Footy: A few sausage rolls from Fev would make this Lions fan roar

This piece was originally published on the ABC Grandstand Footy Unleashed website in August 2008.

I thought it timely to revisit it given the Kangaroos’ selection of exciting Sudanese prospect Majak Daw in the rookie draft.

Will Daw be any good? Who knows. It doesn’t really matter because he is the first Sudanese player at an AFL club – our great game continues to reflect our diverse community.

The Majok in this story now plays under-16 representative basketball and is still nutty about the Lions. He thinks Fev is the answer.

This football thing

The last three weeks have been hell for Majok Dut, as he rode the ups and downs of following a finals contender, his beloved Brisbane Lions.

Majok is a 13-year-old Sudanese boy who lives in Fitzroy, Melbourne. He fell in love with the Lions because of their Fitzroy past, not their recent premiership dynasty.

He plays under-16 B-grade basketball in nearby Coburg for our team, the Dragons, a club for youth who have recently settled in Australia.

He is very tall, in that Dinka way, but all skin and bone – a fierce gale would send him flying.

Our team is on top, looking ominous. Majok is our sixth man (of six), who pinch-hits off the bench.

His long arms deceive opponents, resulting in numerous steals and intercepts each game.

He is a solid contributor and he sees his basketball as an early stepping stone to a great AFL career.

Coburg basketball stadium has a big TV opposite its kiosk, broadcasting the footy each weekend. Keeps a few punters happy.

Every week, after paying his $2 stadium entry fee, Majok makes a beeline for the TV and stands, as if to attention, watching the great game on Channel Ten.

He is besotted by the oval ball and the way it bounces.

If you cannot see him warming up on court, he will always be in front of the telly watching the footy.

Two weeks ago, the Lions played Hawthorn in Tassie. Crunch game.

At the same time, we faced off against the Mighty Warriors in a top-of-the-table basketball clash. Positions would not change, but it was an important game to win against a fellow championship contender.

We were a man down due to illness.

During our warm-up I didn’t notice Majok leave the court.

The players started saying: “We are only four!”

So I headed for the telly. Sure enough there he was, intently following the first quarter of the footy. Eating a sausage roll.

“Come on, mate,” I said. “Jump ball’s about to happen.”

“But the footy has just started, and the Lions need to win, and I don’t think they will,” he replied. “They need me.”

“So do we. Get on the court. I’ll mind your sausage roll.”

His first half was solid. Niggling defence and a nice reverse lay-up early on.

He seemed semi-focused, but kept asking for a footy score during time-outs. We were level at the half.

I revved up the boys and had a quiet word with the refs. As the second half was about to start, I once again heard the cries, “We are only four!”

Majok. Telly. Lions-Hawks.

Sure enough, there he was. Watching intently.

“Come on Majok, the second half has begun!” I begged.

“Oh, maaaaannnn,” he whined.

The Lions were keeping the Hawks honest in the first half, and the contest was close.

Meanwhile, our own contest was going down the gurgler as the other team put eight points on us in the first two minutes (the refs don’t wait for players who watch the footy, they just start the half).

Majok’s second half was not great, his mind wandering to York Park, as his opposition dribbled and passed their way around him with ease.

We rallied back to a point down and I called a time-out. We huddled.

I urged the players to be patient, slow the game down and think about teamwork. Focus.

Majok asked for a footy score.

The kids laughed. I told him to wait until after our game, this was important.

He then asked for his sausage roll.

Big Chok punched him in the arm and told him to concentrate, forget the stupid football.

Majok went back onto the court reluctantly, his mind firmly on the AKAI 64cm TV and what it might be showing.

We lost our game by three points. The Lions were beaten convincingly.

The following week, Majok did not turn up to basketball.

“Where is he?” I asked Deng, his team-mate.

“He is sick,” said Deng.

“What’s wrong with him?”

“It is nerves –  he worries about this football thing tonight.”

“What football thing?”

“Some match or something. I dunno. He is really into this, what do you call it AFL?”

“The Brisbane-Bulldogs game tonight?”


Majok was so nervous about the Lions overcoming the Bulldogs he couldn’t leave the house. Couldn’t function. Hadn’t eaten lunch apparently.

We scraped home by a few points against the bottom side, despite only having four players.

The Lions overran the Bullies in the last quarter. Both not convincing wins, but wins nonetheless.

At training last Thursday, Majok was all smiles, happy because we had a bye on the weekend.

There was no basketball v football dilemma and the Lions had an easy one against the Blues. Finals were looking likely for the maroon and blue.

He would be watching the Brisbane-Carlton game on TV come Saturday night, probably while eating a pizza, as long as he could do all his homework in time.

He trained like never before with confidence, flare, even a touch of physicality.

I haven’t seen Majok since the Lions blew it. Their season is over.

He will have to wait until 2009, maybe longer, to taste finals football. But it will be sweet when it finally comes.

For him, basketball finals are barely consolation. At least he won’t be a regular at the telly any more during our basketball games.

Not until cricket season anyway.

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