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Round 10 – Gold Coast v Sydney: Swans Family Bliss


I did something stupid last week. At 37 years of age, not having played football since 1997, I found myself standing in the centre square of a suburban Melbourne football ground, about to ruck against some bloke half my age. Did I hear you say midlife crisis? The end result was a few handballs, hitouts, and a fractured shoulder. I will be watching today’s match wearing a sling. My footy boots have now been buried deep in the closet by Sophie.

I negotiate with my three year old son Jack that if we turn off Little Charley Bear, and switch over to the footy, we will see his best friend Buddy on the TV. I need to throw in a few smarties to seal the deal.  Jack grabs his Buddy plush toy, Sophie gets the chicken curry going on the stove, and eight month old Harry naps upstairs. Game on.

Buddy kicks the first and Jack screeches with delight. You can’t measure the impact this man has on bringing people to the game. Seven last week and looks like another bag may be around the corner tonight for the big man.

The Swans grab hold of the game early and are first to the ball with intensity and professionalism. Every Suns possession is under pressure and the cracks are starting to appear in the injury ravaged team. Goodes roves a tap and goals, making it all look so simple. How many times have I seen the champ do that over the years?

The cries from upstairs suggest Harrys’ nap has finished. He joins the lads on the couch. Although he is more preoccupied with eating his feet, it is good to have all the Dodson boys together watching the Swans. Pure bliss.

As is the case most weeks it is the midfield that does the damage as we shoot out to a six goal lead. Kennedy, Parker and Hannebery are waxing in the middle. McVeigh marshals the troops and the well-oiled-machine is putting the Suns to the sword. You get the feeling this could get ugly tonight if we can keep the foot down.

Jack has been hiding in the garage for ten minutes before I notice he is gone. We play hide and seek approximately 300 times a day in the Dodson household. Jack has two hiding spots, the garage and the cupboard. A career in espionage is unlikely for the young man.

Half-time and the dinner bell rings. Dinner time with Jack is genuine trench warfare, and tonight is no exception. Rice flying, tears, growling parents, and utensils thrown like spears. We negotiate, plead and bribe to convince our fussy little Dictator to have his share. He wins a close points decision tonight. Harry on the other hand would eat his own spoon if given the chance. Go figure.

Lips stinging, sinuses cleared and belly full. You just can’t beat a good chicken curry on a cold Melbourne winter’s night. I settle back in on the couch for the second half.

The Suns intensity lifts in the third quarter. To their credit they are having a crack, while the Swans are sloppy and appear to have their eyes on next week and bigger fish later in the year. The game meanders on and lacks spark. You get the feeling you are watching a practice match at times. If I was a player, I’d be making a beeline for the back of the huddle at three-quarter-time, as I am guessing a good old fashioned  spray is coming from Horse.

Harrys’ intensity on the other hand lifts. The midget strongman upends a box of toys and beams a smile of accomplishment as trucks, planes and cars go flying.

Jack has had enough of the benign affair and is about to nod off. It is a slick operation of nappy, milk, book and bed for him, as the players take in their Gatorade at the break. Thankfully no battle tonight getting the three foot scallywag to sleep. The Buddy plush toy is tucked under the Doona with him.

Harry and I play peekaboo as the final stanza gets underway. Jetta is finding plenty of space out on the wings and Mitchell is starting to look like part of the furniture. Big Kurt looks a little sluggish, however, is making the most of his limited touches, and bags his third, before he is handed the dreaded red vest.

The crowd continues to boo Goodes with every touch. It is so staged and predictable that it is boring. The champ doesn’t seem to worry. He looks good tonight and his legs have their spring back.

As a fellow Wagga born boy it is great to see Cunningham hit the scoreboard and get a few touches. Much of Wagga bleeds red and white, with strong links formed from decades back, when Wagga was in the South Melbourne recruiting zone. The great Paul Kelly also made his mark in strengthening the connection.

Harry has lost interest in proceedings. He is having too much fun munching on watermelon to stress that we are turning the ball over and getting into some sloppy habits as the game wears on. On the back of the Carlton game last week it is understandable that we are coasting a little. It is human nature.

I remind myself that I should not take any victory for granted. A 52 point win in the current AFL climate of even results is still a good result. I am old enough to remember the early 90s when wins were as rare as Hens’ teeth. I bet Col Kinnear and Gary Buckenara would like a crack at coaching this team of stars. A solid decade and more of success has made me so accustomed to winning. I should not forget the past.

No injuries, points in the bag and the job done. The AFL season is a war of attrition and you just have to keep banking the wins to help give you the best shot at it when the whips are cracking.

My shoulder is aching and I am making no contribution to keeping the Dodson household ticking over today. Sophie has looked after the kids, done the shopping, cleaned the house and listened to me whinge all day. I am giving her the three votes.



About craig dodson

Born in the sporting mecca that is Wagga Wagga and now reside in Melbourne with my lovelly wife Sophie and son's Jack and Harry. Passionate Swans supporter and formally played cricket at a decent level and Aussie Rules at a not so decent level! Spend my days now perfecting my slice on the golf course and the owner of the worlds worst second serve on the tennis course.

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