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Round 20 – Sydney v Collingwood: Mates

Old Mates & Old Foes

 

‘Mateship’ is a concept that can be traced back to early colonial times. The harsh environment in which convicts and new settlers found themselves meant that men and women closely relied on each other for all sorts of help. In Australia, a ‘mate’ is more than just a friend. It’s a term that implies a sense of shared experience, mutual respect and unconditional assistance.

 

I’ve been mates with Shep since we were pre-teens, growing up together on the sporting fields of Orange. For over twenty years now, we’ve leant on each other through the good and bad. A big part of this mateship has been the Sydney Swans. From the moment Derek Kickett sauntered through our high school gates alongside Jamie Lawson to teach us the art of kicking a drop-punt – to a 6am cycling trek across the cobblestoned streets of Dublin to find a TV showing the 2005 Grand Final – to sitting together at the MCG though the pain of last year’s decider. We’ve gathered many a memorable Red & White moment together, and we’re hoping that tonight will bring some good fortune.

 

This one’s been planned for a while – Swannies v The Pies – Friday night footy – SCG.

 

My great mate and I liked the sound of this as soon as the fixture landed. We’ve got some old scores to settle with some old foes. For year upon year, a black and white army would descend upon Homebush for their annual collection of four points. Sergeant Major Malthouse would orchestrate a blockade upon the Swans’ fifty-metre line. Impenetrable. The ambush of the home side’s goal would then arrive courtesy of an artillery battery including Corporals Didak, Cloke and Thomas. Resistance was futile and my team was often left to dust off and approach the match with nothing but forlorn hope. This would only result in some last ditch ‘Guerrilla tactics’, all to no avail. And this dominance did not only occur on the battlefield, but also in the stands. Commodore ‘Joffa’ Corfe, would arrive in the black and white stripes, revel in three hours of tyranny and leave, rejoicing in his sparkling golden coat. As regular eyewitnesses to this insufferable treatment, the pain felt is still palpable. Thankfully, we’re not in Homebush tonight.

 

Our regular SCG routine includes a pre-game refreshment in The Entertainment Quarter. Tonight we are joined by fellow Bloods Almanackers and the scene is set. Conversations focusing on our courageous heroes provide a genuine sense of belonging that you get when you’re surrounded by your own. As I return with a beer for my mate, his look of trepidation causes the thought that he might have never quite forgiven me for lacing a glass of milk with fish sauce as he sat parched on my parents’ couch. Those were the days. These times when we get to share in a laugh are not so common these days, and I treasure them more each time. As Henry Lawson once said – The greatest pleasure I have known is when my eyes meet the eyes of a mate over the top of two foaming glasses of beer. A little dramatic perhaps, Henry, but I understand.

 

Right. We’re in. Come on Swannies! Up the Bloods!

As the game begins, it is clear that this battle will be tough and tight in the clinches. Not unfamiliar territory for the Bloods at the SCG. From the outset, our mindset seems sound and The Pies, who are playing for their season, look committed to the cause. Tonight will be a bruising affair.

 

En route to the match tonight, Shep and I decide to place a wager on the first goal scorer for the evening. We’re unanimous in agreement on the selection of our young star, Heeney. When he takes a fine contested grab in the fourth minute and lines up for goal, we begin to count our cash. We’ve placed many a wager together over the years, and this one unfortunately joins a long list of unsuccessful attempts at gaining instant wealth. Joey nails our first a few minutes later, and we’re away.

 

After a sluggish start, The Pies begin to work their way into the match, looking as comfortable in residence at Moore Park as they did at Olympic Park. At half time we’re up by a goal, and remarkably, Tommy Mitchell has already had the pill twenty-seven times. There’s a certain charm to seeing young players debut, develop and then dominate. This is the case with our nuggety number six and we love him. The third term sees the lead change hands for the first time tonight and the black & white enjoy a period of domination over our beloved red & white. Gaz stands up with two outstanding goals, and when the great man, Goodesy snaps truly, all Swannies stand as one! At the final break, we’re nine points down.

 

Sadness envelopes the forty thousand faithful at the beginning of the last quarter, as our reigning Best & Fairest lies crumpled on the turf. Parksy is one tough nut, and if he stays down, there’s clearly something wrong. He’s stretchered off, Heeney’s hobbled, Gaz is sore and Laids is already subbed out. It’s time for some leadership, and our men of action do not disappoint. Our bevvy of onballers wrestle back control, and Jets, Reidy and BJ finish off their work with some fine slingshot goals. Your writer is delirious and dancing in the aisles of Bay 12, high-fiving strangers on the way. We’re all mates here.

 

Eleven points to the good as the siren sounds, and this has been the gutsy, gallant victory that we needed. As Shep and I make our debut in the famous SCG rooms post game, the solidarity felt inside these walls becomes abundantly clear. With liniment stinging the nostrils, family and friends gather to share in the celebration. Players mingle, some past greats chat with old friends and the mood is buoyant. I’d always imagined a footy club to be perhaps the epitome of mateship: reliance on each other to ‘get the job done’, and then to share in the spoils. This privileged rare glimpse into the inner sanctum of The Bloods has only confirmed this. A wonderful win and a wonderful night filled with fondness, affinity and benevolence. It’s time for my mate and I to celebrate too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Joe Moore

Learned the art of the drop-punt from Derek Kickett as Jamie Lawson watched on. And thus, a Swan for life. @joedmoore1979

Comments

  1. Bec. Blossomvictory says:

    Omg, such a romanticised piece of footy story, Joe!! Couldn’t agree more — ‘a footy club is the epitome of mateship’; it’s not only abt kicking a goal, but so many endeavours making this happen; success always involves good team work and failure has different causes. Felt like a footy club is a final spiritual church, here, standards and all great original human efforts have been found in a match VS that increasingly confusing and upside-down outside world. Perhaps, Australian Rule football is the last mass sport, which allows imaginations to flourish freely!! (To a certain extent, ‘Unfortunately’! …) LOL

  2. Joe Moore says:

    Thanks Bec. They must be great places to be a part of.

  3. jan courtin says:

    Hi Joe
    I hadn’t realised you missed the 2005 premiership! Hopefully you witnessed the 2012 one. Terrible injury to Parkes isn’t it but hopefully we can string the next three games together, whilst gaining some percentage, without him. Those Bulldogs are a bit of a worry, sitting just above us. We can only hope.
    Thanks

  4. Joe Moore says:

    Hi Jan,
    I was living in Dublin for the ’05 flag & the ’06 GF as well. Nothing was going to stop me from being at the MCG in ’12 and what a glorious day that was! Really sad for Parksy, he just gives his all. Bulldogs are playing great footy, hopefully we can hit some better form for a final push this year. Fingers crossed hey.

  5. Peter Flynn says:

    Good stuff Joe.

    That was a terrific night at a great great venue.

    Felt for Parker.

    McVeigh? Lots of the ball but may have lost his kicking leg.

    In Heeney you trust.

  6. Phillip Dimitriadis says:

    Nice one Joe. Gutsy win by your Bloods. G.Rowan’s two goals were pure class. If Tippet can get fit and if Buddy fires up anything’s possible in September. Cheers.

  7. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says:

    He might have lost his kicking leg AND his standing leg P. Flynn.
    Lovely to be part of the pre-match warm up, Joe. Glad you had a great weekend. And a win to wax lyrical about.

  8. Joe Moore says:

    Thanks Phil. Your Pies were good, as they have been for most of the season. All too familiar for you I guess.

    P Flynn & Mathilde – Cheers. Very enjoyable night with the pre-match Bavarian Beverages very much part of that. Met Heeney post-game, great kid…I may be developing a new man crush. I’ll still take McVeigh with one leg!

  9. Keiran Croker says:

    Good stuff Joe. Great to catch up at the Bavarian with the crew. I can feel a tradition emerging!

    Hopefully that hard fought win can spark us to bigger, better, Buddyer things!

    Henney will be fine as long as he does not cut his hair!

  10. Joe Moore says:

    Thanks Keiran. A tradition may well have been born…

    Terrific hard fought win, some bright news today on the injury front, plenty of improvement ahead… Who knows?

    We both know Heeney’s locks are not going anywhere!

  11. E.regnans says:

    Sounds like a solid night, J Moore.

    Through Collongwood eyes, I was surprised to lose that.
    But then, I’ve been surprised v Freo and v Hawthorn and v Port all recently, too.

    McVeigh kicks goals even when they’re touched off the boot.
    Handy.

  12. Joe Moore says:

    Solid indeed, ER.

    As I said to Phil, story of the season for your Pies. Brave effort from my boys in the last though. Even in the twilight, Macca is creating magical feats!

  13. Nothing like going to the footy with a mate, Joe.
    Re Rohan: will he forever be injury-cursed?

  14. Joe Moore says:

    Agreed Smokie. Nothing like it. Especially with a win involved.

    I really hope not. He’s such an important player for us, still young with so much upside. Hopefully injury free for a while now.

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