Who goes to a football game with an all or nothing expectation? Well, we all do I guess. What I’m trying to say is what lame-arsed, lily-liver’d, ferret-headed, stinkard, tax-collecting, swollen parcel of dropsies would declare themselves a “neutral” at the biggest game of the AFL, nay, Australian, nay World calendar and then set such hard and fixed terms to judge what was a good, nay great, nay life-affirming game of footy? Get involved man for (at least one) god’s sake!

From what “neutrals” have said to me in the weeks since the great Hawks win, the aforementioned chap wanted (demanded) a close game, where the lead changed numerous times, the ball swept up and down the ground in a continuous strategic attacking manner and the mark, goal and tackle of the year all occurred right before their eyes and a goal kicked after the siren wins the game. What odds would bookies give a game like that happening? 1000 to 1? More like a hopeless romantic to none.

What is a neutral anyway? Switzerland is the embodiment of being neutral and has been for 500 years. But who wasn’t seduced by Harry Lime’s compelling contention in ‘The Third Man’:

In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

I suspect neutrals wanted a Borgias’ Italy version of a Grand Final. Guess what, that’s what they got. If so called neutrals adjusted their aperture ever so slightly they would have seen all the things they hoped for. They just would have seen it from one team not two. The neutral walked away, disappointed, as a neutral would. The footy connoisseur lapped up the ultimate display of footy prowess on the ultimate day.

In something so important, so precious to the very fabric of our soul, would you want to be a neutral or a connoisseur?

A neutral, by its very definition is “colour that is not bright or strong” or “not electrically charged” (Merriam-Webster), “not one thing or the other” “disengaged so that power cannot be transmitted” (The Free Dictionary), or from the esteemed Cambridge dictionary: “a state of no activity or development”. Hmm, not as attractive a descriptor as you thought huh? Sure it also means an impartial or unbiased person if you want to get really picky but that’s beside the point.

Did you know that neutrals feature on Futurama? They are natives of the planet, Neutral. They are, “grey skinned humanoids, incapable of making strong decisions” ( Urban dictionary continues the scorched earth summation of neutral. It says a neutral is “someone who does not show much personality”. It gets worse. A neutral is “a person that doesn’t really do anything and doesn’t really help anyone” and “someone who isn’t really into anything”. Man I wanna party with neutrals. Not.

Connoisseurs, on the other hand, are informed, discerning, appreciative, expert judges in matters of cultural aesthetics like art galleries and opera and footy. They are buffs, devotees … they are aficionados. No finer compliment could be ascribed to the connoisseur than Ambrose Bierce’s definition in The Devil’s Dictionary, “a specialist who knows everything about something and nothing about anything else”. And if that doesn’t describe footy followers then I’ll go he for chasey. Aint that a pretty good wrap up of SEN, Fox Footy, the first ten pages of all Newspaper sports sections and you and me? We are connoisseurs, we are not neutrals.

So next time you head off to a big game that doesn’t feature your team, go as a connoisseur. See what difference it makes. I reckon when you re-watch the 2014 Grand Final (and you should) you’ll see things that your neutral goggles refused you. Did you know Hannebery was tackled four times in the first quarter? Each one a harder shock to his system than the last. That’s something a connoisseur would have picked up on as she discerned reasons for the Swans capitulation.

Once you immerse yourself in the Hawks superior tactics and skills and efficiencies the game will open up, like a new dawn in a Heidelberg School painting. The true game will be revealed. Your deep love of this wonderful game, known far and wide as footy, will be reinvigorated. You will be a better person for the experience. You will reject neutrals and all they stand for … except world peace, of course.






  1. Look Rick I really honestly truly think that Hawthorn are the greatest club of all time and they played the perfectest most skilful and brutal game ever by an Australian football team in the history of 2014/the AFL/time and the universe in the Grand Final.

    Is that enough?
    OK – the Hawkporn is getting worse than Catporn.

  2. RK – completely agree in principle. This soft underbelly pervades our society. By being neutral we become apologetic. It makes me puke.

    I say to my kids – “Have an opinion. Believe in something!” I say that because I get infuriated with their “I dunno” answer, which epitomises neutrality, to every question asked.

    For the record I’m not neutral. I hate Hawthorn.

    BTW – we’re all tax collectors.

  3. Rick, with this piece I think you’ve cementdf yourself as the Goebbels of the Hawthorn footy club. Cheers

  4. Dave Brown says

    I find I can usually dredge up enough dislike or admiration on one side or the other that it is rarely an issue. Always seems to be a ladder of sympathy in my head.

  5. Steve Hodder says

    Bam!! Right between the eyes; Trucker!


  6. PB, you are a connoisseur!

    Dips, I like your style

    Mr Q, ouch! However, why compare me to such a lightweight? Eddie Bernays wrote the book on propaganda! He literally did write the book. His techniques, it can be argued, make the Nazis use of his ideas seem like amatuers!

    That’s the spirit Dave B

    Thank you Steve.

    The final word should go to Dowager Countess of Grantham (from Downton Abbey and played with great Wilderian flair by Maggie Smith). In the latest season she remarks, “Oh, I never take sides but I am far from neutral”.

  7. Finalwordssminalword.
    Bloody Hawthorn smugness.

  8. Yeah no.

  9. Thought it was too harsh after I wrote it, then I remembered Kennett was your president. Maybe you could have called your piece “I’ve watched the GF four times and so should you. ” Winners are grinners indeed.

  10. If only there was such a thing as Saintsporn. That would get some knickers twisted.

    Matt Zurbo alluded to this in becoming a fan of players regardless of the team they played for. It allowed for the skills of the game to be more appreciated. Not that it would stop you continuing to hate some players either, even from your own team. Some ‘fans’ seem to put the poorly performing players of their team beyond the normal level of distaste for opposition teams in general, making for interesting people watch experiences at the footy. And of course, great writing from Litza.

    I agree Rick. In re-watching the game, it was a mighty display of the range of footy skills combined with total attack on the ball or the opposition if they had it. Sydney had moments, but that’s all they were allowed.

  11. Only one grand final have I been neutral.
    That was 1993.
    My distaste for both sides was equal. On the day I couldn’t figure out who to hate more, Essendon or Carlton. It meant I didn’t care who won. It was a shame they both couldn’t lose.
    That woeful GF aside, to be neutral is to not care.
    And I love footy too much to barrack for the umpires or a close game.

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