How to Watch Footy, Part 1

Not all games deserve or demand our full attention.

Game: Gold Coast Suns versus St Kilda, Round one, AFL. Saturday 30 March, 6.40pm. Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast.

Viewing venue: Family beach-house, Moggs Creek, Great Ocean Road.

Attendance: Six: myself, plus the good wife Julie; heavily pregnant daughter Hannah and boyfriend Caleb; sons Jesse (20) and Reuben (15).

Pre-match warm-up: morning dip at Fairhaven, short kick-to-kick in the afternoon with Jesse on gravel road.

Game-time activities: Julie, Hannah and Caleb: crocheting for the baby. Jesse: reading The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach.  Reuben: playing games on his phone. Myself: half-hearted attempt at jumbo crossword.

Viewing facilities: clear image on third-hand TV, but very poor sound. We leave the volume low. Radio is a few too many kicks behind the play.

Commentary: mainly by Caleb, a St Kilda fan via Newcastle NSW (thus explaining occasional references – hopefully tongue-in-cheek – to ‘referees’ and ‘penalties’).

Quarter-time: Caleb does the dishes, I call out crossword clues (’12 across. Saint Nick. Eight letters. Starts with R, ends with disappointment’.)

First-half highlights: looking up from the crossword when the volume of the telly rises above a murmur and seeing Ablett kicking or creating a goal, followed by advertisements for The Delltones at the Portland Civic Centre.

Half-time catering: Hot cross buns all around. (When your children work for Baker’s Delight there’s no shortage of bread, buns, croissants, scones…)

Second-half highlights: Ablett. Ablett. Ablett.  And more advertisements for The Delltones. ‘Go on, Dad,’ says Reuben, while still playing a game on his phone, ‘buy yourself and Mum some tickets.’ (I may be about to become a grandfather but that doesn’t mean I’m old enough to remember the first quarter of The Delltones’ playing days, let alone wanting to see them in their twilight years.)

Post-match: I retire to bed with some back-issues of The New Yorker (Bush is still president, Paul Simon is playing a small club on Fifth Avenue). Julie and Hannah take their crocheting to the kitchen. The boys – Caleb, Jesse and Reuben – watch Hot Fuzz courtesy of a USB stick. Apparently the movie is not about bearded footballers.

Votes: G.Ablett 3. G.Ablett  2. G.Ablett  1.

Rising Star:  American author Chad Harbach. The Art of Fielding is one hell of a debut novel. A good mix of sport, sex and campus life; of friendship, loyalty, ambition and disappointment. A mate recommended it to me. I passed it on to Caleb and then Jesse.

Next: Geelong versus Williamstown, Easter Sunday at Spring Creek Reserve, Torquay.

About Vin Maskell

Founder and editor of Stereo Stories, a partner site of The Footy Almanac. Likes a gentle kick of the footy on a Sunday morning, when his back's not playing up. Been known to take a more than keen interest in scoreboards - the older the better.


  1. Vin, magic. I love this about footy season. The way it always hums in the background. I love a Sunday drive home from a family event in Woodend with the family asleep in the car and the ABC on – doesn’t matter who is playing. the drive home in non-footy season is laborious.

  2. Vin

    Fate’s a weird thing. I took the kids to the library this morning to get some books for a weekend away, and saw The Art of Fielding. Looking forward to reading it.

    Love the descriptions of the family watching the game, expecially the pre game kick to kick


  3. Kerrie s says

    A snapshot that has brought some moments in time vividly to life. A great portrait of the way footy just hums on in the background of Australian lives, Vin, poor seaside reception and all.

  4. Stephanie Holt says

    Love the votes. Sad but true.

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