The People you see at the Playground, Identified by their AFL team

It’s a mid-winter Saturday in Melbourne at an inner-city playground. With the temperature in the low teens, you rug up your youngsters and send them off into the fray. While you maintain the correct level of supervision, you can’t help but take in the surroundings. There is a heady mix of adults and kids of all ages.

During this observation, you notice that each group’s behaviour seems to dictated by their football team of choice.

(Ranked by pre-Round 20 ladder order. Victorian/teams with Victorian roots only)

 

Hawthorn

In the far corner of the playground area, surrounding the BBQs, a family event is occurring. Three generations are present and a pleasant buzz surrounds the crowd. The first-time parents in the group have smiles as shiny as their puffy vests as they ponder waiting lists while the 20-something cousins ask each other how many beers they want.

“Get me four mate”

“Sure you don’t want three?

“No mate….FOUR” he says, as he waves his hand around with his thumb tucked under his outstretched fingers.

The grandparents in the group seem content with the world and have figures that suggest a single-figure handicap. As the oldest of the group sips on a pinot, his youngest granddaughter appears with the long blond hair of Alice and the smile of the Chesire Cat.

“Are the Hawks going to win today Pa?”

“Of course they will sweetheart. They always do!”

As the girl runs away he turns to Melbourne-supporting son-in-law

“I’ve seen all thirteen you know”

“Yes, I know Sir”

 

Sydney

It’s a grandfather/grandson bonding session by the swings as ‘Ocker’ gets some quality time in before he heads off to watch ‘The Borough’ at North Port Oval. A South Melbourne resident of 50 years, he reminds the lad for the umpteenth time that there was an era before Buddy, Bazza and Plugger. Whilst fond of the swings, this twosome hasn’t ventured to the roundabouts for years.

 

Geelong

Darting in and out of the equipment are four kids aged between four and 10 – two boys and two girls – and their poise suggests they could all surf better than you. Standing nearby are an intriguing couple – he seems to rank appearance rather low on his list of priorities as his perennial board shorts emphasise a slight paunch over the drawstring. His partner, meanwhile, has apparently arrived direct from a Quicksilver modelling shoot.

You talk  to them for a while and you feel more relaxed instantly. He reckons he’s surfed with ‘Danger’ maybe six or seven times this year and he’s just a ‘normal bloke’.
Western Bulldogs

The nicest family in the playground by the length of the Flemington straight. Hailing from ‘Yarraville’ (which in reality means anywhere from Spotswood to Hoppers Crossing) this husband and wife combo can’t wait to tell you about the Sun Theatre and Sunshine’s first million dollar property. As their obscenely polite daughter offers you a sultana, you marvel at how understatedly happy they seem….That is until the Hawthorn gathering again catches your eye and you think ‘hmm…that does look like fun’.

 

Nth Melbourne

“Excuse me!”

You’re startled out of your gazing by a shortish, barrel-chested man with two youngsters in tow.

“Can my girls go on the slide? You’re blocking it and we can’t use it”

In your daze you hadn’t realised that you were hampering this stranger’s playground experience.

“We just want to go on the slide. We’re not asking for much!”

“OK mate, sorry about that. We were just moving away.”

“Oh OK, so now it’s my fault you’re moving? I tell you what…same old story when I come to this place. We’ve been coming here for years and now everyone wants to move in. I can’t get a car park, there are food vans everywhere and don’t start me on the toilets. I sent a letter to the council about that, but of course no-one listens to the little guy….”

 

St Kilda

As you compose yourself, you’re thrilled to see a familiar face on the other side of the monkey bars. ‘Waz’ was a local footy teammate of yours a decade ago and is a veteran of fifteen footy trips, with the final one also acting as a ‘head wetting’ for his twin girls, now aged 4 and in tow.

You shake your head in amazement as you witness this wild stallion being tamed by the love of his family. Whilst six years ago you mused whether his smartphone should be placed next to Phar Lap at Melbourne Museum, he’s now happy to be in a public space at 10am and not be waking up with a kebab in one hand and his trousers in the other.

 

Melbourne

Expecting a Range Rover reference? Well there isn’t one…because Dad has taken it to the snow.

With him away, Mum and Grandpa are facilitating a kick to kick with the next Daisy Pearce. High marking and long bombs are the order of the day as the ponytail flies.

After half an hour, Grandpa leaves them to it and takes a breather. Soon enough, he’s locked in an engrossing conversation with the Bulldogs couple. He agrees that real estate in the west provides an excellent ROI and commends them on their purchase. The conversation continues cordially until something occurs to him:

‘Oh’, he says, ‘you actually live there?’

 

Collingwood

Like the club they support, these residents of Abbotsford spend a great deal of money trying to appear working class. As they fill their toddler’s bottle with almond soy milk, they promise him a trip to the Children’s Farm and assure him that the grapes are organic. As little Romy speeds off, they pull out their respective Android phones to determine their brunch destinations. Much like their president’s humour, their t-shirt choices seem stuck in the 90s.

 

Richmond

Out the corner of your eye, you see a kinder-aged child on the see-saw. As you look closer, you notice that there is no-one on the other end and her eyes are staring downwards. Ever so slightly, she extends her legs to rise, only to fling her feet out from under her to slam herself to the ground again. You keep staring as this ritual is repeated over and over.

On the nearby park bench is a male in his 40s who you can only guess is supposed to be the supervisor. His face is also pointed downwards, with his eyes fixated on his smartphone. Concerned, you move over towards him with a view to see if everything is OK. He barely looks up as you stand beside him and you can see he’s playing Pokemon Go. You then politely suggest that he should keep an eye on the see-saw. He barely makes the effort to grumble at you, so you leave the scene.

As you get a few steps away, you hear a barely audible, “at least I can win something on this”.

Ouch.

 

Carlton

You know this couple well, having been in the same pre-natal class. For six months leading up to the birth, they told everyone that they would be terrible parents and that their friends should ‘reset’ their expectations. By the time their son was born, you were conditioned to prepare for the worst. Lo and behold, after a couple of months, they have dubbed themselves ‘Parents of the Year’ and attributed all their anxiety to a cantankerous uncle who is now off the scene

 

Brisbane

It’s been a tough year for the lady from your wife’s mothers group as her beloved Lions have battled from the first day of the season. Of course, being a Fitzroy fan originally, she’s made of rather strong stuff.

As you chat away cordially, you notice that her son has just learned to walk and is therefore prone to the occasional face-plant. He wanders through the sand pit, onto the grass then onto the rocks and emerges slightly dazed and confused while his Mum ponders whether Leppa will last the season.

“Oh you’ll be fine,” she says as she prepares the pram for departure, “you don’t know how good you’ve got it”.

 

Essendon

Bloodshot eyes, goal-post white skin and a hood pulled over wispy air, this shell of a figure supervises his son in the sand pit.

Swaying from side-to-side, this gentleman seeks solace in the simplistic play of those around him. It brings much-needed warmth to his soul.

As he ponders the scene, a middle aged man sporting a cardigan, a beret and questionable facial hair hands him a flyer. It’s an ‘educational’ piece…on the dangers of vaccinations.

With one right hook, the cardigan is now doused in crimson and the beret is in the sandpit.

…and the only sound in the playground is the clinking of glasses from the BBQ area.

 

 

Author’s Note: Apologies to our non-Victorian friends, but I’m not well versed in the lazy stereotypes of your teams. Feel free to add further characters in the comments section.

 

About Andrew Else

Andrew has self-reported to this site as a lifetime Essendon supporter. He also played local footy for Lara and Melbourne Uni Blacks.

Comments

  1. thoroughly entertaining Andrew. I love the North Melbourne scene…..hilarious!

  2. rabid dog says:

    Absolutely hilarious. Especially about Collywood.

  3. kath presdee says:

    Allow me to put through the lazy stereotype for my team.

    GWS

    You’ve heard about that family that moved in a few years ago, but you’ve never actually seen them, so you’re not really sure they exist. But a number of other families never stop whinging about how since *that* family moved in, life has gotten harder and harder and it isn’t fair.

  4. Sarah Black says:

    Very dry and very, very funny. I recognised myself immediately in the poor little girl on the see-saw, who stupidly raises her hopes over and over again, despite knowing the painful consequences that will inevitably follow.

  5. Andrew Else says:

    Thanks all and special thanks Kath. That rings very true

  6. Nic McGay says:

    Love the theme, Andrew. Need more of this on the Almanac. Re your call for non-Victorian contributions, I’ll leave you with an account of how a West Coast Eagle would roll in the playground:

    An elderly couple take a seat on the park bench to rest their weary legs. The couple, who had their only child late in life, gaze lovingly at their pride and joy as he dominates the play equipment, much to the adulation of his playmates. Almost imperceptibly, their eye twitches as the apple of their eye, accompanied by the child of a known underworld figure, head toward the toilet block with a packet of Whizz Fizz. As their child returns the play area, their affection for him remains undiminished, so long as keeps claiming best-on-playground awards.

  7. Andrew Else says:

    Thanks Nic. That’s a cracker!

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