Omens and Superstitions



When I’m cutting firewood, I usually use a ‘Face cut” or “notch”, and always take the wedge, even though it won’t make a bit of difference to the load (the slice of wood you cut out to steer the tree’s fall), just for luck. Every wedge for every tree. If the stump’s too far from the ute, I’ll put the wedge in my belt, down my top, whatever, to make sure I don’t leave it behind.

The only time I didn’t take one last year was on a crappy winter’s day, past dusk. I realised, while heading out from the coop, I’d left it behind, but thought: “Stuff it. Cold, wet. Only a small bit of wood.”

And got bogged for the first time in three years. Didn’t dig myself out until 2am.

Superstitions are a beautiful thing.

I have a million of them despite being a rock solid atheist. Well, that wedge one in the real world, and 999,999 in footy.

Some would say its routine, but I know it’s more than that. I put on my socks before jocks, all that stupid stuff. But eat the same foods, Friday night and Saturday, too. The same brands. That’s important for some reason. I don’t check the weather report, (seize the conditions no matter what is dished up). Touch the ball at least five times before stripping.

Every time I try something new (like country music before a game, haha) and play shit, I go back to what I know. Every time something works, I adopt it into my pre-game or half-time rituals, until I’m heavy with them, even though I know they don’t matter a damn.

There’s something about the way they become a part of my preparation, the process. Maybe, in my ramshackle life, they’re a discipline more than a belief.

A lot of players have them.

Some believe in no sex before a game. Others swear by it. Not that it will or won’t wear them out, but, simply, it will or won’t bring them luck.

I tried it one year. Fridays became the only time my girlfriend wanted to root me! Talk about sexual politics! It made for a very weird private life.

A lot of sports people in a lot of fields have superstitions. That lucky rag. Those tatty, lucky boots. A prayer at half time. A good song on the radio before the game means a good game. If Carlton wins on a Friday they’ll get a B.O.G. Being the last to run through the banner. Not running through it. I think it was Alan Jones who only ever wore red undies when he raced, but don’t quote me on that. I know Coulthard had a lucky pair he wore until there was nothing left. Italian Formula One drivers tend to not want the No. 17 car, because in Roman, it is XVII, which, when re-shaped, spell VIXI – “I have lived”, implying it’s time for death.

Many a cricketer wears a lucky necklace.

I know none of it matters a damn except in your head, but so what?


Our club’s had a rough summer, no secret there. Too many players have left for varying reasons. A corker new committee have come on board, though, our new coach is a ripper young local who believes in the place. It’ll be a hard year, but I’m pulling on the boots for my 32nd season and staying local, damn it! Don’t worry about that.

I rocked up early for our first post Christmas training run, straight from work. The oval was that yellowy-green, pre-season hard, there was that easy summer feeling in the air. The cows in the surrounding paddocks and few small clouds all lazily hung around the mountain I live on as if the world doesn’t spin.

I looked over the boundary line as the boys trickled in, talking shit, kicking at the pig skins.

“Check it out, Tay,” I said to one of them.

“What’s that, Old Dog?”

The first six vehicles were all white 4×4 work utes, battered and proud. Lined up like soldiers, four facing the oval, two near the fence. What a great club! We’re gunna have a bottler of a year, regardless of the scores.

I mean, I’m not really superstitious, honest, but you can’t get a better omen than that!


Zurbo superstitions photo


  1. You gotta have something. If I put my left boot on first I would tie the right laces up first or vice versa. Occasionally end up doing an OCD dance trying to work out which one went on first.

    Have a big season Matt.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Loved it Old Dog and I was exactly the same especially re music driving to a game same songs etc ! Always left pad on 1st . D Jarman when making a comeback for Gaza had tp play a div 8 game to qualify( re finals ) after the game Uppy ( Ad Uni FC ) went up to fud and told him he had a future in the game if he stuck at it likewise your good self Old Dog

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Re sex before the game, some of those change rooms are quite cramped.

  4. Thanks Gus! Thanks Mal!!!
    Not even in my prime was I as good as Jarman’s bootlace!

    Mark, haha. stop creeping me out!

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