Football! Tragic! Or Vice Versa

Football! Tragic!  Or Vice Versa?


I looked in the mirror at my greying locks and dappled beard and yearned for a simpler earlier time before peak stuff and 200 foot tvs that need an extra sound bar to hear what is going on. Or perhaps it’s part of my hearing decline in line with my greying noggin.


In my moment of bathroom solitude my mind wandered back to a simpler time:


  • Suburban grounds
  • Saturday 2.15 start for all the games
  • Races at Flemington listened to on the tranny. (not a metaphor – a real transistor radio)
  • Saturday night trots and lotto on tv with Mike and Mary Hardy
  • The 19th man was either on or off.
  • One field umpire dressed in white.
  • When footy was a side gig to their day job and I’d rarely heard of an ACL injury.
  • A time before ‘Monday’s Experts’ was a real thing in the workplace and not a song.
  • A time before Gary Lyon picked up Bill Brownless’s wallet and forgot to return it or before Carey blew up the shinboners in a dunny at a party.


And then I shook it off and headed for the train to attend my first game of the year.  Level 2 at Docklands/Etihad/Telstra dome/Marvel Stadium with tickets thanks to Alex, my local real-estate agent, at Ray White Brunswick. (For all your real estate needs in the northern suburbs :-)


But I was disheartened.  Not only because the Dogs lost to the Gold Coast.  Not only because of their poor kicking in front of goal. (Note to players – it’s your only job!)  No, there was a kid about 10 next to me in full Dog’s kit sitting with his dad, watching his iPad the whole time.  When I screamed at the first umpiring mistake, I thought the little tacker was going to launch from his seat.  (My wife describes it more as a tribal roar than a scream) But I must scream you see.  I can no longer call the umpire ‘a horrible little white germ’, or ‘blind’ or in any way mentally impaired or any of a hundred sledges I have heard directed at the umpires over the years.  Even ‘miss miss cockies piss’ is maligned and frowned upon in the current age.


So I scream “ball” at every opportunity. I do this because ‘in the back’ doesn’t seem to be a rule anymore and this is the only PC term I have left in my football mental health arsenal.


VFL football, Marngrook, Aussie rules, call it what you will – it was such a beautiful game with a few simple rules, played at the same time each week with a replay on Saturday night.


At half time I sat there with my plastic cup full of overpriced beer and lamenting for a time before my hair turned grey, when I knew the rules and the game that was played for club honor, grass roots supporters and true believers and not for the needs of a television station.


Suddenly Sunday afternoon’s loss to the Suns fades and sees us backing up to Collingwood at the `G on Friday night after a 5 day turnaround. We are on the big stage, I can’t go, won’t go.  I watch it from the comfort of my lounge, just as God, the AFL and Channel 7 intended.


And I am bored out of my skull watching 90 uncontested marks in the first quarter.  But then, hope; a sign that a higher power exists.  Hayden Crozier takes a grab for the ages.  And thanks to the magic of television (with apologies to Bruce Gyngell) he flies and marks, and again from another angle and again from another angle.  And I’m thinking Aaron Naughton has watched the footage at half time because he comes out in the third like a raging bull and flies over packs like a superman and I cheer.  It doesn’t matter (too much) that we go down to the Pies (can I even say that these days? I never know.  When I lived in W.A. Eagles supporters would chant they won a lot of games because they had big Cox and I’m guessing the Pies could legitimately use that line too. But I digress)


We had a go, and sometimes that’s all that matters. And from the privacy of my lounge room I offended no one.


As a post script – I heard James Brayshaw and Damian Barret on the radio discussing the state of the game.  Evidently it was in the fourth round last year that channel Seven approached the AFL to change the rules to get more scoring happening – hence 666 and the run out from full back rule.  Last year at this time, after the first three rounds, the average score was 84 points per game.  This year, it is 80 points average per game.  Ah the beautiful game.  Keep tweaking the rules AFL and before you know it we will eventually score the same as soccer.



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  1. Any relation to Gordon Agars, the chronicler of the Blacks? Search for “Gordon Agars” on the Almanac site.

  2. Here are the Gorodon Agars chronicles about 1986. Worth reading them from start to finish, so scroll down to find the first one.

  3. Colin Ritchie says

    One of the benefits of getting older, or for that matter, being old, is that you can look back and reflect upon a time with hindsight, wisdom and the acknowledge of having been there and done that. Footy has certainly changed, for the better I don’t know but for many of us we have fond memories of the good old days of footy before money took over.

  4. Shane John Backx says

    The game is well and truly stuffed.

  5. I feel your pain Richard. We sound like a similar vintage. I am congenitally required to rant. rave and behave like a lunatic at the footy. Keeps me sane. I call the umpires Scott, Bill and Pauline.

  6. I well remember being at the local footy (SANFL) one day and was intrigued at one fan near me constantly calling out “bat”. Finally I asked him what does bat signify. He told me he was sick of everyone screaming “Ball” for “holding the ball”, so he decided to yell “bat’.

    Anyway, whilst I do enjoy some games ( I admit to enjoying the way the Power played last night even though I hoped Eagles would win). However some games are quite appalling e.g. last week’s Kangaroos v Crows (both teams were horrible skill wise)

    Even though we now have the 666 rule, there is still too much flooding (there is no longer any set positions in the game anymore), reminding me of primary school footy. Sometimes I fully expect to see Noah’s arc on the field.

    Anyway, that’s my rant for today, I’m still, as Dusty Springfield sang all those years ago, “Wishin’ and Hopin’ the Crows put in a far better performance tomorrow but I’m not holding my breath.

    PS all the local Advertiser experts are tipping against the Suns – why, Let’s hope they’re finally right..

  7. I find behaving like a lunatic at the footy saves me so much money on visiting a mental health professional. There is much theraputic value in the primal scream and I believe it could good for the nation as a whole if we embraced the opportunity, instead of spending too much time outraged at the state of play in other areas of life where we also have no control.

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