Round 2 – Carlton v Sydney: When childhood allegiances get a little Messi

For a short while during the first quarter between Carlton and Sydney I was living the dream. Almost. It didn’t require a great stretch of the imagination to pretend.

* * *

In 2006 I became a father for the first time, in 2008 for the second. The Carlton indoctrination began early. Living overseas was a double-edged sword – nobody would likely try direct their allegiance elsewhere, but the game here is inconspicuous and not conducive to an ardent following.

Still, “The Blues” became for them a part of who Daddy is. There were also a few membership goodies – a scarf and a couple of badges, bought at a game in 2012 to propagate an allegiance moreso than to have one bloom. Note to Carlton: Eddie Betts’ ability to recruit and retain young Blues members alone would have been worth at least three-quarters of his contract.

However, in South East Asia the world game looms large, particularly when it is played in the school yard. That it has priority over something that is not sighted on the streets or discussed at home (particularly given how our recent seasons have panned out) barely needs mentioning.

Earlier in the year, my eldest boy told me he only says he follows the Blues because I want him to. He has started playing soccer this year and this world has opened up to him at exponential speed. He is on a fast track to learning about different teams and players. YouTube is his classroom.

So rather than him immersing himself in my sporting world, I am diving into his, trying to help him learn about the game, who the teams are, the best players, and where to find match highlights.

* * *

On Sunday we were kicking a small soft Carlton ball in his room as the radio played the first quarter of Carlton v Sydney from my phone. I was close to living my dream.

When he kicked the ball though, he wasn’t Levi Casboult (cult figures are thin on the ground in Carlton’s forward line this year), but Zlatan, or Messi, or Ronaldo, and we were kicking the ball along the ground and talking about his first goal that he had kicked in his game of soccer that morning. All the while oblivious to the game at hand.

In the time it took us to reminisce about his goal, the Swans had kicked three of their own, and my son realised he was running out of time before he had to practise his Chinese and my dream of devotedly following a competitive Carlton showing with my son had receded into reality.

* * *

Three years ago I become a father for the third time. I have taken a more realistic approach to my youngest son’s sporting allegiances.


Carlton 10.11.70 defeated by

Sydney 20.11.131


  1. jan courtin says

    Great story Damien, from a Swans supporter.
    Good luck with your third son!

  2. Thanks Jan!

  3. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Nice one DJ. Interesting how our kids’ interest intersect with other sports. Carlton Soccer Club history might add to the young fellas interest. So many great Socceroos played with the round ball Blues.

  4. Hi Phil, thanks! I only have vague memories of the Carlton Soccer Club so will definitely have a look online.

  5. Then there’s the Carlton cricket club who have produced test players like Paul Hibbert , as well as Victorian players like John Douglas.

    It would be remiss not to mention the marvellous Princess Hill bowling club at the northern end of Princess Park. Roll a ball down the greens, have a coldie, all recommended.


  6. Andrew Starkie says

    Congrats Damien,

  7. You sound just like me, same number of kids, similar ages. Struggling for interest in the CFC. I shall persist.

  8. Damien

    Good to read of the footballing life in Singapore. What? No mention of the Boomarang Bar?

    As our youngest Max is a contrarian, he’s decided he’s a Bombers man. I’m a little disappointed, but would be more so if he’d no passion at all. Part of me thinks the code and even the sport is irrelevant, and the vital fact is again the involvement, and hopefully, the participation.

    Given the astonishing obsession with the round ball game in Asia, it’s no surprise that your eldest is soccer-mad. In time, he might come back to Aussie Rules, and maybe Carlton. But could he ever respect Bryce Gibbs?

    Thanks for that. Hope all is well.

  9. Thanks Glen – Prices Hill Bowling Club sounds like something to look into.

    Hi Ang – its worthwhile persisting although we live in trying time.

    Mickey – nice to hear from you. I haven’t had the chance to occasion the Boomarang Bar since our last visit – it was the place to be to watch the Super Bowl apparently. Of all the teams to pick, he chose the Bombers? I guess for you that would be better than Port. How about the SANFL – your boys getting into the local footy? I totally agree about sport and code being irrelevant, I am very happy he is enjoying his soccer and is really getting into it all – so really I am still living the dream of getting to watch him start his sporting life. In regards to Gibbs – the youth these days are so shallow of course he would totally respect him and his t-shirt brand.

  10. Damien – took my crew to the game – by match end the youngest (9yo) had his Carlton jumper off and was leaning over the fence high fiving Buddy! If I didn’t laugh I’d cry! Good luck with your crew – there is a bit to look forward to once we can get over the damage inflicted by Mick’s jihad on behalf of Eddie… not to mention what the Board have done/not done in the previous 20 years.

  11. Great story Wocka! Hopefully your youngest will be high fiving Cripps and Weitering post match soon.

  12. Dave Brown says

    Good stuff Damien, can confirm first hand the loyalty ensuring qualities of Mr Betts

  13. Lovely. I was walking our 6yo to a school holiday “soccer camp” yesterday and he was telling of a friends Messi boots.
    I asked why they were dirty?
    No, dad, he’s a player.
    Dad, is Real Madrid a player?
    It’s beautiful watching the sporting imagination of young children unfold. You’ve a centre half back line!

  14. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    The trick here Damien is to get them to follow whatever you like, so that they ask you to take them.

    Then again, I ended up a netball Dad thanks to my three girls, so what would I know.

  15. John Butler says

    DJL, if they show signs of wavering just threaten to send them to stay with Uncle Elbow.

    They’ll see the light.

  16. Hi Dave, Dugald, Swish and John – thanks for your comments.

    Dave I am sure Adelaide would be loving Mr Betts.

    Swish – my daughter has started playing netball this year. Any tips welcome. She loves to play – not so interested to watch at the moment. Would help if there were some games we could go and watch I guess.

    Dugald – I have had many questions along the same lines. In Singapore there are no junior leagues or clubs to join so it is all mainly soccer schools that are branded (Arsenal, Chelsea, Barcelona). So my son after a couple of months at Barcelona likes to tell me about Barcelona tactics versus Chelsea tactics (where his mate goes). Its great to listen to.

    John – Mr Elbow has been a crucial cog in getting the support levels to where they are to date. The club itself have not been helping at all.

  17. Luke Reynolds says

    Good read Damien.
    It could be worse, your son could be into Rugby League. Or Essendon.
    Is soccer coverage in Singapore centered around the European leagues or does the local comp get a good run?

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