Mum Shows Them How to Barrack

Yesterday, Mum and I went to the ‘G for our favourite winter outing: footy.

Mum is 81, and I am the eldest of her 9 kids. I am 58 and still learning not to get sucked in by annoying oppostion footy barrackers. I use my radio earpiece to block out annoying comments. Is that what everyone does?

Parking was tricky at the ‘G, and I discarded our dodgy Handicap parking sticker, and got one of the last regular parks at the ‘G, close to Punt Road. It would be a much faster getaway spot should the worst happen.

Essendon is the only team we absolutely hate, and we have been watching their return to form this year with angst. We love Carlton, but are concerned that we are not winning enough games. Our expectations are high, we should be mixing it with the big boys now.

It was a beautiful, sunny autumn day, and we had great seats on the wing in the members, close to the Carlton bench. My brother Ian was supposed to sit with us (he still owes me for his reserved seat), but he met an Essendon friend and couldn’t join us. Mum hates it when we bring opposition friends, and blames this particular friend for several of our recent losses to Essendon. Ian knows the rules and kept his distance.

Essendon started like a fire-cracker,  and kicked goals while we manged only 2 pitiful points for the quarter. Essendon players were literally throwing themselves into the fray, so excited are they by their new coaches. Rotten bad luck for them that they got two knee injuries in the first quarter, but Mum reckoned their reckless style of play caused their injuries. I was spewing because I wanted to beat them fair and square.

But with the Dons 4 goals up, their injuries seemed to have the opposite effect: they wanted to win even more for their injured teammates.

Carlton didn’t kick a goal until 10 minutes into the second quarter, and we were pretty frustrated supporters. It was an intense game, and Carlton went in a goal down at half-time. We assumed both teams would be unable to keep up the frenetic pace, and with extra rotations, Carlton should run over them in the second half.

Carlton had more play in the forward line in the 3rd quarter, but kicked inaccurately and went in a point down at 3 quarter time. I think the 3rd quarter is when Dustin Fletcher kicked a mammoth running goal. He’s a nearly 40 year old backman, and that just shouldn’t happen. He did make a mistake in the 4th quarter, allowing me the opprotunity to yell out “you’re a hack Fletcher”, which made me feel a bit better.

During the 3rd quarter I looked at Mum, and noticed she was ashen. She was hating the game, wanting to win so badly. I pointed out to her that it was a ripper game, and reminded her of how much we liked the close ones. Mum & I are made of sterner stuff than my husband, who could barely look at the arena during the 1999 Preliminary Final, but I digress. Mum recovered enough to make some condescending remarks to Bomber supporters next to us. She has the upper hand here, she says it politely & is too old for them to defend themselves. It’s great!

The lead changed 6 times in the final, heroic quarter. The intensity didn’t slow, as we expected. In fact, it continued to increase with both sides wrestling for the upper hand. There were a number of heroes on both sides, and a similar number of fatigue-related errors.Players were cramping on the ground, there was chaotic energy everywhere.

With a minute to go, Jeff Garlett played on to kick the winning goal. I was on my feet cheering because I thought we’d finally got on top. But bloody Fletcher (Fletcher!!) caught him and the goal wasn’t kicked. In fact, it went down to Essendon’s end, and after another error from one of our best players (Simpson), they got a point to level the game.

I cannot remember the last time I witnessed a drawn game, but I seem to remember Stephen Kernahan kicking a sitter out on the full when even a point would have won us a game. Was it at Waverley? Mum cannot remember ever watching a draw. New footy experiences occur no matter what your age.

Our enemies in the seats around us became our comrades. We had all enjoyed and suffered the footy feast presented to us, and felt for our players. My footy record had sustained a beating, but will be kept as a souvenir of an epic.

We reflected that Essendon had 2 knee injuries, 2 points and 2 coaches. But we felt that Carlton had let one get away, and I fear 2 less points will haunt us later in the year.

Barbara Smith.


  1. John Butler says

    Barbara, I like your Mum’s style. :)

    And for the record, the Kernahan miss was in 1993, at the ‘G.

Leave a Comment