Round 7 – Gold Coast v Melbourne: Suns and Rain

The “Mother’s Day Classic” is a fun run or walk, held in locations throughout the country, to raise money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.  No prizes for guessing when it is held.  Last year, I made a promise to my 8 year old niece that in 2016 we would do the walk together (along with her family, and my Mum/her Grandmother), in her home town, Wodonga.  This is rare for me because I usually don’t make long term commitments like this without checking the footy fixture.  I was relieved to see that my Demons would not be playing at the MCG that weekend, instead travelling to the Gold Coast to take on the Suns.  While I would not miss a home game for the weekend away, I was already scheming about how I would try and talk the family into having dinner at the pub on Saturday evening so I could watch the game on Foxtel.

We drove north on Friday night, so that on Saturday morning I could watched my niece play netball.  The skills on display were raw, as you would expect, but some of the desperation for the ball, and the ability to pull in difficult catches would have shamed the 2013 model Dees.

While the fixture gods were kind, the weather gods were just teasing. While I needed sunscreen when watching netball on the outdoor courts on Saturday, the prediction was for 40-80mm of rain to fall on Sunday.  Not the sort of conditions we would want when celebrating Mother’s Day.  This meant Sunday’s BBQ lunch would be brought forward to a Saturday Night BBQ dinner at my sister’s place.  She doesn’t have Foxtel…

After the clock had ticked past 5.10pm, I saw my Essendon-supporting brother in law had the AFL App open on his phone to check the Swans-Dons score.  I asked him for an update – he told me the Demons were 26-8 down.  Oh well, still plenty of time to catch up. I return to discussing the mechanics of making friendship bracelets with the 8yo niece, and chatting about school with her 6yo sister.  At 6.10pm, I got a text message from a mate – “Time to rip up your membership. These @#$% are &%$#@ terrible”. I should point out that I’ve censored that SMS. Worried about a flogging, I checked the score on the Footy Live app. 50-43.  Wait a minute – we were only 7 points down!  What was he getting so angry about?  More texts arrive…

“We keep trying to link up with 8 handballs instead of kicking when we have safe options!”

 “So frustrating!”

Then the number under the red and blue logo flashed, and changed to 49 – we were only one point behind!  Next text message reads “We should be up by five goals!”. I don’t know what to think. Were we lucky to still be in it, or were we dominant but wasting our chances? Should I use my month’s 3G data to watch the second half on Foxtel Go?

Dinner was served.  Burgers, steak, sausages, and Mum’s pasta salad.  I resist the temptation to check the score, and instead I listen to my 2yo niece as she excitedly tells me about all the food on her plate, pointing to each item to tell me what it is and demonstrate all the new words she’s learnt in the two months since we last caught up – “Sausage”, “noodle” (from the pasta salad) and “yogi” (yogurt) for dessert..  Then the phone goes off again.

“9 goals in 15 minutes!” 

I seriously hope that’s in our favour.  I again open Footy Live to check the score and we’re dominating!  I return to the table, pour a glass of red, and resume the ‘discussion’ with the 2yo.  I check the score only once more before getting one last text.

“It’s a grand old flag!”

I spend the rest of the evening enjoying the company of the extended family, and then on Sunday we all completed the Mother’s Day classic walk in pouring rain, even the three young girls.  People held pictures of loved ones as they strolled around the lake at Sumsion Gardens. We heard from a survivor of 14 years who had recently received her third diagnosis.  We also caught up with a woman my sister’s age who had just been operated on.

It was the same operation my Mum had last year.

On Saturday, when I had asked my sister if there was any threat that we might not do the walk, given the weather prediction, she served up a big chunk of perspective:

I guess walking in the rain isn’t as bad as chemotherapy”.

Hmmm, good point. If 500 people in this little town – let alone thousands around the nation – can make the effort to get up on a wet, cold morning to raise money, then maybe by the time my nieces grow up, their chances of being affected by this illness will be significantly reduced and they won’t have to deal with what Mum went through, or even worse, what those poor folks holding the photo had been through.

Here’s to many more family BBQ’s. The footy can wait until next week.

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About Joseph Ryan

Lawyer, amateur sportsman, and full-time sports-watcher. Follows Melbourne Demons and Melbourne Storm and is trying to be better at golf.

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