Sunday, March 28, 2010

And so it begins...

I like cricket, but enough is enough.  The seasons roll on, and the sub-tribe of our nation whose holiest day is some day in late September each year have observed the beginning of the sacred rituals.  The AFL football season has started.

Most importantly, Collingwood has won today.  Things are well with the world in my home.

Fear not, gentle reader, for I am not a rabid, frothsome one-eyed supporter who cannot steer more than a few degrees off the one topic of conversation for the 22 rounds of the home-and-away season, nor am I the kind who feels that insulting the supporters of a rival club is a necessary part of the game.  It is simply that as a former Sydneysider, with little or no native appreciation of this fine sport, having met and married a dedicated ex-Melbournian (this is illegal in our original home states, so luckily we met and married on the other side of the country) Collingwood Magpies supporter, I have become a convert.  And one of the tribe.  I like it here.

OK, so maybe at first it was a bit of a bonding-with my-beloved thing, sure, and to be frank the rules and ways of the game are a little unusual for one who has not grown up understanding it.  But time weaves its magic, and suddenly one day I find myself wanting to know "when our game is on this weekend so I can plan around it."  That's when you know.

But crikey, doesn't it all get a bit much for some people?  This happens with any and every team-sport league all over the world I guess, and while the sort of mad fan-clan hoopla is a marketer's wet dream it usually doesn't do much good for the game.  Look at soccer in England.  And now it almost seems there's a whole silent majority over there secretly proud to have co-opted the term 'hooligan' all to themselves.

I just like watching 'my' team play, and especially win.  Winning is ace.  It must be said, for those who don't know, that until the maturation of the Fremantle Dockers as a newish team in the comp, and with the possible exception of Port Adelaide, Collingwood's supporters have enjoyed a reputation as some of the stupidest and ugliest (most prone to fighting and insulting other team's supporters) around.  Over time however, the ugliness is being washed out, while we proudly retain the stupid.  Stupid people are no less firm or fond supporters than those blessed with more sense.  And they can shout loudly, and have fun just like the rest of us.  Sometimes I think I am one.  Plus, everyone who loves the game needs a team to belong to.  It's not like you can barrack for the umpires.

Looking fondly at an umpire following a correct interpretation of the rules that in no way advantages the opposition or has any possible bearing on the outcome of the game.  Grr.

Irony alert!  This year, the AFL umpires are being sponsored by a leading firm of optometrists.  This should provide some creative twists on the "blind f**king umpire" jibes this year.

One thing you must accept when you take on the responsibility of having chosen Collingwood as your team is the historical precedents.  The most important of which is, for whatever reason this has occurred, you are now part of the team that "everybody loves to hate."  And also the hardest-playing, most nearly-won-the-premiership team in the league.  We last won the flag in 1990, and before that....anyway, there's the old joke about the Collingwood bra - "more support, less cup."  For indeed, it has always had a massive fan base, and is now also the richest club around.  Another irony really, because traditionally Collingwood (both the place, and the club) is the home of the 'poor battler.'

So please take this post as fair warning for the next many months, for much like any of my other interesting life parameters, this one crops up from time to time.  I mean, I get emotionally involved to a degree, and I'm only being honest here. 

For those supporters of other clubs, well, perhaps that's it for us now that you know.  I'll be sorry if you leave, for I mean you no ill will.  I'd just rather my team beats yours.  Every time they meet.  But in a great contest where we all got to see the things we really love -  a whole bunch of guys trying hard together to control a ridiculous ball with only one axis of symmetry within a set of arcane and byzantine rules and ultimately kick it between two big poles more often than the other guys.

It is, after all, only a game :-)

Carn the 'Pies!

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