Spring hopes eternal – a survival guide to September

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”

~Mark Twain

As winter slowly comes to a close, those chilly frost-filled mornings soon a thing of the past, life and colour return to our gardens. The grass grows a little quicker, while the sun’s warmth defrosts old Melbourne town from its grey and dreary slumber. Ah yes, the smell of freshly cut grass and blooming jasmine can only mean one thing…….FINALS! Though Mrs.Boot disagrees, insisting in fact that the coming of Spring is the more significant happening, it’s certainly the four weeks of September which heighten my senses!

As a Richmond supporter you may question my thinking. Only two finals campaigns have I witnessed, both ending in preliminary final drubbings. Of course I want my team to see finals action, yet the sheer anxiousness and the weight of expectation would see me completely unable to enjoy my September should the finals we make.

My clubs failure to penetrate eighth on the ladder has allowed me to become a connoisseur of the game come September, taking in all the atmosphere without emotional connection. I do get emotionally involved, but not to the the extent that my whole week is consumed by the result of a match.

I’ll often follow a team, but it’s the sights, the smells and the passion which stirs me. From heading down to North Port Oval on sun-filled days to stand on the terrace and watch some VFL finals to meandering around derelict past league grounds. I’ll often take in an MCG tour, and this year plan to spend a good few hours in the Sports Museum at my tour conclusion. I delve into old footy books and sift through my ridiculously over-sized video collection, watching a combination old grand finals, documentaries and matches involving the Tiges.

September sees me completely immerse myself in the game without the pressures and heartache of Richmond participating. So here’s my 10-point contingency plan should you be left this finals time without a team to follow.

1-Pick a team to follow- an obvious first point! Sometimes this is easier said than done, but it is well worth it, making the month of September that little bit more interesting. For me this year, it’s North Melbourne.

2-Get to some local footy finals. There’s the VFL at picturesque North Port Oval, but don’t limit yourself there. The atmosphere at local suburban and country finals is fantastic, with some  passionate and skillful footy played. And it’s a darn sight cheaper!

3-Soak it up. Take a stroll around Yarra Park. Do a lap of the ground and ponder all the magical finals moments that have taken place on the green bit of turf we call the MCG. Head down Swan St. Richmond for some lunch and then back into the city, where there’s bound to be some footy activities to indulge. Melbourne Sports Books on Flinders Street is the place for the footy bookworm, while there’s the odd exhibition of footy photos and artifacts if you keep your ear low to the ground. Federation Square is awash with all things footy should the rug-rats be in tow.

4-Make sure you book in the idiot box for Brownlow Medal night. I’m aware it’s not necessarily the most accurate award, but Brownlow night is Brownlow night. Make sure you’re not alone. Get a group together! It’s essential for everyone present to tip a top-10 for the count (no looking at the newspapers allowed), a winner and your clubs best. The more intricate points system you have, the better.

5-The Grand Final Marathon. Channel 7 once ran the marathon from Friday night into Grand Final morning, showing the great quarters of finals football since television has existed. Now that channel 7 no longer airs this you must show some initiative. I have most grand finals past lined up on video and DVD and some solid football documentaries such as 100 years of Australian Football or the Passion to Play. Everyone’s tastes are different, but it’s essential that you partake in this ritual. There’s plenty of time to catch up on sleep during the North Melbourne Breakfast!

6-The Papers. You’ve just got to devour them. This is the month to put away your digital versions and get your head stuck in to the sports section proper. You can even lash out and grab yourself a copy of Inside Football during the finals… you’ve just got to read until your eyes bleed. There is an enormous amount of information that you need to know.

7-Get your club’s list and a red pen. Look at the pros and cons for each player. Where’s the dead wood, do we give number 5 another season? Give each player a rating out of 10. Compile a list of keepers, possible trades and those you want to delist. Remember to keep your list handy so that you can compare your list-management skills with how your club goes about the off-season.

8-Hopefully you have a means of watching your team’s best performances of the season past again to warm the cockles of your being. I myself am still a neanderthal with my love of the video cassette, and will fill my off-season with hope in watching our wins again. Or for the realist, you can watch the losses!

9-Get some mates together and head down to the local park for a kick. This could be markers-up, impossible shots from the boundary or some semi-serious circle work. It doesn’t matter, as long as you have a go!

10-Finally, you could, I repeat could complete all those handy-man tasks around the house that the better half has been nagging you about these past six months. However, this can really wait until October, and in the meantime you can pray for another drawn Grand Final, giving you an extra week off the tools!

So there we have it, as Roy and HG so aptly put it, a “Festival of the Boot!” Of course, it’s a given that the wireless will provide you with your around the clock soundtrack to accompany the above activities! Look out for the Holy Boot’s guide to surviving the football-less months! In the meantime, I’ll leave you with the words of 17th century poet Anne Bradstreet, with her thoughts on the finals;

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”

About John Carr

First and foremost, I'm a Richmondite- 5th generation and dyed in the wool. I love the club, but also have a love for the game itself, and love to explore the cultural and social aspects of Australian Rules football. I am married with 4 kids, and also have a love of music, and run a small recording studio http://theholybootsfootballemporium.wordpress.com/


  1. Neil Belford says

    Ah yes – very familiar with the September without a team feeling – I love them too. But did you really mean St Kilda in point 1.

  2. Ah…that should most certainly say North Melbourne!!!!

  3. Andrew Starkie says

    get on board. go roos!

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