I love the first round of the footy season. To be more specific, I love the first five minutes of the first match of the first round of the footy season. For just five minutes, we’re all equal on zero points. The premiership is within grasp for every team- even the wooden spooners, who this year happen to be my team, St Kilda.
Oh dear, I think that it’s going to be a very long season or two or three for my Sainters. I confess to shedding a tear when we were beaten in our last Grand Final appearance in 2010 , fearing that I probably won’t live long enough to see them win another flag. I saw ‘another’ advisedly, because they’ve only won the premiership once in 118 years as an inaugural member of the Victorian Football League. Some years ago my children bought me a limited edition St Kilda poster which was part of a series produced by the AFL showing the number of premierships that each team has won.
Such elegant starkness, that one premiership. Not tacky and over-crowded like some of those other teams’ posters.
Anyway, first round and a rare phenomenon in recent years: a match at the MCG on a Saturday afternoon. Mr Judge barracks for Melbourne, and I suspect that this year I am going to have to look for comfort to Richmond and Melbourne, my two ‘second’ teams. So off we toddled to the ‘G on a balmy April afternoon, with the leaves in Yarra Park just beginning to turn, the slight whiff of bush burn-off in the air, the sun warm but not hot.
The AFL has repented of its sins in recent years by scheduling more matches at the MCG, lowering the prices of pies and, it seemed to me, reducing the number of nagging announcements about what you CAN’T do at the MCG. One thing I didn’t like, though, was the neon-lit injunction to ‘Make a Noise for the Demons’ that ran around the fence surrounding the oval before the match. They had similar announcements at the baseball match we went to in Toronto back in 2011, and I remember thinking that at least football fans didn’t have to be instructed to barrack. Maybe not.
Well not yesterday, anyway because what a match it was! You had the feeling that -perhaps- this is a football club that has languished at the bottom of the ladder for a few years just beginning to stir! “It’s a grand old flag….”
And look at the ladder proudly headed my two ‘second’ teams !
It’s not really being disloyal, is it? I’m just having a little flirtation while my true love is away on a very, very long holiday.