The reluctant Catwoman

Wifey is from footballing stock.  West Coast of Tassie footballing stock.  Her dad and his three brothers together racked up 2000 games for Gormanston and later, Lyell-Gormanston.  Porkus (Wifey’s Dad) was courted by Footscray, which resulted in Wifey’s Mum becoming a die-hard Doggies supporter from that moment onwards.  Porkus can’t have thought much of the offer, as he’s always followed the Demons; a curious choice of club for a West Coast tradie.

Porkus’s Mum died quite a few years ago.  I recall her telling the odd story about her ratbag sons, but the yarn that sticks in my memory is the story about volunteering to wash the football jumpers for all the Gormy boys in an old copper boiler, and then trying to get them dry in the liquid climate of the West Coast.

Porkus was blessed with girls.  Beautiful girls, but neither of them ever played senior football.  Wifey and I have given him grand-daughters of whom we and he could be no prouder, but as yet no interest from the AFL recruiters.  Porkus occasionally gathers with us at the side of a netball court on cold autumn mornings, but the game confounds and frustrates him in its intolerance of a bit of biffo.

Wifey and I met more than 20 years ago.  Vicariously, she’s endured the Blight years, the Ayers years, the Thompson years and all the anguish and heartbreak that came with it.  She stoically commiserated (“Get over it”) after the heartbreak of ’92, the pounding of ’94, and the unspeakable of ’95.

In all our years together, the closest I’ve seen her demonstrate an allegiance with any team was for the all-conquering Brisbane of the early millennium, and she claimed that allegiance by way of once having shared a high school with a skinny Alastair Lynch.

Of recent times, I’ve sensed I might be winning.  On Grand Final day 2009 we shared a lounge room with a Saints fan who was – in her own terms – giving her the ‘irrits’.  Ever the antagonist, she became a vocal and ardent supporter of the Hoops, and surprised even me with her knowledge of the blokes in blue and white.  Not that I lost it, but I think Max Rooke won her heart that day.

I lured her to Kardinia Park for Gary’s last home game there against West Coast at the end of 2010.  A couple of months later she rang me from work to say that she’d been studying next year’s fixture and planning a return trip for the Suns’ first away game down there.

At the beginning of this season, Lingy came to town and had lunch with Wifey and I (and about 88 others).  He charmed us all and stayed for photos.  I now have a photo of Lingy and Wifey:  my two favourite redheads.

A few weeks ago, on Easter Monday, I positioned myself, with a sense of nervous anticipation, in the lounge room at home for the annual Geelong – Hawthorn grudge match.  As the match got underway I felt a tangible knot of tension in my core.  It turned out that the knot was more than just tension, and by about half-time I was covered in blankets and shivering uncontrollably on the couch.  I had to retire to bed to try and get warm, and soon drifted off to sleep.  Sometime later I woke and could hear the rhythm of football commentary from the lounge.  While straining to catch enough actual dialogue to determine the state of the match I heard Wifey’s unmistakeable voice,

“No Pods, no, get out of there!”.


“Come on Jimmy, thats more like it”.


“Yes!  That’s the way, Pods.”

I heard the siren, a loud exhalation of relief, and the opening horns of Bizet’s wonderful tune.  All was well.

That she has encouraged me to show the quarter-by-quarter replays on the loungeroom TV confirms her metamorphosis into the reluctant catwoman.  I sometimes wonder whether her acquired allegiance might outlast the playing days of Jimmy Bartel, but just recently my spirits lifted considerably when I heard her say,

“Cam Guthrie’s fitting into this side well, isn’t he?”

About Danny Russell

Danny Russell, feet planted firmly in the island state, is easily led. "Scratcher" Neal led him to the Cats where his loyalty has remained (despite being sorely tested). The weekly magazine "The Story of Pop" led him to music beyond the focus of Tasmanian AM radio of the 70s.

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