Round 8 – Hawthorn v Sydney: Neutral Supporters.

My mate Al came to visit over the weekend. Al lives in Hobart and barracks for the West Coast Eagles. Born in country NSW he grew up playing league. He copped the Tommy Raudonikis death stare when they were both eight. To fit in with the locals he adopted the Eagles while living in North Fremantle in the pre-Dockers days. Before that he was on Abrohlos Islands. And before that it was Elcho Island for a few years. There he was made a member of the tribe and still speaks the language fluently. I think he lived in the desert communities for a while. Sydney too. And maybe LA. He’s a true footballing journeyman. His only AFL experience is one game of kick-to-kick. Reckons he was nearly killed.
On Saturday afternoon Al went straight from the airport to Etihad. I rang him at the end of the game. He answered by breaking into the West Coast theme song. It’s not a good song. I would’ve preferred he whistled. I had plans to go to Sydney v Hawthorn. Nah mate, we’re watching on the telly.
With that sorted out he arrived around at my house with stories of Yeo and Priddis and Natanui. He was chipper. When your team wins every bit of footy media suddenly becomes vital. Al plonked himself on the couch, put the pregame on telly and shuffled through his phone like a steamboat croupier.
I’ve got another mate; The Woodman. The Woodman reckons that when you’re a neutral supporter watching footy you’ve got to wait for your body to tell you who you want to win. A short unconscious fist pump after a goal will usually be your clue. Not for Al though.
The first three quarters passed uneventfully enough. Though on reflection Al’s happiness with the Hawks’ missed set shots should have provided me with the warning signs. About halfway through the last quarter a full Bloods warrior exploded off my couch.
Al’s girlfriend is a Swan, but there was something else going on here. The Eagle’s win had opened up the Sherrin serotonin receptors in his brain. He’d had a rush of footy fairy floss and now he wanted to devour the whole candy store. There was one man standing between Al and a win for his now somehow precious Swans, Cyril.
In my lounge room stands a spear from the Tiwi Islands that was given to me when the mob was down playing footy many years ago. With minutes to go Al started yelling at me to lay the spear down. I did. The ball slipped out of Cyril’s hands in front of an open goal. Had I been the accomplice to a footy addict’s robbery?
The next day the Tigers were playing, but I couldn’t face it with Al. Besides my internet had mysteriously dropped out. I spent the match swimming at the hilariously named Harold Holt pool. I checked the scores my phone every couple of hundred metres. I proudly wore my new Maurice Rioli hoodie home.

About Chris Daley

Tiger fan Chris Daley works in Community Nursing, which has taken him to Perth, Broome and now Dandenong. Being tall, he used to get a game in the ruck playing bush footy outside of Warrnambool.


  1. Steve Hodder says


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