Powerboy Meets the Men Behind the Women of AFL

Poweboy has had an epiphany. It is as if a veil has lifted and he has realised that for all of his adult life he has been blind to one of the glaringly obvious reasons for fifty percent of the population’s passion for the game of Aussie rules.

It has been in front of Powerboy’s nose all along. Fit blokes, tight shorts, close body contact, contortions in the mud and passion can only lead to one thing – if that’s what you’re looking for.

Powerboy, as his name implies, is a victim of his own testosterone and the Y chromosome and, as such, has never fully appreciated the homo-erotic possibilities of Aussie rules footy. Boy, P. does not wish to suggest that he is so rampantly heterosexual that he is blind to the many philosophical and theoretical musings posited upon the subject and its relationship with footy over the years. However, it is only now, when the footy boot is on the other foot, when tables have been turned and when fit, mature, athletic women don guernsey and cross white line that Powerboy witnesses two of his major life preoccupations combine at the same time and in the same place.

Powerboy will dare to say it! Boy, P. loves AFLW because he loves watching women and he loves watching footy.

Is that O.K. to say and is it O.K to do so here? Is this a #metoo moment? Is this a #youtoo moment?

Sure, Powerboy has watched women play footy before. Indeed, Powerboy once dated an English rose who actually played in a women’s competition, much to his surprise and against all previously revealed inclinations, and can say that the fine woman’s desirability only increased because of it. Sadly, Powerboy’s love of footy was seriously tarnished when watching these games due to a very low standard from amateurs and hindsight leaves him wondering if his recent retirement from the game at the time may have clouded his view or if fatherhood and a daughter since has brightened his outlook.

Powerboy fully appreciates the maxim that youth is wasted on the young when he reflects upon that fine English rose that was never fully appreciated by a callow youth such as himself. The years have taught him that such physical beauty as he found in both himself and others was fleeting and was there for that moment in time only. The same applies to football. Powerboy still, to this day, wakes in a flush in early morn and wistfully acknowledges that he is a long time retired as he realises he was only dreaming about that speccy he just thought he had pulled down. Powerboy only dobs the pill in dreams now.

When it comes to AFLW, Boy, P. finds the whole spectacle as sexy as buggery and can only now see why Powergirl has been so keen on after-match functions. Her explanations about alpha males, physical conquest, natural selection and olfactory glands combined with pheromonal receptors all make sense when one surrenders to the primal side of one’s psyche. Powergirl is prone to primal episodes.

Powerboy does not have Powergirl’s emotional grasp and  cannot exactly specify why he finds all of these women so attractive, His heart is severely torn and his AFLW fantasy team is conflicted by members selected for two very different types of talent.  Is it their courage that fires up men’s sub-conscious desire for an amazon warrior? Is it their lack of feminine decorum that brands them so uniquely Aussie in their beauty and all the more loveable? Does the understanding that these women are as tough as their blokes make any gender comparison trite and inconsequential in our hearts eyes? This is a mystery to Powerboy and he has set out to find out why and to interview members of a rare breed.

Powerboy has sallied forth from the bawdy Lord Exmouth Tavern and sauntered through the French section of Exeter (ahhh…Montpelier…) to find himself at the door of the “Just Guys Barber Shop” on Semaphore Road. Brothers Kahleed, Sam and Ali proudly boast of a modern establishment for ‘today’s gentleman of leasure’ and Powerboy is here to meet some of the HAB’s (husbands and boyfriends) from the Adelaide Crows AFLW team as they endure the final manscaping rituals before another home game. He has chosen this innocuous barber shop to ensure a safe space for men away from the prying eyes and ears of roughened lady footballers well versed in breaking down barriers, crashing glass ceilings and infiltrating male bastions.

Powerboy gains all inside intel on the inner sanctum of the Port Power from the customers waiting benches of Just Guys and reads his Saturday race form there when reliable banter is not forthcoming. He also swears by the expertise of Muslim men as barbers and has actively sought them out for many years due to their willingness to go above and beyond normal depilatory tasks. These chaps are particularly good at tweezing external nose hair with a cotton thread. Boy, P. recommends this establishment to all footballers who wish to avoid notoriety for their choice of coiffure (think Capper, W. & Anderson, G) rather than for their skill (think Ablett, G. (Jr))

These brave men, these HAB’s, agreed to talk on condition of anonymity and with false names in order to reveal a side to the game rarely glimpsed and even lesser considered. Few footy fans understand the pressure of supporting a professional female AFL athlete at the peak of her fame and career and the sacrifices a bloke must make for the good of the club and the team and, ultimately, their relationship. Their identity concerns are amplified when it is revealed that two of them are members of the Port Adelaide football club and live on the LeFevre Peninsula. One has even confessed that his partner does not yet know this.

It’s a thankless responsibility and these men want to dispel any misplaced public notions of gold digging or being plastic, shallow, materialistic or dumb.

“Greg”, a plumber from Taperoo, put it succinctly when he explained “We aren’t all comparing the girls’ contracts and using this as a barometer of status or pecking order. Some of us earn more than our partners and have to keep it from the other fellas just to avoid conflict. In such an oestrogen charged environment things can get quite sensible and it’s good to have some male input into getting their lives off track.”

When pressed, Greg tearfully voiced concern with the behaviour of those other men the HAB’s have labelled home wreckers and lotharios. “It is not unusual to see lustful young men, at any AFLW game, tossing phone numbers from the pickets, passing notes at after game functions and haunting player night spots hoping to snag a prime piece of cheesecake likely to get them onto the red shag pile come trophy night. These men despise us purely because we fell in love with women who just happen to be elite footballers with rock hard bodies and fat pay packets. I have had to endure slurs behind my back about my weight, my choice of slacks, my man bun and speculation about body parts and talents well beyond the purview of this forum “

 

“Gordon”, a garden stylist from Pooraka, excitedly and angrily interjects, ”And then there are the men who lurk in the shadows, waiting to seduce a lady footballer. While out, I’ll be no more than a metre away when I’ll turn to find a debonaire hunk whispering in “Cheryl’s” ear, offering her handball lessons in the carpark. Contrary to their objectives, these men actually fortify the stud / aesthete dichotomy commonly observed by female footballers. These himbo hunks then return home with an even greater demand that their own girlfriends become the living antithesis of healthy, respectable, nightclubbing athletes.” Gordon is clearly a thinker when it comes to gender politics.

 

“Bruce” the brickie from Wingfield concurred, “In our club we have men that are fathers, are self made business owners, are men with degrees, are students, are men with disabilities, are men that have left their families in another state for their partner’s big chance in the AFLW. Only to name a few. We are making our own way through life and not just standing in the shadows of our partner’s success or stealing their limelight.’

Bruce’s lip quivered and he shifted noticeably in his reclined barber chair. He pensively began to speak but soon the words were rushing out in a torrent;

“The reality is that we are also the ones that have to nurse these women whilst they vomit from nerves before a game or talk to them when their anxiety creates insomnia. We are the ones that tend to them on the couch for the 6 weeks when they’ve broken their leg and then support them through rehab. We are the ones that do not get to share night feeding of our babies because our girls need all the sleep they can get. We are the ones that adapt to being alone in labour wards, birthdays, weddings, hospitals and family catch ups when our girls have football commitments like playing games, are interstate or on pre-season camps. We are the ones that can’t jump off a bandwagon when the season gets tough. We are the ones that stand by them as their lives are made public like if, god forbid, they let go that once a year and get drunk. And we are the ones that ride the emotional roller coaster with them when they are dropped from the team or delisted.”

Bruce seemed to have so much more pent up, but, ever vigilant, Kahleed the barber leapt forward with a hot towel to cover his wretched face and soften his erect bristles, both metaphoric and actual.

Simon the panel beater is similarly adamant about the lot of a HAB. “I would also have a guess that 90% of us are not male models. And even the ones that are, are not powerless trophies and have more to offer than just a square jaw and six pack abs. It offends me that people think our partners are too superficial or heartless or aren’t intelligent enough to be with someone for more than just attractiveness? Physical appearance is a depreciating asset, but someone that will really, really enjoy some of the bullshit that sometimes comes with footy, well, that asset is priceless.”

Sam the barber interjects as he tells us of his cousin in Lebanon who really is a male model and is, ironically, named Asif. We all pause to laugh.

Simon continues passionately “Yet, that isn’t to say we don’t feel the pressures to be physically perfect. Living with a super fit and toned athlete can be challenging! Sometimes we feel the burden of trying to maintain their high standards and keep up with their healthy life style. However, the pressures are more obviously felt by the media and public. No one wants to be beaten down by the “fashion police” in the newspaper or up for criticism about the way they look on the internet. Pointing out man boobs or love handles in gossip mags can be hurtful. Many blokes in our club walk straight past the red shag-pile at the Gownlow Medal now because the scrutiny is unfair, especially considering most are only there to support their partner’s achievements.”

Talk soon turns to the seasons prospects for the Crows AFLW team. The lads are keen to pair up a few promising rookies with some ideal HAB candidates and speculation is rife about an un-named player rumoured to be insisting on a backless tuxedo for her rather muscular beau to wear at this year’s Gownlows. Powerboy asks if there is a lot of pressure come Gownlow Medal night when the expectations of the paparazzi and the football public are so high on a night when fashion is the winner and the perfect handbag is absolutely THE most important accessory.

The interview ended shortly after when Powerboy noticed that the question had somehow gone through to the keeper and his new friends had taken this opportunity to begin planning for that very night. Powerboy was duly invited to the pre-party party where he will witness the lads gearing up to wow the public and each other with a feast of male fashion risks and vox pop faux pas.

Powerboy will so report upon the evening on the red shag pile at the Gownlow Medal presentation at seasons end.

 

Comments

  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Powerboy has a lot of work to catch up on to keep up to date and compete with the female and male partners of those wonderful AFLW players. Powerboy is funny. Powerboy helps us understand these poor misunderstood and forgotten people. Poor Powerboy

  2. “… Is this a #metoo moment? Is this a #youtoo moment?…”

    Yes, Powerboy, everything comes under those banners!

Leave a Comment

*