I realise, as TSFKA’s resident football tragic, the honour of writing about this Saturday’s coming AFL Grand Final should really go to Perseus – but I got in first so nyer, nyer.
I haven’t followed football for nearly 20 years now and I only attended a local match recently so The Boy could watch, but in my youth I was a mad Essendon supporter.
Saw just about every match with my dad and brother (Hawthorn), collected players’ autographs, knew all about the club’s heroes (Coleman). Then, for some reason (linked I suspect to my discovery of girls and Marx), I lost all interest. Went absolutely cold turkey and I haven’t cared since.
Which is not to say I underestimate the importance of footy in Melbourne.
Football was instrumental to the formation of class and culture, especially in inner-suburban Melbourne. Working class suburbs like Collingwood, Richmond and Fitzroy drew part of their identity from the performance of their team and any match against clubs from better-off areas (Melbourne) was always tinged with an element of class war.
Funnily enough, this feeling has never quite died. After the 2005 Grand Final, when West Coast lost to Sydney, I saw a house in St Kilda displaying this sign.
Hey yuppies. You can buy our houses but your team still can’t play football.
Football and politics was always linked, especially in Collingwood and many of those prominent in the local ALP and unions were also prominent in the local club, most notably John Wren.
Many writers (David Williamson) and academics (Ian Turner) have also written well and meaningfully about the game.
And yet, despite my lack of interest, I’ll still watch some of the match on the telly, between barbecuing dead animals and drinking beer on Saturday.
Some things never leave you.