Round 6 – Melbourne v St Kilda: Footy as a Neutral

It is a weird feeling to attend a footy match where you have no stake in the result. It starts with how you dress. When I go to see my Swans it is usually only my underpants that don’t feature Red and White – Mrs D has put a line through such purchases. Today I’m off to see the Dees vs Saints with my old school friend of 30 years Wayne, who is up from Wagga for the weekend and is keen to take in a game, while his wife sips on cocktails with friends at a laneway bar.

Despite our best efforts of text messages and phone calls it still takes us 15 minutes to locate one another outside the Ground. I’m flapping my arms like a cross between a big Brolga Bird and Harry Madden trying to get Wayne’s attention. He is cutting through packs of people like Diesel Williams. After an eternity I see the little half back flanker who hails from Mangoplah. A quick handshake and in we go.

No anxiety or stress today. I’m just keen to see a good game of footy. We grab our seats three rows from the fence. You can smell the Deep Heat. As we wait for the game to commence, one of the stadium staff asks for the attention of nearby rows. He does his best impersonation of a pre-flight briefing as he explains that we are sitting in the aisle that the Saints coaches will use to access the ground. Two rules he says:

  1. No getting out of our seats after the 25 minute mark of quarters – if we need to piss or grab a three week old pie we need to leave early, or risk getting shirt-fronted by Richo
  2. No derogatory comments to said coaches – even if the Saints are 20 goals down?

The Saints coaches, if on cue, from the flight attendant in training, bound up the stairs. I’ll be buggered if I can identify any of them bar the Senior coach, Aaron Hamil and Jamie Cox (the ex shield cricketer). They actually all are built like brick shithouses and would look more at home on the door of the Lilydale Hotel. I was hoping for at least a couple of ex Saints boys to be holding the clipboards – Couldn’t they give the ruck coaching duties to Lazar Vidovic?

A tight game early is consistently interrupted by a resplendently dressed gentleman in his mid 70s, who is screaming blue murder every time something goes against the Dees. He is particularly keen on the kicking in danger rule being enforced for the first time since 1987. He is irritating, yet entertaining at the same time.

After a quarter the young lass on my left taps me on the shoulder and asks who I am actually going for? To this point I’ve been having it a bit both ways and generally applauding good footy. She asks politely if I can get on the Saints train.

Its a good game up to the half time siren. Hogan is showing that class beats age, while Saint Nick is showing that you can still run like a gazelle in your mid 30s. It is a fascinating mix of old and new for supremacy. You can’t help but respect the way Nick drags his body from one contest to another. I feel like running him out a glass of port and telling him to just sit back and smell the roses.

A transformation comes across the game in the third quarter – the Saints are running the Dees of their feet.

Old mate in the row behind me delights in mentioning new Demons hope Petraccas’ name everytime he is within 187 meters of the ball. He tells his better half to wait and see what he can do. He holds his breath with every touch. I’m sure the kid will turn out to be a very handy player in time – today he looks a little off the pace, like most do in their first game.

The Saints are piling on goals quicker than my neighbor can record them in the record.

The resplendently dressed 70 year old Dees man a few rows back has had enough. He moves to the aisle and starts a tirade that would make a Union official blush. The young bloke behind me (sitting next to his 4 year old son) has had enough and tells him to sit down. Undeterred and with a look of anger on his face the Dees man asks why he should sit down? Because you are a pain in the arse, the young bloke fires back. At this point the Dees man turns a shade of red and I think he is about to throw a roundhouse. Its like watching a train-wreck, yet I can’t look away. Thankfully he cools his jets and sits down. No blood is spilt in aisle 16 thankfully. Such a show of reckless passion and anger seems so trivial.

The Dees it seems have also retreated to their seats as the Saints cruise to a well earned victory.

All in all a good day had at the footy. Seats close to the action remind me what a tough game it is. It was good to sit back and smell the roses, watch the crowd and just enjoy being at the footy with a mate. Something was missing though. Nothing can compare to watching your own team, riding the bumps and the highs and the lows. I’ll have to wait another few weeks until the Swannies roll back into town.

I stride out into the glorious Melbourne May sunshine, bid Wayne a fond farewell and head home, where my young scallywags will be waiting for a kick with Dad. Life is good.

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.

Comments

  1. I hear you Craig. I’m in Melbourne next week (Almanac lunch Friday- you in?) and will go to Carlton and Collingwood as a neutral. I love it. Detached and officially disinterested. Should be a great afternoon!

  2. Hi Craig,

    I watched the game in a footy pub in Osaka, Japan and enjoyed the game and win (I am a St Kilda supporter).

    The mighty Saints showed good efforts and touched footy well that made Paul Roos worried. His reactions at the coaches box would be entertaining for you, I reckon. I still can’t stop laughing when I see on my AFL Global Pass.

    Nick is a great player and his conditions are wonderful. I’m glad to see his marking and goal shows. These are my favourite entertainments.

    Cheers

    Yoshi

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