting heat of an uncouth summer has been relaced by beautiful mid-twenties sunny warmth and cool nights; short sleeves and jeans weather.

Easter Thursday (is there really such a thing?) was a perfect example of one of these Melbourne autumn days and like any good writer I spent it in the State Library. The library is what Melbourne wishes it was in microcosm- a beautiful space in which lovely young things, and older things, from every nation on earth gather to pour over history and knowledge.

There goes Barry Jones, Geelong boy. The legs don’t get Barry around in much of a hurry these days but the contents of that head still sparkle like a Tesla transmitter.

In corners and study tables folk read newspapers, websites, manuscripts and microfilm. Beautiful Asian girls cram for that extra percent while their spiky haired lovers play games on their phones (with the sound off) and try to get them to relax enough to accept a B. The loutish lovers make me sing a Smith songs in my head, I hope they treat them kindly.

Everywhere the beauty and brains of Melbourne are on display with a kind of bookish multicultural sauciness.

5:30, time to go, Kylie is waiting in her usual spot and adorned with yet another front light, the fifth of the year. She had started the season unkindly, blowing a tyre and pitching me into the bitumen in front of a group of Hawthorn supporters.

Tonight we danced like teenage debutants through the peak hour traffic moving from one heart of Melbourne to another- Lonsdale, Spring and the tricky-when-it’s-busy Wellington Parade. Duck through some back streets and my steed brings me to the Corner Hotel.

Tony Joe White is sound checking as I make my way to the roof-top bar and meet the familiar folk I’ve been going to the football with for nearly 20 years.

Being Geelong fans all, it being round three and Geelong having not yet lost, very little tension is in the air, especially for a Collingwood game. Discussion centres on the differing therapies used to get over another grand final loss. The fact that it has been got over quickly was seen as sign of optimism… or age.

The poor Woods seem to have something missing this year; the night grand final was a shemozzle, their fans have been fighting and that sparkle of love for the game and each other seems to have gone from the players’ eyes.

Earlier in the week an ashen-faced Jesse Mallinder had gone to court for belting up a Melbourne-player’s father at the previous Magpies game, apparently while on ecstasy.

Who starts a fight on ecstasy? The picture in the paper showed a fit young man with dark lost eyes facing the beak in a singlet. He reminded me of Heath Shaw facing the media last year after his evening drive with Alan Didak, the Pancho and Lefty of football. Maybe that’s where the love has gone; it all got very serious and you don’t know how far you’ve gone.

Only half full at the G for two teams that have been “rivals” over the last few years. In any case the Woods start with an intensity that Geelong can’t cope with and if they’d kick straight would have been five goals up at quarter time.

The crowd is well mixed and individual wit-contests are breaking out everywhere.

“Show me the Tomahawk!” the Collingwood crowd bated.

But then the inevitable hurricane comes, a hurricane many teams have witnessed over the years. Before they can blink the Maggies are trudging into half time five goals down.

It is a good, tough game that could’ve been closer if the Woods had kicked straight but we in Geelong have little sympathy for that these days.

Trav Varcoe looks bigger, faster and more comfortable than I’ve seen him and did as much as any when the chips were down early.

When David Woscinski goals on the run, when no one has a clue what Johnson will do next, and the bald men bob and goal seemingly at will, the blue and white hoops flash a sparkle like a rat with a diamond tooth.

Travis Cloke, last year a snarling Nez Perce can’t get near hand held apple. For Heath Shaw, there again was only darkness and his love for football must feel like the fag end of a Townes van Zandt ballad.

At games end Kylie and I wandered through the crowd and pedalled back through to that western suburb of dreams.

A day of warmth, beauty and good books followed by cool evening and a five goal win over Collingwood- an autumn day in Melbourne that couldn’t be bettered.

About Hamish Townsend

Hamish Townsend was born and raised in Geelong, supports the Cats and lives in Brisbane.

Leave a Comment