The Carlton Football Club has been an institution in my Grandmother’s and Aunty’s lives. It makes up their past, present and future.


It’s the navy blue of their blood, sweat and tears. The Carlton Football Club is who they are and will always be.


My Nona and Aunty have lived through Carlton’s golden age, watching 1968, 1970, 1972, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1987 and 1995. Living through the absolute triumphs of football, feeling the pleasure so many still long to feel.


I’m a Cats baby from birth, raised by my mad Geelong Dad, who was raised by my Cats-loving grandfather. Papou migrated from Cyprus in 1951 and found a love for Geelong, who’s blue and white stripes matched the Greek flag.


Dad and Papou had the other end of the spectrum for most of their lives, and Dad didn’t see a premiership until he was 44 years old – the same time I was merely six.


Dad and Aunty Penny told me they came from a ‘broken home’.


Broken…by the teams that pulled them to opposite ends of the highway and opposite ends of the ground.


They’d spend most weekends at Princes Park, the MCG, Kardinia when they could (and never Victoria Park, because…it was Victoria Park).


They grew up with a game that seems so different in today’s world. It was old school football, suburb verses suburb, the battle for the home territory.


They were intrigued by the game, and developed the soft spots for each other’s teams. That was the grass roots football that really pulled them closer, brought out the passion that has been shared for generations.


I bleed blue and white, live for my Catters, however, being raised so close to my Aunty Penny and Nona, my love for the Blue boys has grown.


So, as the big Carlton v Collingwood rivalry approaches, it is timely that I reflect on the person I am because of the Carlton Football Club and the mentors who have passed down their love for this game.


With this is mind, Carlton has been part of me for as long as I can remember. Whether that be sorting out Carlton cards for Nona’s fridge, witnessing the glorious Carlton v Collingwood rivalries with Aunty Penny or learning the Blues song with Nona – even when I didn’t want to!


Carlton has always been there. It has hovered and floated in the background of my life, thanks to the fanaticism of my family.


I’ve grown up with a Nona who cannot physically watch Carlton games live anymore (she gets too stressed), and relies on us to text her the scores ‘only if they’re good’.


When the whole family attended the 1987 Grand Final between Carlton and Hawthorn, Nona got up in the first 10 minutes of the first quarter and paced through the bowels of the Southern Stand and didn’t return until there was five minutes to go.


Apparently she missed a great game. Carlton won and Michael Tuck wore a sleeveless jumper!


This sport makes her feel something that other things do not. It is obsession, where she’s fully entrenched in that very moment to feel the way she does.


And I understand my Nona. Her love for the Blues is embedded into her soul. It’s where she grew up, where she spent every weekend at the Canada Hotel at the top end of Swanston Street, which her parents owned.


Carlton is more than just a club, it’s the emblem embedded into her heart, and the passion she passes onto her kids, who pass it down to us. Carlton is woven into the fabric of her existence.


Aunty Penny takes after her mother. She was born at the start of the Carlton dynasty and has lived through 8 premierships. 8 wonderful years that will always mean something to her. 8 seasons that she will hold above the rest forever. But those 8 years are just part of the momentous life of the Carlton Football Club that she lives proudly.


She was raised in the Carlton dynasty of expectation…never hope.


She travelled to each game with an elite expectation of her team. It was never ‘I hope we win’, it was always ‘by how much’.


Her heroes were raised alongside her at Princes Park. They were the icons that created the person she would become and the person she would be forever.


She grew up with Alex Jesaulenko, watched him take THAT famous mark in the 1970 Grand Final win. She idolised Wayne Harmes and his 1979 Grand Final boundary tap, living every moment with him.


She was there, with every one of her heroes. With the ‘Mosquito Fleet’ in 79/81/82, with Koutoufides in the 1999 Preliminary Final, and David Rhys-Jones’ Norm Smith Medal win in 1987.


She was there with “Big Nick”, John Nicholls as he held the ball aloft at Princes Park for the last time on that emotional day in May 2005.


These were her moments, the ones she still talks about today and will for years to come.


Isn’t it fascinating how families pass down not just genetics, but also the passions they have forged through time and generations. From my great grandparents, to my grandmother, to my Aunty. From my grandfather, to my Dad, to me. A passion like this is a gift that each generation carries with them through the best and worst of their club – their family.


Families create bonds like no other because of this sport, because of their clubs. It’s in the blood, it’s passed down, like a genetic trait.


My Grandmother, my Aunty. They’re bound to this club. To the cold nights at Princes Park, and the sea of navy blue. They’re bound to the triumphs and losses and passion forged through time and through generations.


They’re stuck together with old knitted jumpers and duffle coats, and spectacular football moments etched into their memories.


They grew up hanging over the picket fence and running on to the ground at the final siren to pat their idols on the back as they walked off.


Their religion is their football club, and Carlton is their home.

About Anna Pavlou

Anna 'Pav' Pavlou is a current student and a born and bred Melburnian who has a passion for sport and sharing people's stories. She is an intern journalist for AFL VICTORIA and writes for The Roar, the Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA Media), the Mongrel Punt and is a Melbourne Cricket Club contributor. She also appears on North West FM 98.9 radio show. Most winter weekends you'll find her down at the Ross Gregory Oval in St Kilda, supporting Power House FC, who play in Division 2 in the VAFA. She works as the Division 2 writer for the VAFA. She completed work experience with 3AW Radio and has been published in The Age as well as with Carlton FC and Geelong Cats. Check out her website below for more sport pieces!


  1. John Butler says

    Ana, that’s an excellent examination of what footy clubs can mean to people. Great understanding.

    It’s also as good an explanation of why this website exists as I’ve read.

    Really top stuff.

  2. Penny Pavlou says

    What a fabulous piece of writing Anna. I think it captures exactly what it was like growing up Pavlou and following the game – why I became a Carlton supporter and your Dad a Cat. Nona and Papou had a great influence on us all. I am very proud of you and your wonderful writing. Thank you for this piece. Love Aunty Penny x

  3. Anna Jesaulenko, you beauty! Such a great piece. As a blue bagger I fully appreciate the passion and excitement that football brings. I still can’t believe your dad didn’t give you the option to fully commit to the navy blues like your aunty and grandmother did. There’s always room to get on the navy blue train…..well done

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