Bless me Father, for I (may) have sinned

Bless me Father, for I (may) have sinned.

Maybe it was our esteemed leader Mr Harms writing about Assumption Day recently (rightly corrected by one of the Micks amongst us as the Feast of the Assumption and a Holy Day of Obligation) but I feel the need to get religious and seek forgiveness.

I recently found myself with a moral dilemma that covered both football and parenting, and I feel I may have strayed off the path of righteousness.

My moral dilemma reminded me of the old line about mixed emotions being watching your mother-in-law drive off a cliff in your new Ferrari, however as I will never own a Ferrari and my mother-in-law has been known to read my articles, I of course sin binned that comment and moved on.

My 12 year old son attends Auskick at the Glenferrie Oval in Hawthorn, and it is fantastic that he can play on a ground with such history, where Hudson, Crimmins, Matthews and Scott played games or trained. In fact, it is only within reasonably recently memory that the Hawks moved out of there for Waverly, and I recall watching Dunstall’s last training session there one August Thursday afternoon. As a young Hawks fan, he has enjoyed playing in front of the Tuck Stand, a wonderful, albeit asbestos ridden, example of Art Deco design, currently under repair.

The Hawthorn Auskick centre is well patronised, and as a result, has its fair share of opportunities to play in the AFL half time games. This year he has played in the Hawthorn and Bulldogs match and they were also the pre match entertainment with a 30 minute game opportunity before the EJ Whitten Legends game at Etihad.

As he’s a Grade 6 boy, they play in the game that goes from wing to wing, having graduated from the smaller grid games for younger kids in the forward pockets. They play in full kit, proper rules, representing one of the clubs playing that day. Auskick is a wonderful program, grabbing kids at the formative stage of their involvement in footy, and is very well run and managed. The chance to play on the main stage in front of crowds at half time, and to award premiership medals on the big day, is a great marketing piece.

Last weekend, Ben’s group was again invited to play, with their game being the Collingwood and North game on Saturday evening. Like any dad, I was incredibly happy for him to get the chance to run around and play in front of a big crowd, and form a guard of honour for the players after the half time break. He loved this when he played in the Hawks game, wearing the jumper he loves so much, and in the EJ Whitten game, they wore the jumper of his junior footy club, the Hawks away jumper.

This weekend though, he’d have to wear another jumper, and as the game approached, we knew there was a 50% chance his group would be nominated as the Collingwood team.

I am sure you see my dilemma here.

On one hand, my desire to give my son wonderful football opportunities like running out at Etihad on a Saturday evening, in front of 40,000, being in the change rooms, getting high fives and being close to the action.

On the other, wearing a Collingwood jumper in public.

What to do? Do I deny him the chance, and hope he sees the greater good that will come from denial. Do I assume he agrees with me that I just can’t let him wear the prison stripes? That he has heard from me enough times that it is ABC (Anyone but Collingwood)

I must admit, I am not fanatical about matters like this, and don’t hate Collingwood in a nonsensical way, letting it dominate my life. I may dislike the Pies, but hate’s a strong word that I try to avoid.

But, having grown up in Melbourne, to a Carlton family before settling on the Tigers, I know that Collingwood is wrong and never the twain shall meet. You are either for them or against them, simple as that, and I think they like it that way.

Or do I suck it up princess, drink that cup of concrete, and let the boy enjoy playing footy regardless of the jumper.

Was I worried that a 14 minute game in the black and white would lead to a toothless life of crime?

I surveyed a number of my friends as to what to do, and got responses ranging from “let the kid play” to “you’re dead to me Sean”

To his credit, Ben looked at me like Isaac to Abraham and said he understood what I had to do and backed me all the way.

In the end, I let him play, as chances like this are rare and part of being a kid. But I said there’d be no photos for mum this time around, and he understood.

The result: he played for the Pies, kicked a good goal and they beat their undersized Kangaroos opposition by 6 goals. Since Saturday night, there’s been no desire to get a full sleeve tattoo as yet, but he did pull a sickie from school yesterday.

As it turned out, Ben and his team’s effort was one of the few smiles Pies supporters got on Saturday night. The way Cloke and Dawes played, they couldn’t have done any worse if they got a few of the taller 12 year olds to stay on for the third quarter and subbed the big forwards out.

To give credit where it is due, as good as the AFL is at arranging Auskick and corralling kids and parents with tickets, seats, and getting them all into jumpers downstairs with all that excitement, the Pies themselves do a stunning job on the day with Auskick organisation. They seem to recognise this as a marketing opportunity and that wearing the jumper is special. We had two dedicated Collingwood staffers/volunteers working with the parents and kids from 6-9pm, and the club is canny enough to try to win over those still undecided, as well as rewarding those in the teams already on the Pies bandwagon.

I feel I compromised my principles a bit, but as Ch 7 didn’t show any of it during the Taylor and Darcy half time wrap, and there’s no photos, I can claim it didn’t happen, and that there’s no evidence of my son in full Magpie gear out there.

I hope.

Regardless, I seek forgiveness for letting him represent the Pies for a night and will accept a season of orange cutting or having to eat 3 MCG superdogs as penance.

About Sean Curtain

"He was born with a gift of laughter, and a sense that the world was mad". First line of 'Scaramouche' by Sabatini, always liked that.


  1. Sean – don’t worry it will pass. Years ago I played football for Montmorency. I had to wear a Collingwood jumper. Apart from the odd involuntary twitch and a strange rash that appears from time to time, I’ve completely recovered……recovered……recovered……..recovered.

  2. Lie back and think of England

  3. I had a similar experience growing up…I am a Carlton supporter like my father is (an aside; his advice on me choosing a team “Don’t care who you go for, but I’m only taking you to Carlton games”), but had the opportunity of playing little league for collingwood through VicKick. This provided Dad, not so much myself, with a very real dilemma. Blood vs Personal Values. I was more concerned with Essendon and Hawthorn at that stage in terms of rival teams that bothered me ie. who the other kids at school barracked for.

    For my little league match against Melbourne on the G, I caught the tram (Dad refused a lift), dobbed a couple of goals and got nominated for the collingwood finals team (not sure how it works now…this was 1991. Sadly remains almost my most significant sporting achievement). Once all the regular season little league matches were complete, the collingwood finals squad (the BOG’s from the 22 matches through the year I think) trained at Victoria Park on consecutive Saturdays, which Mum had to drive me(Dad refused again). The trauma continued for Dad as we then played our ‘final’ against Geelong at Kardinia Park during R24. Dad was supportive enough to drive me down (through necessity…no tram down to Geelong!), however again refused to watch the match. Fortunately for him we lost the match, although we managed to get a speeding ticket on the way back from KP around Little River…which didn’t surprise Dad one bit given what I’d been up to.

    Lesson in all of that…let the kid play. I harbour particularly strong anti-black and white feelings despite the thrill of dobbing a few goals on the G with their jumper. And I’ve got a story to have a chuckle with Dad about!

  4. Dave Nadel says

    An opportunity to play in the guernsey of the greatest football club of all time and you agonise over it?

    Pearls before swine!

  5. Allowing your son to play with no photographic evidence is the straightest possible bat to play there Sean.

    Well played sir, well played.

  6. What ever happened to the days when if you didn’t kick with the left foot and barrack for Collingwood you didn’t get a game at Victoria Park? I always said Auskick was going to become the thin edge of the wedge.

    Look Sean, the best thing to do is get the kid – Ben was it – get Ben down to St Ignatius. Father Dyer holds an exorcism every second Tuesday after school.

  7. great story sean.

    i guess the flip side to this is collingwood supporters growing up playing football against teams wearing the black and white!

    i can tell you it was agonizing! especially in the sheds after the game when they were singing the song and i couldn’t join in!

  8. Dave,

    I think the saying “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” is more appropriate in this case.

  9. Big Toe

    Could leave a taint on him … like that Seinfled episode where he couldn’t get that B.O out of his car. I’d think it through some more

    Keep em coming

  10. What the heck is going on here? Where was I when these decisions were being made? I’ve obviously woken up this morning into a world where the normally polite and structured society I’ve become accustomed to, and have played a not insignificant part in developing, has come crashing down.

    So it’s not good enough for the Collingwood Football Club to have the draw tailored, play at the MCG more often than Bill Ponsford, travel interstate as much as Polly Woodside, have a run home like a trail ride, be excused (let’s face it) from wearing an away strip, have the country’s most influential sports media “personality” as its president, be on the front, back middle pages of the little (and thoroughly absorbent) paper when the back flanker from the U19’s gets a new pair of boots, bastardise a great Spanish-American war penned Boer War anthem as a theme song (find out like I did), subject us to the ongoing saga of Travis Cloke who makes Andrew Tarpy look like John Coleman and Richo look positively sharp in front of goal, make us cheer for Carlton twice a year, have sympathy for Stephen Milne, have the coverage spend as much time searching the crowd for Eddie and Joffa as watching the play, force me to rule out Emirates when planning overseas trips; now they have to pollute the minds of the young such as a perfectly normal and in the circumstances given his paternal genes a remarkably astute and well-adjusted young fellow like Ben Curtain by attempting to get him to cross to the dark side – with apologies to all other dark sides for the association.

    This cannot continue. The Collingwood gene pool needs to be contained, not be allowed to spread into the non – Westpac Centre areas of society. I blame the parents. And the carbon tax. But mostly the parents

    (Will D. Cobb / Paul Barnes)

    I have come to say goodbye, Dolly Gray
    It’s no use to ask me why, Dolly Gray
    There’s a murmur in the air, you can hear it everywhere
    It is the time to do and dare, Dolly Gray

    Don’t you hear the tramp of feet, Dolly Gray
    Sounding through the village street, Dolly Gray
    ‘Tis the tramp of soldiers’ true in their uniforms so blue
    I must say goodbye to you, Dolly Gray

    Goodbye Travis I must leave you, though it breaks my heart to go
    Something tells me I am needed at the front to fight the foe
    See, the boys in blue are marching and I can no longer stay
    Hark, I hear the bugle calling, Goodbye Travis Cloke

    Hear the rolling of the drums, Dolly Gray
    Back from war the regiment comes, Dolly Gray
    On your lovely face so fair, I can see a look of fear
    For your soldier boy’s not there, Dolly Gray

    For the one you love so well, Dolly Gray
    In the midst of battle fell, Dolly Gray
    With his face toward the foe, as he died he murmured low
    “I must say goodbye and go, Dolly Gray”

    Goodbye Dolly I must leave you, though it breaks my heart to go
    Something tells me I am needed at the front to fight the foe
    See, the boys in blue are marching and I can no longer stay
    Hark, I hear the bugle calling, Goodbye Dolly Gray

  12. Ray

    You make fair comments all round, especially about the role of the carbon tax (right up there with the internet and letting women into the MCC as reasons for the downfall of decent standards) however I call point of order and ask for the video review and a Please Explain on what contributions you could claim to have made to a structured and polite society.


  13. Sean

    By not breeding Collingwood supporters.


  14. You don’t get it……..

    We just love the thought that you can’t stand us. Just love it.

    Black & white and here forever.

  15. We know that Baksey. But we just can’t help ourselves when the fish are biting you just have to be in the action.

    I think some knackers over use the ‘burley’ though.

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