For some years there, I was a card-carrying member of the other AFL – the late Keith Dunstans Anti-Football League. In my defence, my footy-tragic husband had joined me up as a joke, but it was a good joke, and I wore the T-shirt and the orange, square-shaped football badge with pride, particularly when I went to watch him play.
It may be un-Australian, but sport has never floated my boat, although if you added up all the time Ive spent watching my partner and our offspring play, youd think otherwise. It was always about the family member, though, not the game. I often missed crucial moments in the match as I was watching my loved one in their little corner rather than the main action.
When my beloved heads off to the 'G, I prefer the nap, long walk, read-a-novel option. Once a year, however, I like to get in touch with my deeply buried inner Aussie and join him. And the Queens Birthday long weekend, with its gorgeous extra 24 hours to play with, seems like a good time to do it. So off I went to the match between Melbourne and Collingwood, with my packet of chips, apple and thermos of coffee.
This year is a bit different for our family as the Demons – the passionately supported team of most of us – are actually doing well for the first time in living memory. It seemed as though there was a chance of beating the Magpies, and who doesnt like doing that?
Sadly, that was not to be, not this time. Blokes in black and white were everywhere; it looked as though they had twice as many players on the field. They were a pleasure to watch – and that comment alone shows just how pathetic a supporter I am.
I was reminded on Monday that the things I enjoy most about footy are nothing to do with the footy itself. The ballet of the swirling seagulls descending in the last quarter. The thrilling vertigo of sitting on the top level of the southern stand. The wonderful fact that, unlike soccer fans in Europe, supporters of opposing teams can sit alongside each other without committing violence.
And that for me, its always about the people, not the game. Try as I might to become more interested, I only watch sport if people I love are playing it. I rejoice when the Dees win because it makes some of my favourite people happy.
Clare Boyd-Macrae is an Age columnist.––
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