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Round 8- Hawthorn v Sydney: YOLO

A guy stepped off a train and shouldered his way Sydney-style through too much commuter traffic, words folding against his chest and re-opening themselves just long enough to be read: When men can be made to hope, they can be made to win. Footy season was only a week away when I noticed his sloganed shirt. All footy fans, in the weeks before the season, live in that brand of suspended hope that they and their team will be winners. By Round 8, it’s started to sort itself somewhat, between ideal and reality.

Swans supporters hoped like hell we would win Round 8. For all the buffed and tuned media chit chat, all the Zen non-attachment to past play, for all the refusal to give any leg up to an opposition still finding the top of its game again … reckon those boys hoped like hell they would win too. Sam Reid, very professional, called it the right mindset. The more maverick Rampe edged closer to the truth in calling the burning GF hangover motivation but was careful to camouflage his confession against the texture of individual goal setting. Smart boy that one; I like the way he plays the lines.

If hope is a cocktail of expectation and desire, wary supporters allow themselves to get more involved in desire. But players have to go as far as expectation. What it must be to get dressed in that each week in front of tens of thousands of people and wear it like you truly believe. Do many of us know what sort of muster that really must be?

Sitting down in front of the match on Saturday night, it occurred to me that part of picking a team and watching footy is the act of renewing interest in the business of hope. Weekly. Easy to lose sight of it day to day in this current version of world, but hello to the frame of the footy game.

Boys came out so hard. Early goals and early pressure, some kind of accurate thinking and doing. Kieren Jack looked the liveliest I’ve seen him in an age; Midge McGlynn looked healthy angry; Goodes looked pure and skilled, like the champion that comes out to run the really big race well. It was the kind of exposition that keeps the reader reading, the start that promised all versions of peregrination through hope and loss of it, win and loss of it.

 

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I came home from a day’s work in the gallery a few weeks ago, the grey and chill of my inner city suburb, the low take-off of big big planes going who knows where, launching their unthinkable flights across hours of sky, setting off to find my Cygnet in someone else’s family home, carers that group around when Dad is away for weeks. A worker from one of the nearby rag factories was heading home the other way. She wore a vivid purple t-shirt emblazoned with huge fluoro type: YOLO. The sort of tee I would usually dismiss as annoying acronymic text talk, but caught on a traffic island between port-bound lorries and suburban Subarus, the stark reality overrode the glibness. You do only live once.

But in footy you live at least once each week. These players rise week to week. Yes, they train full time. Yes, they are paid their hundreds of thousands to engage diet and recovery and massage and practice. Lots and lots of practice. But mentally and physically, how they rebound each week for the match-day contest—it’s venerable.

This Round 8 was—

Opportunity, here take it!

Ooh, missed it.

Opportunity, here it is again, take it take it!

Oh, missed … No! Got it, yep got it! Run!

Opportunity. Pass the bloody opportunity on!

Yep. Beside you! Score!

It felt like a stop frame of a whole life, played back at high speed. Over and over again. Contest after contest. On a loop. When those players fold in the frame at the end of a match—think Daniel Hannebery—I feel this overwhelming gratitude that they wring every bit of capacity from themselves and I vicariously glimpse what that type of intent can produce.

 

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A Dad at a supermarket organised his kids into the car. He wore a maroon square cap with patch-stitched lettering: OBEY.

Obey the hope, the effort, the instructions, the culture. We as outsiders are told over and over, that a champion team is about everyone playing their role, that patterns and geometry are in place to cope with nearly every possible happenstance of a game. Some games look as if that’s just about true.

Everyone played in place on Saturday night. Reid swinging like a toddler who’s just learnt the manoeuvre. Rampe kicking pinpoint long like Mal and Marty used to. Kennedy, Mitchell, Hannebery and Parker miraculously side by side in perfect rhombuses most of the night long. Grundy and Teddy high. Smith low. No need for the scoring superstar. He has other roles he can play. And the Captain appeared on the horse for the ‘one last chance’ fairy-tale ending.

That’s the rare magic of life, or writing, or footy, or … when things just come together. Most often, it’s enigmatic, almost hands off. A certain preparation is in place. And every now and then, it combines with hope and you only live once in that inexplicable melange, and your team wins by almost nothing, but fiercely. It’s a lesson in being awake and obeying life force.

Thank you, Swans. I appreciate it.

 

For more reports on the Swans win over the Hawks click here

About Mathilde de Hauteclocque

Swans member since 2000, Mathilde likes to wile away her winters in the O'Reilly stand with 'the boys', flicking through the Record and waiting to see the half backs drive an explosive forward movement. She lives in Sydney and raises a thirteen year old Cygnet.

Comments

  1. E.regnans says

    Hope, yes Mathilde.
    Such a personal and personally motivating force.
    We probably all get out of bed of a morning driven by hope (at least at some level).

    Well spotted with the YOLO acronym.
    Could OBEY not be an acronym, too?

    Grand language of a man shouldering his way through traffic.
    Love it.

  2. Superb Mathilde. And thank you for thanking the footballers. It is often overlooked. Most of them play hurt or sore each week. It must be a huge mental effort to be “up” for every contest of every week.

    I have a gregarious, generous, loyal, lunatic mate who used to sell real estate in Queensland (and yes he does have the crocodile skin boots). He has a T-shirt with the words “Those that can, those that can’t” across the front. Its so crass I love it.

  3. Thanks Mathilde, they deserve our thanks.

    On Board Every Year.

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Peregrination is such a great word. Another fantastic write up Mathilde.

  5. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    They do deserves our thanks, thanks fellas.
    Boy some of them work hard for their money!

    Yes, peregrination – such a great word, Luke. Did you see this? http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/may/29/from-plitter-to-drabbletail-words-loved-lost
    Excellent reading. Might even take a few of them for a walk myself.

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