Hope is where the heart is

What’s happening to Blues supporters?

On my recent holiday in Yarrawonga I was surrounded by them. They were so numerous that if I was off target with a mossie swat or a fly swipe I was in danger of hitting one. Indeed this is the case every year as the same families make the trek up the Hume Highway each January for a summer hiatus.

I know them well. In early years they wore their footy jumpers around the pool as if it was required attire. Like Superman having his underpants on the outside it portrayed supreme confidence even if it displayed a lack of fashion sense. They’re knowledgeable about their footy. They can tell you exactly how far Wayne Harmes was INSIDE the boundary line in 1979 and how far UNDER the salary cap they were in 1995. They recall great Carlton victories (and they’ve been plenty of them) with misty eyes and growing midriffs. Each reminiscence about a Carlton premiership is followed by a ceremonial swig from the stubby. They’re great blokes.

We spend hours in quiet banter, we do group bombs in the pool to impress our disinterested wives, we stand around the barbeque like Swiss Guards at the Basilica (albeit with board shorts on and nothing more), and we watch each other grow old.

But they’ve changed. The last sixteen years without a flag, nay without barely a hint of a flag, has begun to wear them down. Their swagger is being shaken apart like the bolts on the Westgate Bridge. The “pig’s arse” attitude is now more of a “ahem, excuse me”, and the “Go Blues” that was once full of bravado and expectation now sounds more like “Go Blues?”; a pathetic plea full of that invisible evil that resides in the hearts of Saints fans and Doggies supporters and, until 2007, Cats barrackers – hope.

Who would have thought in the early eighties when the Dominator and the Terminator and the Penetrator were strutting around the MCG on a regular basis that it would take but two decades for the Blues to be hoping for another flag. HOPING! Oh how drab and un-Carlton.

I remember going to Yarrawonga in January of 1996, just a few months after the Cats had copped an almighty hiding from Diesel Williams and his cohorts on the last Saturday of September, 1995. I knew my Geelong allegiances would be battered; and battered they were. It was true Carlton stuff; arrogant, belligerent, and confrontational. It was great. It was Carlton. I knew Geelong was crap. At that point I’d given up on the notion that I would experience premiership glory. The Carlton jumpers and singlets were out in numbers around the pool, premiership stubby holders abounded, smiles were there; plastered on. I envied them because they didn’t have hope they had belief and belief is infectious. They anticipated greatness in the following seasons. Hope was for suckers.

But now they hope. They hope like a snail crossing open country.  Sitting under the trees this year in Yarrawonga, on the banks of Lake Mulwala just down river from Bundalong, and nursing a cold Crownie until its inevitable demise, the Blues supporters let the word “hope” see daylight regularly.

“I’d hope to see the Blues top four this year.”

“I hope we make a Preliminary Final at least!”

“I just hope our forwards can stand up.”

I’ve never heard it used so often in this company. I suspect this was a kind of therapy for them; a  Carlton group hug. Or was it a prayer to the footy gods? Like the ancients gave up lambs and gold and valuables to their deities the Blues supporters may be offering up hubris at the sacrificial altar.

The 2012 season still holds its secrets firmly to its chest. The ring-a-ring-o’rosy NAB Cup will reveal little. I reckon the Blues supporters will find 2012 agonizing. And I’m speaking from experience. With each passing week, with each victory, with each peg on the ladder reached and passed in 2007, my hope grew like heart cancer. I didn’t let it go until Cameron Mooney kicked the first goal in the third quarter of the 2007 Grand Final to put Geelong 58 points up. Then I hurled it at the wall with glee and watched it smash like an apple against a swinging cricket bat. Get stuffed hope!

I reckon the Blues can make the big one in 2012 but it doesn’t matter what I think. Blues fans will be filled with hope. FILLED with it. And they’ll hate it.

About Damian O'Donnell

I'm passionate about breathing. And you should always chase your passions. If I read one more thing about what defines leadership I think I'll go crazy. Go Cats.


  1. John Butler says

    Nice attempt at a psych out Dips.

    Little early to be sounding so worried isn’t it?

  2. Am not so much filled with ‘hope’, more a sense of contentment that the natural order is about to be restored.

  3. John Butler says

    Is the phrase ‘manifest sense of destiny’ applicable here Litza?

  4. I’d say so, yes.

  5. Dips,

    “Tell ’em they’re dreaming”. Judd’s shoulder is a serious impediment to their flag(ing) hopes. They are playing their usual game of deceptionwith respect to his injury. His, already delicate, shoulder will get a bigger work over by all clubs this year than the shreaded wheatmeal biscuit little Eve Harms was chewing on on Wednesday arvo

    No Judd, no Carlton. Did you get that. No Judd no Carlton. I will repeat it just to make sure you get it. No Judd, no Carlton.

    Sorry JB. It appears I may have buried the hatchet (sort of) with one of the movers and shakers within the black and white knackery so I now have to move on to youse blues.

  6. JB and Litza – nice try at bravado but there’s something missing. As Steve McQueen said in the great movie Papillon, “Its not there. Its just not there.”

  7. John Butler says

    Well Dips, coming from the home of ‘The Greatness’, I suppose you’d know.

    Phantom, word got back to me about that shameless flirtation. All I can say is, dance with the devil…

  8. It was shameless SHIRT-ation JB.

  9. Dips, I see absolutely nothing in this which might invite the gods to alter history’s path. It’s just the record of one of life’s astute observers. You. So much can be gleaned when wearing board shorts at Yarrawonga.

    One of the things that contemporary varsity humanities scholarship teaches is the notion that there is not a single defined masculinity, but that there are many masculinities, and the interesting thing is to try to define them and their impact on identity.

    I think the Carlton masculinity has changed considerably. If David Glascott were at Carlton now he’d be the most robust bloke on the list by the length of Princes Park.

  10. *coughs*… Mitch Robinson

  11. Is that the No 12 Litza? Is he a bit of a fringe player? The one who came good in the losing side in Perth in the finals? Perhaps they should think about playing him more often, and adding him to the leadership group.

  12. John Butler says

    JTH, just because the Cats have moved upmarket into Louis Vuitton territory doesn’t mean the past is entirely forgotten.

  13. Litza, I should also concede that Dips piece is about Blues supporters, not players. Hence my comment was trying to do nothing more than illustrate the notion of many masculinities. It was just an example which sprung to mind.

    But I think he argued that case quite well. There is something in it.

    As the apotheosis of in-your-prime Carlton-ness, your intrigue with the thirty-something shrink at the Newry has always resonated. (Do you have her number?)

  14. JB, notes for my new book on footy start with DON’T RE-WRITE HISTORY in big black texta letters.

  15. Dips,

    the bait would have been just fine, you didn’t have to spread so much burley. It is unfair when they are so hungry.

  16. History is like a piece of lace: it’s held together by threads, but there a lot of holes in it. Most of our recorded history is through the eyes of the victors…

  17. JTH

    Nothing from the thirty-something shrink… am staring to think it may have been a drunken illusion and I was having a conversation with my sub-conscious self.

    PS: I don’t think they should add Mitch to the leadership group for reason associated with psychology. That is to say, he is [email protected] nuts!

  18. Sorry Carlton peeps but you can’t win the flag…
    It would put my health at great risk.

  19. jth, history is like a piece of lace: held together by threads, but full of holes. Most of recorded history is through the eyes of the victors and rulers…

  20. Something’s gone wrong somewhere. I’m posting stuff at 1:16pm on Friday, the 10th of Feb, and there are other posts being made that are being tagged as late evening Friday already.

    For instance, Phantom’s post at 10:18pm! What the?! It’s only 1:18pm now!

  21. Damo Balassone says

    Totally agree with the premise here Dips: when you have hope, and a Premiership window, you are also in Nervous Breakdown territory – the thought of losing the Big One causes this. And worse still, Hamish McLaughlin could be commentating.

  22. Damo Balassone says

    Totally agree with the premise here Dips: when you have hope, and a Premiership window, you are also in Nervous Breakdown territory – the thought of losing the Big One to a hated rival causes this. And worse still Hamish McLaughlin could be commentating.

  23. For someone so breathtakingly anodyne, Hamish McLachlan sure does annoy a lot of people, myself included.

  24. John Butler says

    And the prize goes to Pete for being the first to identify the time problem.

    Now, if he can explain why the timing problem occured…

  25. I think the relevence of poor timing is that this discussion has Les Bleus about a couple of decades ahead of themselves.

  26. John Butler says

    I dunno. They sound worried to me Litza.

  27. JB, I’m guessing the hosters upgraded a server or database and it had the wrong time zone set.

  28. Carlton fans are still around? I haven’t heard from any of them since that match against West Coast.

  29. Dion
    We are around and have always been around. It just taken some time to gain humility and we are not genetically structured to feel that emotion. Like Daleks we have been rebuilding in a distant planet ready to once more take our rightful place in the football universe. Dips last year I was full of hope.. This year Ive got my strutt working full time

  30. For a change we agree Dips. There are four teams that could win the 2012 flag. They are the same four that played on the penultimate week of the 2011 finals.

    I worry that Collingwood may again be unable to beat Geelong.

    I worry that Hawthorn (in particular) and West Coast may have bridged the gap between them selves and the top two.

    I do not worry about Carlton.

  31. Bleu Mathieu says

    Mes amis et mes ennemis,

    Ceci est notre annee! Le quarantaire de la triomphe de ’72, l’annee pour detruire les Chats comme en ’95.

    Oui, c’est L’heure des Bleus!

    Bien sur on a l’espoir. La fenetre est ouverte! Oui il sera une annee anxieuse!

  32. M. Bleu

    Je ne peux qu’espérer que vous avez tort.

    M. Gigez

  33. Que??

  34. Love it ……. just love it.

    I hate Carlton with a passion, and seeing them lining up to be the Western Bulldogs of the 20teens – good enough to make the finals but never a serious threat – makes me soooo happy. I want them to be eternally hopeful.

    PS Dips – I think the wives are actually UN interested, rather than DIS interested. They are different words wirh different meanings.

    PPS Bleu mathieu has a nick that rhymes in TWO languages. Nice work!!

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