Once a year, on the last Saturday in September, I tend to doubt my credentials as a true Victorian. Yes, it’s the Grand Final of the Australian Football League. I just can’t get that much passion up about it any more. I don’t know if my apathy stems from the fact that both my parents were born in New South Wales, and regard the game with polite incomprehension. Cherryripe and I did play in the school “Little League” for a while, until we got in trouble for doing handstands against the goalposts.
For non-Victorians and non-Australians, the football of which I speak is Australian Rules Football, which is quite different to soccer, rugby (league or union) or gridiron. It is a peculiar game, played with a particular passion in my home State of Victoria. It involves an oval ball, lots of jumping in the air to catch the ball (called “marking”) and lots of goals (worth 6 points) and behinds (worth 1 point).
We don’t have a family team or any particular family loyalty. The team I chose at a very young age was the Richmond Tigers, because I like tigers. And, at the time, they were a very good team. However, I later defected to Hawthorn, because Cherry also barracked for the Hawks. It must be confessed that it was also around this time that the Hawks started winning premierships. And I liked Michael Tuck because he had a beard like my Dad.
After a four year stint in the UK, I found that I had no feelings for Hawthorn any more, and decided to go back to my original team, the Tigers, despite the fact that they were no longer great. I describe myself as a “lukewarm Tigers supporter”. My husband is perhaps worse. He was born on the border of Victoria and New South Wales , and moved all over the place. He barracks for multiple teams, generally chosen on the basis of what will most irritate the people he is with at the time.
Anyway, the last Saturday in September is traditionally the day of the Grand Final. The Saturday just passed was that august day. First, I turned the TV on in the morning, and the only subject was football, football, football. Yawn! There were lots of melodramatic voiceovers in deep ocker tones, with scenes of men jumping for the ball: “Yeeeees! He’s a true heeeeeeeeeeee-ro!” (and etc). All the pollies were getting in on the act in a smarmy manner. We had to go to a wedding this year on Grand Final day. Despite being a Hawks supporter, and not a fan of either of the teams playing, a friend’s husband was so aggrieved that he didn’t attend the wedding. I just couldn’t get up the energy to care. On the way to the wedding, I doubted my credentials as a True Victorian.
My husband reminded me of the time that he persuaded me that the Tigers were going to have to become the “Launceston Tigers” and how I almost burst into tears (much to his horror). He also asked me the following question: “Do you still hate Collingwood and Carlton”, to which the answer was “Of course I do”. After some moment’s thought, he said, “Would you care about the Grand Final if the Tigers were playing, instead of being at the bottom of the ladder this year?” (Alas, it’s true, the Tigers got the “wooden spoon” this year.) After some thought, I conceded that I would have found it more difficult to attend the wedding had the Tigers made the Final. I would have had to ring people to get regular updates. Perhaps I would have had to locate a TV in the reception centre. Hmm, maybe my ennui stems from Richmond’s dismal performance this year. C’mon Tiges, do better next year!
Okay, maybe deep down I am a true Victorian after all…