If you want footy, you’ve got it

Footy is back.  It never really goes away.  That’s the beauty of modern football.  The off season is no longer mute.  Players start training in October.  The draft is held in November.  The pre-season circus begins in summer.


Football is culture, all year round.  Most of us didn’t choose football, it chose us.  It was culture before we were old enough to remember.


We had no chance at resisting.  Nor did we want to.  Footy was culture, as sport was culture.


As round one draws near, cricket, another cultural delight, is fast fading into memory.  We should not forget cricket, just because its football season.  The Ashes were absorbing and satisfying, the series in South Africa more so.


It is important to remember that without cricket, AFL football would not exist.  It was invented as an aside, a game to keep the cricketers fit during winter.


Amazing then, how some people follow football but shun cricket.  They regard Test matches as boring.  I have no interest in asking why.  I just feel sorry for them.


Cricket Australia couldn’t have scheduled their itinerary any better.  The third and final Test against South Africa ended a week ago.  Our glorious summer of cricket is over just in time for football.


One culture blends seamlessly into another, just as we slip seamlessly from one sport to the other.  This is our sporting life.


During the Ashes, when Michael Clarke told Jimmy Anderson to get ready for a broken fucking arm, it was more a futile warning than an idle threat.  In the aftermath, Clarke was vilified and fined for not playing within the spirit of cricket.


This highlights a vast difference between football and cricket.


Playing football doesn’t require threat of broken bones.  The game can be played in its intended spirit and injuries like busted jaws, ribs, clavicles, legs and wrists remain common.


Such is football.  Injuries are collateral damage.  Every footballer gets a shot.  If you want blood and broken bones, you’ve got it.


Of course, injuries don’t make the game enjoyable.  We do not watch for injury.  We watch for glory, and every gifted footballer who succumbs to misfortune is missed.


In a few days, footy is back.  This year is a cinch to be better than the last.


Aside from Essendon’s drug scandal it was hardly all fun.  Drugs dominated footy like they dominate lives.


Two people became the face of the crisis.  James Hird got suspended for a year.  Andrew Demetriou got his man and club and enhanced his reputation.


It proved remarkable theatre.


That didn’t extend into September.  The grand final was hardly a classic.  In hindsight, Fremantle was never going to win and Hawthorn deserved their premiership.


The off-season also provided enough sordid entertainment to remind everyone that football never truly ends and the players don’t go into hibernation.


West Coast’s Murray Newman is in jail.  Collingwood’s Marley Williams must be worried for his future.  Both of them were found guilty of grievous bodily harm.


Twenty years ago, a footballer might’ve been warned off an offence like that with a fine and a caution.  Now no one is so lucky.  One punch can kill, and the might is right approach, a king hit, has now become a coward punch.


People who punch others in the face go to jail.  Society isn’t getting soft.


Other players are concerned for their future, too.  They might be injured, unfit or struggling for form.  Age might’ve slowed the body.


Coaches are worrying about everything.  They are only as good as their list.  The pressure is immense.  It will be a hard year for every coach.


The fans a worried too.  Expectation is palpable, as is the hopelessness.  The fans are in an insane state of inertia.  They cannot influence the contest or result.  They cannot coach or offer words of support at half time.  Fans don’t miss targets or drop marks.  They do not miss shots at goal.


The errors of a club and players are not the fault of a fan.


Involvement, for the fan, is voyeuristic only.  It is why we are so affected by football.  We can do nothing but watch.  For some that is worth the price of a club membership.


It is round one, that most glorious of beginnings.  Every club starts clean.  There are premiership fancies, but right now every club fancies themselves.


We all crave a premiership and expect a miracle.  Nothing less, before round one, is acceptable.  Fantasy rules football.  We all have them.  We all love them.  Our fantasy continues throughout the season, such is the encompassing nature of football.


The first round will hurt a lot of people.  Losing is a great leveller.  Four points is worth a lot of heartache.  The winners may love round one but there is no reprieve.  Winning and losing create the same expectation, where nothing but winning is acceptable.


We live for our team.  Our weekends are defined by football.  If the team aches, we ache.  Victory is uplifting.  We share our emotions with family and friends whether they care or not.


Such is football, our culture.



About Matt Watson

My name is Matt Watson, avid AFL, cricket and boxing fan. Since 2005 I’ve been employed as a journalist, but I’ve been writing about sport for more than a decade. In that time I’ve interviewed legends of sport and the unsung heroes who so often don’t command the headlines. The Ramble, as you will find among the pages of this website, is an exhaustive, unbiased, non-commercial analysis of sport and life. I believe there is always more to the story. If you love sport like I do, you will love the Ramble…


  1. “Andrew Demetriou ….. enhanced his reputation.”
    As what????
    a) Fearless defender of the public good.
    b) Deal doing egomaniac looking after commercial interests and his mates.
    c) Chief executioner flaying transgressors with feathers. (After all Hird’s $1m payout is only half the Great Helmsman’s 2013 bonus payout).

  2. Can feel the stirring today.

  3. I can almost smell the liniment in the 3183

  4. Peter Schumacher says

    I want it alright, enough of these pointless NAB things, let’ s get on with it. Your writing expressed a lot of where I am coming from.

  5. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Andy D enhanced his reputation Iron Mike you can’t be serious ! Apart from that bit of lunacy good article

Leave a Comment