How to Watch Footy, part 14
Spotswood v Port Colts, Essendon v Gold Coast, Williamstown v Essendon...
FOOTBALL'S a crutch. Saturday afternoon I pedal up to Spotswood on my trusty Kona Sutra (yes, that’s the name of the model of the bike) to see the Woodsmen seven goals up half-way through the second verse. I catch up with a mate, Paul, a former Amateurs player, who speaks like a poet. Modern-day footy, he says, is like bees around a hive. Rugby (union or league, take your pick) is like water moving up and down a bath.
At three-quarter time Port Colts eschew the group therapy of modern huddles – teams of six players talking about structures – and gather as one bunch around the coach. They get in closer and closer with each exhortation until they’re almost cheek-to-cheek. It’s as if they’re gathering their energy and spirit and hope into as tight a ball as possible. “You won the quarter!” the Queen Bee says. But they lose the game by six goals.
Paul and I walk past a 10-year-old boy hobbling on crutches, his right foot bandaged. The boy calls out to two kids having a kick behind the goals, “Can I have a kick?”
“That’s the definition of optimism,” says Paul. The kids give their small footy to the boy on crutches. He holds the ball in his left hand, drops it to his left foot and does a nice five-metre kick. He’s won not just the quarter, but the game.
Dancing in the Dark
Saturday night I catch the last quarter of Essendon versus Gold Coast on the telly, after watching RocKwiz. Watching footy after watching RocKwiz is like, what? (Sitting in the bath as the water goes down the gurgler? No. Best to leave the poetry to Paul.)
A fundamental question: music or footy? Which provides a better emotional rescue? Which gives more satisfaction? Which better mends a broken heart? Which is the better crutch? I absent-mindedly watch the Bombers win by eight goals while still humming the duet from RocKwiz: Deborah Conway and a bearded busker bloke called Passenger doing a tender version of Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark.
Into the Mystic
Sunday afternoon I’m doing the scoreboard for Williamstown versus Essendon but down the road at the local RSL there’s an afternoon of Van Morrison songs, featuring Joe Creighton. I’m pressing ‘goals’ and ‘behinds’ but I’m mentally humming Cyprus Avenue and Madame George and Caravan and Cleaning Windows and Gloria and Wavelength and St Dominic’s Preview…
Williamstown take control in the second half, kicking ten of the last 12 goals, and win by 55 points. I hop on the trusty Kona Sutra and pedal home past the RSL, where the Van Morrison tribute show would be finishing up. It’s too late to stop now.
Votes: 3 to the boy on crutches at Spotswood, 3 to Paul’s poetry, 3 to Cyprus Avenue, Madame George, Caravan, Cleaning Windows, Gloria, Wavelength, St Dominic’s Preview, Moondance, Hard Nose The Highway, Bright Side of The Road, Full Force Gale, Angeliou, Domino, Crazy Face, Crazy Love, Into the Mystic…