Pies on the Prize: A Hyper-belated Year in Review – Part 1

Look, I suppose you’re all probably (not) looking for answers to my prolonged absence from the Almanac universe. But I find that it’s too boring for me blame my procrastinatory habits every time, so just for fun, here is my excuse framed as a western drama I made up in my head:

We set the scene in a barren frontier. An old man with a white wispy beard sits on the porch of a saloon, dust swirling through the air.

A little girl sits on his lap and says: “Papa, will you tell me about the Pie Girl?”

He replies, staring off into distance and taking a long drag from his cigarette: “Pie Girl…I ain’t heard that name in years.”

“What happened to her, Pa? Did she disappear or somethin’? One boy at the schoolhouse said she was eaten alive by Hawthorn supporters!”

“Oh no, darlin’. She caught a bad case of VCE, got real lazy afterwards and fell victim to her own procrastinatin’ habits!”

See, how much better is that?

I know the last thing you all need is to remember the cataclysmic year that was 2017, marked by the Grand Final win of the team that begins with “R” and ends in “-ichmond” (don’t worry, I’m over it). Nevertheless, since my last update almost a year and a half ago, quite a lot has happened: I officially became an adult, graduated from high school, started uni, welcomed another cat into the home and grew ten whole centimetres! Okay, the last part was a lie, but I like to keep my hopes up.

A culmination of factors pushed me towards finally finishing this article that has been sitting in my drafts for the past few months, including the upcoming 2018 season, the coming conclusion of the AFLW season and my nagging – I mean loving – father. I know I had a whole three months off after finishing school in which to do this, but in my defence, I had earned my right to avoid anything that involved sitting down and thinking (and effort in general).

So without further ado, I present to you: Pie Girl’s 2017

The new year kicked off with a shift at the Big Bash, stationed on ye olde pie cart. Whilst I was asked if I could do tray vending and relive my glory days, my recent 18th birthday reminded me that I was possibly days away from snapping my back and reverting to a walker for the rest of my life, screaming at children to get off my lawn.

In between cricket shifts, I managed to sneak off to Adelaide with some school friend sans parentals. I introduced them to some of South Australia’s finest cuisine, including FruChocs, Haighs and even a meal at Jamie’s Italian (the only thing Adelaide has that Melbourne doesn’t, aside from chicken salt at stadiums and bung fritz). With obligatory trips to Glenelg and Hahndorf — as well as a leisurely evening stroll along the Torrens — I think my friends had enough South Australia in their systems to last the next decade.

Whilst most of my cricket shifts were relatively tame, there is one moment that I will haunt me forever. Working on the curry cart as a cashier for the first time, I was asked by a customer what the difference between a pakora and a samosa was. Normally questions regarding ingredients have easy answers when on the pie cart, but with my experience in Indian food being shamefully limited to a few dinners from a place down the road and the heavenly butter chicken I had one time in Berlin, I mustered up all of my courage to sheepishly ask the chef — who I just so happened to be working with for the first time — what the difference was. I waited for him to rightfully laugh at me, the tiny tap dancer who enjoys studying German grammar in her free time. However, with a kindly smile he informed me that the difference pretty much comes down to the pastry. Sacred knowledge that I feel like could win me a million dollars should it one day come up on Hot Seat.

With the cricket season settling down at the MCG until summer came around again, I decided to pick up a bat myself. Having not made the team first round last year and playing as a fill-in later on, I was determined to at least make the cut this year, even if that meant I was the twelfth woman. I lived up to my status as the technically-fifteenth-woman, never once batting and constantly throwing the ball when attempting to bowl (I blame my 10 years of netball, but really I’m just hopeless). Regardless of my lack of skill, we won through our first few rounds with our next match set to be played in April.

One Friday night early in the month, I ventured west with Dad to watch the Crows women’s side face off against the Bulldogs. The match was certainly a departure from the spectacle that is often the men’s matches, but the more community-based atmosphere was nonetheless a refreshing way to experience footy. Having played the sport since Year 7, it was more than exciting to finally see women given the opportunity to play at such a level and I look forward to the future development of the league.

Nothing much else happened in February. I did start my final year of secondary education though, so I guess that’s something?

Almost in the swing of Year 12, as part of my Theatre Studies assessment I spent my Monday and Wednesday nights, as well as Sunday afternoons, at school for 12 Angry Men rehearsals. Interspersed between my attempts — and subsequent failures — at portraying an elderly woman, my remaining Tuesdays and Thursdays after school were also occupied by practices for the school production of The Addams Family. Amidst all of the chaos, the AFL season kicked off. Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned commitments, I missed the season opener, but did manage to squeeze in the Friday night Collingwood vs. Western Bulldogs shift.

After a night of celebrating the end of having to talk like a poor-man’s version of my Nan at the exclusive(ish) 12 Angry Men afterparty, I somehow managed to make it to Adelaide’s first local match for the season, with the payer of my membership and a special guest (aka Amanda, aka Juror #8, aka my wholesome Canadian pal) in tow.

Having already, hosted a poutine party for us uncultured offspring of convicts (or free folk of South Australia), it only felt fitting that I would introduce Amanda to the world of AFL. It was easy enough to indoctrinate her into the Adelaide camp, because after all I am an honourary Edmonton Oilers supporter and Wayne Gretzky’s *unofficial* number one Australian fan. Naturally, I did warn her that we had not beaten Hawthorn in six-odd years, so we went into it with no high expectations. Throughout the match, Amanda witnessed all that Aussie Rules had to offer: pies with sauce, Eddie Betts, Tex’s moustache, twenty-something-year-olds asking about shampoo choices and old men (including Dad) crying foul at the umpires, a deed that went against every pure Canadian fibre in Amanda’s body. Oh yeah, There was some football in there too. To top off the day, Amanda’s fate as a Crows supporter was sealed with the ceremonial gifting of a scarf. [Technically, this match was April, but since I didn’t go to sleep the night before, it felt like March to me.]

With the football season well and truly powering on, the first massive games for the year came during the ANZAC round. Working on the gourmet pie cart in members is normally a fairly busy role, but nothing could prepare me for Richmond vs Melbourne on the Monday night. The lines were infinite and unfortunately, the fancy gourmet pies were not. *Sidenote: I think my dream world would include infinite chicken and sage pies. I guess world peace would be nice too.* To top it all off, I was in charge! It’s shifts like those that make me truly appreciate the feeling of a cool Melbourne evening air whilst chomping down on nutella doughnuts post-work. I should add though, the nutella doughnuts are not a patch on the jam ones we sell at the cart. Just a whiff of the raspberry jam can power me through a five hour shift*. To top the day off, I had been playing a cricket final out in Trafalgar and yes, there was no batting or bowling on my behalf (what can I say, I’m a consistent player!).

*I was not sponsored to say this. I just really love my MCG jam doughnuts.

May is one of those months for me where nothing happens in particular. It’s like Year 9 of months: it won’t really make a difference if you waste it or excel in it. Not that I’m endorsing slacking off, so stay in school kids and make the most out of your entire high school education. Please also ensure that every project incorporates glitter and hot glue and tell teachers when they accidentally give you extra marks on a test. That was essentially how I made it through junior school (and senior school, if we’re being honest here).

This month did, however, mark a momentous occasion: my final time competing with the school football team. Much to Mum’s chagrin, I laced up my boots, popped in my bright pink mouthguard and marched onto the field with the girls I’d been playing with since Year 7. We came together well to win through our first match, which was not complete without one of my classic “I’m fine!” moments, wherein I was crushed by a girl twice my size only to wheezily hobble off the field. This isn’t an uncommon phenomenon and I’m pretty sure that I used it at least once every two weeks during my netball days when I would waddle off the court calling out “I’m fine! I’m fine! I’m fine!” Ah, the joys of non-contact sport.

Nevertheless, our last game was all but a walk in the park. We were 18 points down at halftime, with only 20 minutes to make it back. Petrified at playing the forward line after years in the back, we somehow managed to grab the lead in just minutes (no contribution on my behalf though, my cricket skill probably reflects my football abilities perfectly). Thankfully, we held it together and before the clock could even tick past ten minutes, the star of the opposition went down in an awkward tackle, crying out about her ankle. Surely enough, an ambulance was called and we were declared victors due to the time. Whilst most definitely not the fashion we had wanted to win in, we were through to the next round. Unfortunately, due to a bit too much time out of class, I was unable to play the next round, but I was thrilled when they girls won through again. Naturally, we were looking forward to playing at the following stage, but more on that later.

With the workload ramping at school, I had to slow down a bit at the MCG for the month. It was pretty nuts with the end of Unit 3 approaching, resulting in a bombardment of assessments, including my English oral, aptly focused upon the areas of improvement required for the AFLW to truly succeed (slideshow available upon request).

A big believer in the “treat yourself” ideology, after writing German essay about my personal life (apparently I hope to be living in Berlin in ten years time with my dream man, preferably a Matthias Schweighöfer lookalike), I hopped aboard the Waurn Ponds train, once again with the payer of my membership. Whilst not as cold and wet as last year’s effort, the outcome was certainly the same as we trudged disappointedly back to the train. I suppose my chosen reading material that night did set the dreary tone for the evening: Nineteen Eighty-Four, a novel that I would come to quote in my sleep during the coming months.

The month was capped off by the school musical. With members of the ensemble making up different Addams ancestors, I was allocated the esteemed (and definitely not made up) character of “80s Prom Queen Addams.” Naturally, the ghostly makeup did wonders for my complexion, but it was ultimately trumped by my wig that seemed to become more and more sentient as the show went on. It was a bittersweet experience when it all came to a close, capped off by a swinging afterparty (see a theme here with theatre kids and partying?)

That’s all for now, folks! Naturally, I did not want to subject you all to the entirety of my year in one go, so stay tuned for part 2 later this week!*

*Subject to change due to mounting uni assignments

More Crows silverware


  1. Dave Brown says

    Looking forward to the second half of the year… with the exception of September

  2. Thanks and well done PG on your achievements and the fluent inclusion of a chicken salt reference in this piece.

    Hope part 2 love soon!

  3. Well, yes *love, but I’ll try *lobs.

  4. Yvette Wroby says

    love your work. Totally waiting for next installment and I want to see the slideshow please!!!

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