The Footy Diet: No AFL for three weeks and I feel great!

Standing in the rain in the dark on the Jolimont platform after the Collingwood debacle, I felt sick. Not just pissed off. Physically ill. Nauseous.

By the following Friday, as I contemplated another round of AFL, my emotional state hadn’t improved. I tried to listen to the pre-game on the radio, but it was just noise. Blah, blah, blah. Watched bits of Freo v Tigers either side of Phryne Fisher, but cracked the shits when it was announced Richmond had four out of the next five Friday nights. Effing rigged fixture!

Alone in front of the fire, I had the proverbial light bulb moment. This had to stop. I wasn’t enjoying the footy. I needed a break.

Initially, I planned on having one week off. North were playing the Eagles in a Sunday arvo ‘home’ game in Hobart. Pretty easy to avoid.

We took Eloise to Werribee Open Range Zoo in the morning. We rode the bus, checked out the animals and Eloise squealed in delight. We ate sandwiches shivering in a little African hut.

I went for a ride along Merri Creek path, then spent the afternoon wrestling with Eloise on the lounge room floor. I hardly thought about the footy and felt relaxed, lighter, like an unnecessary weight had been lifted.

I switched on for the news just before 6pm and to my surprise discovered the footy. There were three seconds to go, the umpire bounced the ball, the siren sounded and North players threw their arms in the air.

Good win, I shrugged.

I enjoyed my time-out. So much so, next weekend, instead of heading to the Dungeon to watch North and the Swans, we travelled home to Warrnambool for mum’s soup and so I could attend the inaugural ‘Legends Night’ at my club, Old Collegians. Marty Ryan, Peter Healey, Barry Walsh, Ray Primmer and Stephen Brooks were rewarded for their dedication on and off-field and I had a great night catching up with old footy and school mates. Sunday morning, I chatted about the Almanac with a young Collingwood fan over a cup of tea in the Church foyer. Can’t get that warm, fuzzy feeling at an AFL game.

I was on a bit of a roll and enjoying life. The sun was shining, birds were singing, and I had almost forgotten the droning sound of Matthew Lloyd’s voice.

And suddenly I had more free time and brain space to contemplate things other than how free agency is turning the AFL into the EPL or the fact North only has two games at the G per season.

I became a basketball expert overnight and jumped on Della’s bandwagon. I’ve despaired at the politics of fear in our country. Laughed at how even though Hilary and Jeb are doing their best to shed their families, politics in America is like an episode of Dynasty. I declared Obama has had enough of this shit. I Defended QandA. And importantly, pondered over whether I find Emma, the yellow Wiggle, intriguing or a little disturbing (still undecided).

I’m still getting my footy fix, however. Summoned by the pied piper’s whistle, Eloise and I have headed around the corner to catch the Burgers, with kick-to-kick between quarters. Another sunny morning, I stumbled upon a heartwarming match between two intellectually disabled teams.

Last Saturday the house was empty and I was at a bit of a loose end, so thought Why not and walked up to Brown’s on Sydney Road for the GWS match. I lasted one stubby and one quarter and went for a stroll and found a nice Thai soup. Afterwards, I checked the scores on my phone and wandered into the Post Office Hotel and caught Spoonful, an upbeat Bluesy Rock quartet, sitting comfortably somewhere amongst Mellencamp, Cochran, Lewis and Berry. The place rocked and I walked home feeling light and breezy.

North have the bye this round and I’m heading to the ‘bool again for Rat’s 50th at the surf club. There’ll be plenty of footy talk, but to be honest, I enjoy talking about other things these days.

I’m not lost to AFL footy; but for the moment I’m enjoying the peace.

I’ve re-jigged the work roster so I can catch North and the Cats at the Dungeon week after next. I’m sure I’ll have my mojo back by then. I’m determined to enjoy the night and when Waite gives away a 50m or misses a crucial shot late in the game, I will (hopefully) pause, breathe, and remind myself it’s just a game.


  1. Nice try Starks but you can’t fool me or yourself. Its not just a game. Its way more than that. The Cats losing to the Dees last week, in Enright’ s300th, still disturbs me. You feel the same about your beloved Roos. I know you do.

  2. Still in the throes of my own existential crisis with the Bombers and ‘elite’ footy myself, Starks. I feel you.

    If it’s at all possible, get down to some VFL, Ammo’s or country footy. Good for the soul.

  3. I am with you, Starks.
    These days, if was given the choice to watch a C Grade Ammos game featuring Willy CYMS or a North Melbourne game, I would take CYs 9 times out of ten.
    On the 10th occasion, I would go to see North just to see Waite make a fool of himself yet again.

  4. And thank your lucky stars that you are not on twitter.

  5. Andrew Starkie says

    I’ll come back when Cameron Ling agrees to stop talking. What are my chances? Even the good ones drink their own bath water.

  6. E.regnans says

    Love it, A Starkie.
    Grand to find a path. And to tell about it.

    “there’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…”

  7. matt watson says

    I routinely divorce myself from footy – during cricket season…
    In 1986 I didn’t go to one game of football.
    But I watched, listened and read about it.
    These days, it is so ingrained into my psyche that the weekend revolves around football.
    I can’t do cold turkey.
    No matter how bad North is going, I have to know, watch, read, absorb…

Leave a Comment