How to Watch Footy, part three

Vin Maskell

Game: Williamstown versus Mazenod, FIDA (Football Integration Development Association). Practice match for the seniors, Sunday 7 April, 11am. Fearon Reserve, Williamstown.

Pre-match: regular Sunday morning kick-to-kick at the Fearon.

Viewing spot: right between the goalposts at the Botanic Gardens end.

Responsibilities: waving the white flags (for the third time ever).

Conditions: warm for April. Mid-20s. Northerly breeze.

Dress code: My kick-to-kick gear: black shorts, faded white T-shirt, footy boots (no socks) and blue cricket cap. Very stylish. Too warm for the white coat.

Distractions: the beach is about four big torpedoes away.

First quarter: Despite having the wind in the first quarter Mazenod (the Panthers) can only notch one goal at the Gardens end, meaning I’ve got plenty of time to ponder the heat and the beach and the players. Some are as skinny as goalposts, some are as wide as the goalsquare. (The number 44 is very good for a player with girth, as is the nickname Burger.)  Some wear soft helmets, some wear glasses. Some hold back, others are more than willing to get involved. (Two are a bit too willing later in the game and are sent off by  Col, the lone umpire.)

Second quarter: Williamstown keep me busy, kicking 2.7 for the quarter. Mazenod show some system when kicking out to the beach side of the ground but can’t get the ball past the wing. Having no interchange players is taking its toll on the Panthers. The short quarters – 15 minutes – bring some relief.

Half-time reflections: Can you get sunburnt in April? (I didn’t.) Is that sunblock I can smell, mixed in with liniment, and the scent of Fearon grass? (Yes.)  Am I heading for a headache? (Yes.) Have I got time for a half-time dip? (No.)

Third quarter: The Seagulls keep piling on the goals, six straight, down the other end of the ground. (Technically I probably should have changed ends at half-time with the other goal umpire but he didn’t seem too fussed.) When the Panthers manage to get the ball on the forward line I’m almost urging them on, not because I want to wave the flags with a flourish but because I want the visitors to enjoy the game, as much as you can enjoy a game when you’re hot, undermanned and a long way behind.

Fourth quarter: Too busy to ponder anything but the action right in front of me as the Seagulls keep me moving with 6.4 for the quarter. Four of the goals fly well overhead and I find myself staring into the sun, blinded by the light. On two occasions I’m nearly knocked over by on-the-run kicks from five metres out.

Final siren reflections: In a practice game, does the margin really matter? Are there really winners and losers? Or just 36 or so very keen players?

Votes: Both teams 3, Coaches and support staff 3, Families and friends 3.

Post-match: dip at Williamstown beach followed by afternoon nap at home.

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. nice one again Vin. why no socks? footy boots and no socks sounds like crazy talk.

  2. Thanks. Crazy talk indeed. It was only ‘no socks’ because my blue, black and white footy socks (a Christmas present) were hot and sweaty from the 9.30am kick-to-kick. Probably should have gone barefoot.

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