Round 2 – Geelong v Fremantle: Bub’s first footy road trip

It’s a 300km round trip from home in the South East suburbs of Melbourne to Kardinia Park for a footy overnighter. We are starting the longest road trip ever for our 11 month old daughter, fearful of its potential challenges. Luckily a nap is underway by Dandenong and she wakes on arrival! Phew!

We arrive early in case hubby’s muscles are required to help with the game day banner. His help is needed so, as Half Cat the mascot emerges to the tune of AC/DC’s TNT (Dockers supporters scratch their heads as TNT is the celebration song for the Dockers home games!) and the Freo players warm-up, what a boost for them. I sense they could win here again.

I get asked to go on ground to help hold a banner rope. My first on-ground assist since the 2013 Grand Final. What to do with Bub?  Three cheer squad mothers with over 75 years’ experience to mind her for 20 minutes. Gosh, I’ve only been parenting less than a year, they’re much more qualified… should be right.

Our banner goes up like clockwork and sets the tone for the Game ­– “Fear no foe, Never lay down, Fear no ground, Let’s own this town.”

I walk back around to our spot behind the goals and find Bub in safe hands; she only cries on realising her parents have been absent.

We sit amongst the flags and the floggers (those big pom pom things you see on the TV) in row B as the siren sounds. Bub refuses to wear her needed sun hat and sound reduction ear muffs preferring to experience the spectacle on her own terms and at her own health risk!

She munches on a milk arrowroot bickie through the first quarter. The score is close, Freo’s midfield tries their best to get on top of the play early. Stephen Hill and Matt Taberner convert a couple which keep Freo in touch.

Nathan Fyfe looks dangerous so an opposition play dacks him and the Freo cheer squad see more cheek than we bargained for.  Bub doesn’t notice. This opposition strategy is flawed it seems to fire up the classy midfielder. He kicks the first Freo goal of the second quarter in reply and takes ‘specky’ worth of nomination for mark of the round.

Bub opts to drink her afternoon milk bottle, changing parental laps as regularly as Luke McPharlin prevents Mitch Clarke from getting anywhere near the ball.

We watch David Mundy clear another pack carrying the ball with the precision he surely does his recently born son. Fremantle’s midfield is on fire.

The wind conditions make me nervous for the next quarter as we head into the main break. The small 12 point lead doesn’t register with me as we start discussing the impending nappy change.

My usual half time chat with my cheer squad buddies gives way to the parent room mini-hike. There are no options in the older sections of the ground. Some pre-match internet investigation of the venue website by Dad, replacing his usual read of pre-game analysis, seems to have found a baby change facility located equal to a trip half way home. The family quest for a dry bottom writes off the break! We get back to our seats after the siren.

Geelong close the gap to 5 points and Bub looks a little tired. I wonder if we may be subbed back to the motel early. But a rusk to Bub and a bit of flag waving as courtesy of four Fremantle goals in a row from Ballantyne, Barlow, Daniel Pearce and Pavlich keeps her entertained.

As Barlow kicks a goal late in the third the Freo lead feels comfortable at 41 points even for a nervous nelly supporter. Bub now bored opts to feed her father her rusk. It’s enough to send him hunting hot chips at three quarter time. New revelation… one bucket of chips doesn’t’t go as far between 3 mouths once your child works out they are worth a try! These are a sometimes food, Bub!

In the fourth we dodge misfired balls from Cat Tom Hawkins and a late goal from Clark. It does little damage to the final score. Maybe McPharlin needs a rest as much as Bub.

Barlow scores another goal after his marking tally reaches double digits (it’s 13 by the final siren) and Bub laughs as our cheer squad sing “Michael Barlow can he kick it” to the Bob the Builder song tune.

Michael Walters kicks Freo’s final goal and Bub waves her arms around in a tired, happy stupor.

With an inaudible playing of the Freo team song we all sing and Bub looks up squinting in the sun as the flags fly around her. Her first live Freo win, is a delightful 44 point victory. We hope many more will come.

My husband says he’s sure Mundy, Barlow and Fyfe have had 100 possessions between them. He’s right on, 106.

We walk to the car via another baby change facility and I explain to Bub she should be saying “Go Dockers” to anyone in purple and white. As I lift her into the car I hear Evelyn try some new words under her breath, “Go Dockers”, my heart jumps and I can’t help but give her a big hug. Her footy fan life is just beginning.

My match best: Mundy, Fyfe, Barlow

About Liz Roberts

Melbourne based Fremantle Dockers member. On Dockers bandwagon since day one. Former country newspaper reporter.


  1. You will remember this special day for your family forever. Take this from a 60+ year old nana. A family that follows a footy team together stays together…. you will always have that bond. I know our family does thru thick and thin, win or loose.

  2. Dianne Waddingham says

    Liz, that was great. What a shame I was stuck in bloody hospital and missed your daughter’s debut. Sounds like she has the “Go Dockers” chant down pat. I knew she was listening to me at letter cutting day!! Can’t wait for the opportunity to share a rusk with bubs at the next freo game and to find out who her favourite player is.

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