It’s full time (in the football stadium of my heart)


In the Football Stadium of my heart, as the Coodabeens season grand finale laments.

And this time it really is over. The siren blew on this increasingly irksome love affair about 30 minutes ago when Carlton, hot-shot new legendary coach, Zeppelins of pre-season hype and all, crashed out of the 2013 season with a disgraceful loss to the Western Bulldogs, whose top-range projections for the year weren’t much less banal and anodyne than improving and being competitive. I am not angry – Carlton’s capacity to arouse anger zeroed out years ago – just irritated and bored. I have better use for my time, my money and my emotional energy and if not, I need to urgently find some.

They had been playing catch-up, with various degrees of success, since the end of the Elliott era, and of course the move away from Princes Park had not helped a lot. The 2011 season had been the couple of opportunist goals in time-on in the third quarter that sent the team into the huddle with momentum and renewed hope, recalling the 1981 Grand Final, but 2012 was the first ten minutes of the last quarter in 1969 – when it was all Carlton could do stay in range as time slowly ran out. The soft, stupidly-conceded goal which removed any possibility of victory was the Ratten fiasco, the preceding loss to Gold Coast merely the 50-metre penalty that made it a certainty.

Actually my interest in the 2012 season had always been fairly negligible. I spent most of it overseas, taking five minutes each week to follow the results on the net, and found the lack of expectation that I need give a hoot about the AFL to be very liberating. Arriving home at about 8.30 in the evening the day after the Olympic opening ceremony, after unpacking my case, checking the mail and returning my bedroom to a state where it could be lived in, the last thing I did before succumbing to the jetlag was to plug Foxtel back in. It was on the Footy Channel, and Carlton were 10 points behind Richmond and playing like garbage. I had been sure the game wasn’t on till Sunday.

Nothing could have rammed home the ‘your holiday’s over, welcome back to the usual crap’ more brutally. And the fact that Carlton subsequently came back to win that match made no difference whatsoever.

Am I the only one who’s sick of footy by the time the Sunday twilight game starts each week? Do others no longer enjoy the ‘passion’ of a football crowd, not hearing ‘passion’ but tiresome whinging, scapegoating, schadenfreude and mob noise? The summer AFL set piece ‘events’ such as the draft, the trade period and the release of the draw, and the surrounding hot-air by the ‘hard core’ who need everyone to know how ‘in the loop’ they are, the AFL’s constant need for acknowledgement of its place (always reminding me of Mimi on the Drew Carey Show), all add up to a sense of ubiquity, always hanging around demanding attention. I could cop the overkill and the unending noise, maybe, if my team was any good. But otherwise…..


  1. Steve Baker says

    Nope, it’s not just you.

    It might just be my twitter feed, but Dawson Simpson wrecks his knee and in no time at all I see tweets from various numpties sooking about the impact of his injury on their Dream Team points. There was a time when people’s first thoughts might have been to wish him a speedy recovery.

    To paraphrase Allan Jeans, modern-day AFL is obsessed with the sizzle, while the sausage is piss-poor

  2. Phil Dimitriadis says

    I’m with you Rick. Part of the problem is that the AFL and most of the footy media communicates to the fans as if we are 12 year olds. I’m sick of hearing words like ‘ramifications’ and ‘repercussions’ in virtually every footy article or conversation.

    Footy used to be a weekly treat now it gorges us with junk 24/7…if we let it.
    Having said that, would you be feeling the same if the Blues were on top of the ladder with a real chance to win the flag? Hmmm…

  3. I look forward to summer (here in the US) footy weekends and late nights watching live streamed games. But it’s out of the daily routine, and at the end of my second-shift-ish workday past midnight. And I’ve only been a serious fan a bit more than a decade and able to watch whatever I want for about 3-4 years. Even with the Saints 3-16, I can and will look forward to Crows-Kangaroos tonight, for example.
    But I can see your point. I lose interest in baseball late in the season if the Red Sox aren’t good or the NBA totally if the Pacers aren’t good. And supporting Carlton as of late has to be completely maddening.

  4. Michael Viljoen says

    You make some fair points, some worthy observations. But Carlton supporters are too often heard complaining that the world isn’t the right way up when they aren’t in the finals.

    Our worst nightmare could be Essendon getting rubbed out of this year’s finals and ninth placed Carlton coming in by default, with Mr Grumpy getting to coach finals.

    What if you look at some of the positives of the game. Last year’s Grand Final was a cracker of a match. And even the female goal umpire participating is a pointer to the game’s wide appeal. Not everything is on the slide.

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