The best game I never saw

Rotten, Gnawing, Lime-Green Jealousy.

There had been record rainfall. You hear that a lot, but sometimes it’s true. My team didn’t make the finals, so, fuck it, a mate and I went for a drive. The car was facing east when we got into it, so we drove east. It was that simple. No plans, no maps, no spare clothes. I was sooking. Anything to be away from football.
The rivers were full, maybe some roads would have been washed away, maybe not. I was a bit numb to it, not much really mattered.
Eventually, we found ourselves passing an oval somewhere in the Eastern Dividing Range, around 4.30 on a Saturday. It was still raining, but had eased enough to let the mists start rising.
The ground was stinking, liquid mud, goal-line to goal-line, boundary to boundary. The siren had gone. The change-rooms must have been side by side, because everybody was walking off in one big group, all of them head-to-toe covered in mud. Jumpers, socks, faces, everything. The only way we could tell the teams apart, was twenty-two of the players had massive grins on them.
My mate shrugged and drove on, but I’d never been more jealous in my life, and am still jealous today, some 20 years later.
It was the best game of footy I’ve never seen.

Even though I know I’ve played in 15 or 20 just like it.

There is a differnt sort of skill in games like that. A different sort of courage. A different sort of victory. AFL players have no idea what they’re missing. That day, those ten or fifteen seconds, continues to play out in my mind as if in slow motion, and will forever.
I’m looking forward to every bit of the up-coming season.


  1. Mulcaster says

    It is not even remotely appropriate but for a reason I cannot explain when I read this I thought of Eric Burdon singing “When I think of all the good times I wasted having good times”….go figure.
    It is a great piece, well written.

  2. matt zurbo says

    Cheers, Mul.

    Anything that reminds someone of Eric Burdon is a good thing. What an Animal.

  3. Adam Muyt says

    Matt, great invoking of the state of mind and physical reality of a mud-bath game.

    I always loved playing in mud as a kid growing up in Sydney(initially rugby league, later rugby). I wasa shit player but the conditons were a leveller, and the mud caking proved I’d got in to the play. And I always loved watching Sydney rugby league or VFL / AFl games played on muddy fields. A different set of skills from the players, often a less predictable outcome.

    One of my all time wet and muddy fav games was at Princes Park in 89, North V Fitzroy. 7,500 hardy nutters turned up. Not often you can say you recall every goal your team kicked but I can from that day: 1 goal. Serial reserve-grader, Mark Scott wobbled it through the big sticks from the right forward pocket, Sydney Road end. Fitzroy’s 1 goal 8 behinds was the lowest score in something like 55 years. Those were the days…

  4. matt zurbo says

    Top stuff, Adam! Rugby, footy, doesn’t matter. Mud is primal.

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