Round 3 – Geelong v Hawthorn: Two Tribes – Easter Monday With The Nevilles

 

As the train from Parliament to Jolimont bubbles up out of the earth like an alpine spring, the first thing the occupant notices, after daylight, are the light towers surrounding the citadel on the right hand side.  Its an arresting sight, even for the initiated.

 

Wandering across the lawns, amongst the trees, towards the citadel, the occasional splashes of colour spotted in the throngs in the city moments earlier are now concentrated into the battle dress of the two tribes meeting here today: brown and gold verticals; and blue and white horizontals.  The contrast could not be greater; as if it were designed to be thus.  

 

I see a father and daughter, each in the respective and opposite colours of their tribe, strolling hand in hand towards the meeting place.  I see a young man in the indigenous version of the brown and gold colours, with the number 9 proudly displayed on his back.  It occurs to me that this is more than a sporting contest.  At some level, this is a statement of who we are, where we have come from, and where we are going.

 

Once inside the citadel, we take our seats.  Even though it is quite some time before the scheduled start time, the crowd is building around us.  Players appear on the vast green arena and commence the slow, orchestrated ritual of warming up.  A ten year old voice from behind me, shouts a loud greeting, by name, to a favourite player.  

 

“Ssshhh Jack” admonishes his mother, with an amused edge to her voice.

 

“I’M EXCITED!” he announces, at the top of his.

 

Me too, Jack.  Me too.

 

Music blares, players in full battle dress are injected onto the arena, and crowd participation immediately accelerates.  Play gets underway.  We find ourselves amongst the Negative Nevilles, who’s task is to loudly and repetitively establish what the players of their tribe are not doing well; which, according to the Nevilles, is quite a lot.  But there are also helpful and constructive voices.  As one player streams towards us with the ball, and his opponent pursues with the vigour of the outraged victim of a bag-snatching, someone helpfully advises, “CHASE HIM!”.

 

Despite the differing perspectives of the individuals which comprise it, occasionally the crowd responds with raw emotive unity; most often at unfavourable decisions by officials, but occasionally in response to the players’ talent, commitment, athleticism and wilfulness.  When two players from ‘our’ tribe burst into an open forward line with unstoppable speed and intent, the crowd as one – even the Nevilles – are on their feet cheering and waving.  When the goal is scored there is the sound and feel of surf breaking on a shore and we all resume our seats with gleeful expressions.

 

Finally, when the contest is ultimately resolved, the individuals which comprise the crowd progressively restore their everyday personas, and expressions of mutual respect – begrudging at first – can be heard being shared between them.  We all begin the trek away; some glowing in the contentment of victory and others disappointed, but satisfied with the effort.  Some way up ahead of me I see the father and daughter from earlier, still hand-in-hand.

 

Dusk is settling on the city like a cold, grey doona.  Roads are turning into rivers of yellow headlights and red tail-lights.  As I make my way through the lovely gardens and exquisite architecture of The Treasury, I fumble for my face mask for the tram trip north, and reflect on the strange fortune of our times, and the re-affirming delight of Easter Monday at the MCG.

 

 

GEELONG         3.3     6.4     9.7     10.9 (69)
HAWTHORN    2.1     3.5     5.7     9.10 (64)

 

GOALS
Geelong: Hawkins 2, Henry 2, Parfitt, Tuohy, Blicavs, Constable, Miers, Clark
Hawthorn: Breust 2, Lewis 2, Wingard, McEvoy, Koschitzke, Moore, Brockman

 

BEST
Geelong: Guthrie, Henderson, Duncan, Blicavs, Henry, O’Connor
Hawthorn: Wingard, Jiath, O’Meara, Scrimshaw, Phillips, Shiels

 

INJURIES
Geelong: Evans (ankle), Higgins (hamstring)
Hawthorn: Nil

 

SUBSTITUTES
Geelong: Constable (replaced Evans)
Hawthorn: O’Brien (unused)

 

Crowd: 50,030 at MCG

 

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About Danny Russell

Danny Russell, feet planted firmly in the island state, is easily led. "Scratcher" Neal led him to the Cats where his loyalty has remained (despite being sorely tested). The weekly magazine "The Story of Pop" led him to music beyond the focus of Tasmanian AM radio of the 70s.

Comments

  1. Marcus Holt says

    I can’t remember a story in the Almanac that didn’t reveal the writer’s loyalties before. This is a lovely evocative piece, capturing so much of the mood, atmosphere and excitement of the battle, inside and outside the G. I had to read your Bio to find out who you barrack for.

  2. nonshedders says

    Thanks Marcus. I talk about the crowd as if I wasn’t part of is, but – well, you know how it is. I’ve followed The Cats through some difficult times, so I’ve definitely been aboard for recent success. I had a great day on Monday, and big chunks of it were either side of the game, so that’s what the short piece focused on. But I promise, I was on my feet with everyone else for that moment you describe in your story when Jack Henry and Jordan Clark raced the ball forward for that goal!

  3. Marcus Holt says

    Yep, one of the most exciting goals I’ve ever seen. I love going to the footy with two great Cats mates. I go to a lot of games on my own but when we three go together we talk all the way through. When we watch a game on TV we sms constantly. It adds a whole other dimension and level of enjoyment to the game. As you say, and wrote about, going to the footy is a multi-layered experience, not all of it good it should be said, ala the Nevilles, but in 2021 I value it even more highly. That is saying something because my motto is “Too much football is just enough”.

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