The Hawks looking for oxygen

I recently obtained a new oxygen machine which includes a backpack and two batteries that last for about five hours each*. This machine has brought a new independence to my life, so I decided I would be brave and attempt an evening at the footy to see my team play the Cats.  It was Round 12 and both teams are in a good place at the moment.


The day was planned to the max to ensure that the batteries (and I) were fully charged.  I had to return a hire car in the morning but blew the planning when I managed to get lost in Thornbury. It reminded me of the time my husband and I reported to our family that we’d bought a house in Thornbury. The border kelpie cross, named Hilton who lived in Hilton Street, really enjoyed the house, AKA a kennel no less.


Anyway, back to the footy.  I caught the train into the ‘G – something that would have been extremely difficult in years gone by.  Up to the Long Room for dinner where I bumped into a colleague. She didn’t support either team. I think she was on a date with a lovely physiotherapist who barracks for the Cats.


Dinner done. Wine enjoyed. Right; gloves and scarf on and out to the beautiful members.  The Hawks gave much hope. They were first out. They won the toss. And they scored the first goal. Buddy looked like he was well recovered and we Hawks were near heaven.


As someone famous once said, it was a game of two halves.  Or to be more precise, four quarters.  The accuracy of both teams by half time was something delightful that hasn’t been seen much in the AFL lately. The combatants were a goal apart.  I went hunting for the good coffee to prepare myself for the inevitable premiership quarter. Returning to the members, I sat adjacent to the reserved area for committee members. Those rugs thrown over empty seats looked much warmer than my skim, weak extra hot coffee!  And oooh, is that Peter Knights there?  His hair is still as golden as the golden haired player that he was.  If it was him.


Hawthorn’s premiership quarter went according to plan. The Cats didn’t score any goals but the Hawks scored four. We were ready for a ripper of a last quarter. As I said, it was a game of four quarters – sadly, no score for the Hawks in the last quarter although it is my unbiased opinion that Buddy should have been awarded a free kick in front of goal for the blatant push in the back. I still respect the umpires, however. The Cats managed three goals and the odd behind to win by five points.  And Roughie was carted off on a stretcher and is most unlikely to be fit enough to play for the rest of the year. My suggestion is that we get him off to Lourdes tout de suite.


I’m sure my pal, an editor of The Footie Almanac and a Cats’ supporter, can describe the match more exquisitely than my struggling prose. But can I add some paint to the event, remembering I haven’t been to the G for a long time?


The crowd in the members was quite unusual – well, for me given that I haven’t been for a while. They arrived to their seats late. Not just a handful of them, but a truckload of them. So they were looking for their seats while the match was under way.  Surely they weren’t serious about the footy?  Should we be admitting these semi believers, especially to the members’ reserve?


I didn’t hear any wags either. You know the kind: “sit down in front” to whom the inevitable response would be “stand up in back”.


Then the really intriguing thing.  There were about five young women around me who were thinner than anorexics and who kept running off to get more chips and pies than the entire Diamond Valley league could eat in one sitting. It was a psychiatrist’s couch, really.  And of course they weren’t sitting on the aisle; they had to disrupt the line of everyone’s sight while they climbed down the rows to get out and then back to their seats.


There were a few men in front of me whose prostates need checking. Yes it was cold, but the mother in me says they should be off to the urologist this week.  They had more wee breaks than kids on a road trip. Remember, it was an edge of your seat game, but still they had to rush (sorry) off.


Finally, the man in front who was also on his own was an intriguing character. He didn’t say much but his emotion was overwhelming. The final quarter should have been terrific for the Hawks – he was single handedly instructing them at the 30 minute mark, advising that they didn’t have time to stuff around in the back line.  When the siren eventually sounded, he ripped his beanie off, threw it on the ground, and went over to sit in one of the empty committee member seats, talking to himself and shaking his head. What was all that about?  Where’s that psychiatrist?


So, it’s all over and I’m off to the station to get the train to my hotel. People were smoking at the station and were uncomfortably close to my oxygen machine.  I had to keep moving to ensure nothing exploded, which was a tad difficult in the crowd.  Once on board, I headed to the disabled seat.  Two able bodied blokes were sitting in the disabled seats, and when I asked, the younger one jumped up and gave me the seat.  The older one complained and continued to take up three quarters of the space.  I wish nothing but evil upon him.


The most staggering change in footy crowd behaviour was this train.  By and large, the carriage was quiet with a couple of people speaking about their footy tips.  The rest of the passengers were texting or listening to their radios. It’s a dramatic change from the seventies to the early noughties when complete strangers would loudly analyse the game in morbid detail.  The entire carriage would have been contributing.  And the Brownlow awarded.


I did it though. All on my own. No help from anyone. I loved it, even though we just lost.


I think I’ve got a photo of Peter Knights. I’m worried about the anorexics and potential prostate cancer sufferers.  And I’m not sure whether the social fabric on the train is good or  bad!


I hope my colleague had a good date though.


*Despite being a lifetime non smoker, Anne Cahill Lambert has a rare lung disease which can only be cured with a lung transplant.  She is  a lifelong Hawthorn supporter and was one of the first female members of the ‘G.  Her pal, one of the editors of The Almanac, refers to her as The Hyphen which is a little intriguing when she doesn’t have one.




About Anne Cahill Lambert

One of the first females to be admitted to membership of the G. Thank you Mr Cain. Nicknamed The Hyphen by Alamanac Editor, despite the fact I don't have one.


  1. Richard Naco says

    Hyphen (great nick, btw, especially as it’s so far off the mark): To be perfectly honest, what makes a great footy story is not the blow by blow bits that we can pick up on the AFL site or through any number of meedja sauces, but the stories of the how and why of the people that really count. The fans.

    The story of your challenging yourself to escape outside is far more entertaining and real than any discussion of how many points Lance Jnr should be awarded for his dive (joke), and I have loved reading about it. I also look forward to the next installment, when you can probably share what it’s like going to a Hawthorn victory (almost certainly).

    By the way, the bloke who went off muttering to himself after the game _was_ the psychiatrist, and the coven of attenuated stick insects who kept on eating were actually mobile life support systems for tape worms. Possibly from Box Hill, but most likely from somewhere on the Sirius spur line.

    Who needs reality?

  2. Rick Kane says

    Hi Anne

    Thanks for your article. I enjoyed and chuckled at your observations of fellow primates in this great zoo.

    It was a terrific game even though we lost. My (9 y.o.) son is a Cats fan and he was talking it up and giving us heaps in a cheeky, loveable way. After the game we got talking to Cats fans in front of us. As they left one of them whispered in Jackson’s ear, “go easy on your old man”. I think that captured the spirit of the game and rivalry and the appreciation of the the wafer thin difference in team chances for the Premiership.

    Now, the Mighty Hawks just have to stay fit and injury free for the next 4 months!

  3. Hyphen – wonderful tale. Well done on getting yourself there and back. Iwas at the game and thought it was an odd crowd too. Must have been a full moon. I was standing the whole game and had different people next to me in every quarter. Where were they all going? So many transient souls in the world. It couldn’t have been me because I showered before I left.

  4. Rick,

    I am quite happy for you to give the ‘two’ Freddo Frogs to your Cat supporting son.

    I collected the four Chokitos on Sunday morning (hand delivered to the front door) but the Caramello Bear Hawks supporter seems to have forgotten.

    I feel sorry for Roughead, having just recovered from a snapped Achilles tendon.

    I gave Buddy ten out of ten for the dive. It would have done justice to Greg Louganis but drawn a yellow card in the round ball game

  5. Mark Doyle says

    An interesting report on the game, Anne. However, I am often bemused at the lack of objective and balanced written reporting of games on this website. The same assessment applies to reports of games in the newspapers and other websites. It is often a bit too subjective and self indulgent! For me this was another great contest and Geelong’s luck in being in front at the final siren was greater player depth and excellent last quarter efforts from blokes such as Mackie, Johnson,Scarlett and Selwood. The rivalry between both these clubs is great for footy in Victoria and balances the traditional Victorian rivalries between Collingwood and Carlton and Essendon. I love the rivalry between Geelong and Hawthorn which has evolved over the past 50 years with grand final contests in 1963, 1989 and 2008 and some great contests in the past few years. In last lasts game, I thought our (Geelong’s) best players were the regulars: Ottens, Bartel, Kelly, Enright and Corey; good defensive efforts from Taylor and Lonergan; an excellent cameo performance from Podsiadly in second quarter and good solid performances from younger players such as T. Hunt, Duncan, Vardy and Menzel.

  6. Pamela Sherpa says

    Hi Anne , crowd behaviour can be as fascinating and annoying as the game itself sometimes..I only get to one or two games a year and like you have noticed the change. Not everyone goes to watch and only watch the football these days . It bugs me that those who want to watch often can’t because of the constant stream of people getting up to get food and drinks while the game is on.

  7. Stainless says

    Interesting observations about the crowd. I sat behind a group of about half a dozen young people (guys and gals) and through the first half, their procession to the bar, during play, was constant to the point where I threw my arms up in frustration and suggested it was a footy match, not a pub. As it turned out, they were a group of Irish folk out here on working visas and experiencing their first AFL game. I forgave them slightly after I found this out, but I think the point is well made about the lack of focus that crowds have these days. Don”t even get me started on cinema patrons….

  8. johnharms says

    Mark, I encourage self indulgence here, if that’s what some writers seek. And if that is what frees the spirit. There are no rules.

    Anyway, I find most pieces subjective rather than self-indulgent, but that is just a personal view. Happy to argue the toss on any topic. And to hear story telling. We get plenty of both.

    If you want cold, hard analysis I am happy to direct you to various academic journals on the sociology of sport and there is a whole landscape of cultural studies publications which have the capacity to drain the life from things.

    I’ll back the writers on this site to the end of the earth, especially if they’re likely to buy me a beer.

  9. johnharms says

    Rick, Similar crowd sentiments where we were sitting. Good natured. Apart from one bloke behind us who had his tongue loosened by the truth syrup and wouldn’t make the invite list if I were having a party for 6 billion people. But apart from his language and the latent frustration in him, he was pretty harmless.

    I empathise with latent frustration although I’d advise hitting golf balls or chopping wood as better therapy, rather than getting angry at umpires.

    Good evidence of the good-natured crowd around us was the general disappointment from the supporters of both sides when J. Roughead went down. It took something from the game. I’d say there was considerable empathy in Section 25. (We must not have been far from you).

    And yes, if you slow anything down enough on TV it will look like a free kick. Had Buddy not dived, the free kick would have been paid. Paradoxically, live, the dive took the focus from the hands which were in the general vicinity of Buddy’s back.

    I think Jack McBurney is a great umpire and had I had more time I’d have nominated him for the Queen’s Birthday honours list.

  10. Rick Kane says

    Hi Phantom

    I will pass on the Freedos to said son … and then ask him to share. I will then watch him eat both. Roughy was dealt a roughy no doubt and I think you’re being a bit rough on Buddy.

    And Harmsy, piss funny point re the umpy.

    Let’s reset our compasses for the next enthralling encounter. When Hodge will fire up!

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