Depths of Winter

I like to watch people. On this particular occasion I find myself standing behind a couple headed towards our great sporting Mecca, the MCG. The details of the event taking place there are unimportant to the story, however I do recall a game of cricket was about to take place this day. I watched as the couple made their way across the Jolimont bridge and through the cark park towards the members’ entrance. The man, I estimated, was in his early fifties, the girl in her mid teens. Their resemblance in appearance and gait suggested to me their relationship was father and daughter. How lovely I thought. That they spoke little to each other as they walked in no way detracted from their interaction, it seemed. Theirs was a relationship of shared experience, the type that transcends the embellishments of idle chatter, I had decided. The memories of such experiences, would, no doubt out-last the ritual itself. How lovely indeed.

I have a friend. We go back a fair way. Princes Park in the early eighties, Waverley in the nineties and now the MCG, where we are members. I suspect my friend has always understood the value of shared experience in a way that was not always apparent to me. We often relive memories of these experiences; the one liners, the grog and the laughter. As a Hawthorn supporter there was plenty for him to rejoice. When I listen to my friend recall some of the shenanigans we got mixed up in, I get the feeling the game itself, in his eyes, was inconsequential. For him, Nar Nar Goon fourths may have been playing Wangaratta Rovers and the experience would have been no less significant. And of course he is right. I can remember the moments of which he speaks as if they were yesterday, but I cannot tell you who played well that day or what the final scores were.

We are both middle aged now. He has two boys who are the centre of his universe. He has been particularly attentive in cultivating their football allegiances; he put them on the MCC membership waiting list when they were born and has adorned them with all things brown and gold along the way. In recent times we have discussed our MCC memberships, principally, from a value for money perspective. My friend has always held the line he would like to retain his in the hope that it will provide a vehicle for he and his sons to share their free time much in the same manner of the man and his daughter going to cricket together. I acknowledge his reasoning; whilst not having children myself, the search for common interests with my teenage niece, a sports infidel, continues to elude.

I attended a dinner party at my friend’s house recently. He had bad news. His younger son had changed allegiances, black and white would be the colours for him. Ouch. An impressionable lad is vulnerable to brainwashing. I was nearly gotten to by my Aunty, a Collingwood supporter no less, when I stayed with her whilst Mum was having my brother. My Aunty knitted me a Collingwood jumper and sent me home with a copy of My World of Football by Peter McKenna. I like to claim my precocious insight snapped me out of this darkest of hours – in truth I have no recollection of how I came to settle on Hawthorn. My friend puts the blame for his son’s decision to go to the dark side squarely on the shoulders of his estranged wife’s boyfriend. Double ouch.

For those who roll their eyes when a parent laments the decision of the child to swap sides, I say, you have missed the point. As my friend knows only too well, it was never about the game. For him a bridge may have been broken. A bridge that affords the time together of their choosing. His elder boy is sticking fat and is probably past the age of outside influence. As for his younger son, there’s always cricket.


  1. Nice mark

    I grew up in a Carlton family, my earliest footy memories are at Princes park. dad wasn’t a big footy fan but took me as I think he felt he should. I switched to the Tigers at the end of 73, aged 6 and stayed. I only discovered recently it caused issues in the family, probably more for Grandparents but maybe a bit to dad.

    I let my son choose his team, and like you he chose the Hawks and he and I can’t recall why (they were not successful, early 2000s when he did so). He is of course happy now. I love going with him, less stress watching the hawks play and him happy. Means we go a bit and still have an annual grudge match.

    However, like your story and what I did, had he started with the Tigers and then switched, it would have probably hurt. Maybe I broke a bridge with my Dad. At least I have one with my boy


  2. Grant Fraser says

    It could be worse. Try being a Hawks Dad who has a son barracking for the “Not Comfortably Satisfieds”. Oh, the shame!

  3. When my son was about four his grandmother (on his mothers side) sent him a collingwood jumper.
    God I used to love the old open fires.

    Go saints

  4. Steve Hodder says

    A touchy subject beautifully put! My old man was Collingwood, mum Essendon but it was my oldest brother who chose Hawthorn. The other five siblings dutifully followed him and then mum switched to the Mighty Mayblooms. Dad stayed Collingwood but spent the next thirty years with his best mate on the boundary at the local footy. It was the only place he could find sanctuary.


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