Four Quarters of Psychosis by David Enticott

First Quarter. Transference, n. “Unconscious transferring of one’s hopes, desires, fears etc. from one person to another” (The Chambers Dictionary).

Thomas has been looking forward to the game all week. At five years of age he is making his AFL debut. Like all good Enticotts he barracks for Collingwood. The morning starts with Auskick where he manages to accrue three hard won possessions. His team wins. The omens are good. Thomas stays in his Magpies’ jumper and we head to Ivanhoe Station. We are going to the footy with Chris (another Baptist Minister) and Clare (a Grade One veteran who has already been to three AFL games). On the train Clare gives Thomas some tips.

After ten minutes of the first quarter Clare is praying for a Collingwood goal. She has clearly seen this team play before. At just seven years of age she has a healthy sense of perspective. She knows that divine assistance is the only hope. Thomas is yelling at the top of his voice, he is his father’s son. “Collingwood you’re hopeless, why don’t you try and win or something, what is wrong with you guys!” It could have been me at Victoria Park twenty-five years ago. I don’t know if this transferred allegiance is a good thing. At quarter time we are thirteen points behind.

Second Quarter. Depression, n. “A state of deep dejection and a feeling of helplessness.”

By ten minutes into the second quarter Thomas wants to go home. I can’t blame him. Collingwood are being thrashed by last year’s wooden-spooners. Chris and I start to talk about Russian politics and literature. Russia, on the other side of the world, seems like the perfect topic of conversation. Clare is still praying against Demons- slowly it seems that her injunctions are starting to work. By half time we are undeservedly ahead. Players like Medhurst, Shaw and the debutant Beams are working their way into the game. Bate, Green, Jones and Miller are all playing well for Melbourne.

Third Quarter. Persecution Complex, n. “A morbid fear that one is being plotted against by other people.”

At half time the free kick count is running in Melbourne’s favour. It’s the second week in a row that Collingwood supporters sense that we seem to be getting a tough run from the men in the yellow shirts. In the third quarter Melbourne receive a few more fifty-fifty decisions. It sends the supporters around us into a state of momentary madness. Thomas is incessant . . . “Why do the Umpires hate us so much Dad?” How do explain such mysteries to a five year old with high hopes? You can’t . . . so I try for the next best thing- distraction. I decide to buy him some Chips and Coke to keep him quiet. It works for a few minutes.

On the scoreboard we run away with the game but it’s hard work. Heaven help us against Geelong next week. We’ll need more people than Clare to pray for a Collingwood victory. We might all have to fast for a week. Even a Papal Bull may not be enough.

Fourth Quarter. Delusion, n. “A false belief, error.”

In the end we win by more than eight goals. Thomas is happy, although he does look a bit under the weather. He has managed to digest a bar of chocolate, a bag of popcorn, a can of Coke and a packet of chips throughout the afternoon. I have no idea about how I will explain this to his mother, but at least Clare’s faith in divine intervention has been restored. All in all it’s not a bad afternoon.

Downstairs we see Joffa and his legion of followers gather outside the gate. They are singing the club song in full voice. Good Old Collingwood echoes around the stadium. I’d love to join Joffa and the Cheer Squad, I’d love to hold Thomas aloft in the throng and to rejoice triumphantly . . . but deep down I am a realist. I am trying to hold any delusions of grandeur at bay. Perhaps I know something that the other Collingwood supporters around me seem blissfully unaware of- we’re not really that good and we’re certainly not worth singing about.

David Enticott is the one eyed Minister of the Rosanna Baptist Church.

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