Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Saints Go Marching In

"Who's your footy team Bearsy?"

"Saint KILL-dah!"

So it goes. Some things are guardianship decisions, life matters that parents take it upon themselves to decide until the child rebels a few years down the track. Religion, or in our case lack-thereof, is another.

I'm not huge on any of the boofballs, neither is Beloved. I sort of see them as a proxy for a rather outdated form of group combat, the ball being a mere red herring in what is clearly designed to be an emulation of apes smacking each other with branches. Accordingly I prefer to strip away the veneer and go to the martial source, fascinated by all things hand-to-hand combat from the meditative qualities of Tai Chi, Bagua or Iado to the crunching realism of Arnis or Brasilian Ju Jitsu.

Beloved isn't convinced; she recently woke on the couch to find I'd 'accidentally' allowed cage fighting to appear on TV. "Revolting" she observed rather truthfully before going straight back to sleep.

Anyway, it's Melbourne, and the process of becoming Melbournians is inextricably wrapped up in our sense of ourselves as a couple. We moved here together shortly after hooking up in London, and here we've stayed, married, had children and now bought (touch wood!) a house.

The footy has woven its way into that narrative. We've started watching it together, picked a team (see above) together, rocked down to the 'G and sat in the stalls in the rain, huddled under plastic ponchos eating Four 'n Twenty meat pies, sipping (normally untouchable) Carlton Draught, whooping and cheering...

To the point where I'm tempted to find a local team to also follow, just for that experience- cars parked around the oval, honking horns with each goal, running onto the ground with the kids to kick a ball during half time.

I used to do the lefty thing and harp on about how soccer is the world game, domination imminent, and so on. It seemed sophisticated and inclusive. Nearly 3 years in the UK made me rethink that, and besides, why not take pride in a small vestige of local culture? There should be room for both...

So here it is. We've been here almost 7 years. The team we picked, St Kilda, were underdogs back then with some promising young talent. They've grown as we have. They've let themselves down more than once. And now, the first season in which Bear can actually tell you that what's on TV is "footy" and pick the colours of her team, we are in the final.

It's a rare experience, but I'm nervous and excited. I wouldn't bank the house on a win, Geelong (our family '2nd team'- a long story in itself!) appear virtually unstoppable. But it's still good to be in the final. A strange sense of bonding with long-suffering fans across the state, the nation.

GO Saints!!


Ann ODyne said...

My grandfather bought the St.Kilda dairy in 1934 when he moved from Hamilton to the big smoke, hence, my family tend to be Saints supporters.
Carl Ditterich was playing for them the last time i paid any attention, and these days the team's name conjures up Lindsay Fox and Ian Meldrum. I do hope they win, as the shock and excitement may stun Meldrum into articulacy.

Penthe said...

A local team is a wonderful thing. We used to go down and watch Morningside when we lived in Brisbane, with a thermos of coffee and some biscuits. For us, not the footy players. It's fun seeing some of the local lads grow up and turn up in the AFL. It's even funner hearing the taunts of very partisan local crowds (what colour shirt do you have UNDERNEATH, eh Ump?).

The Accidental Housewife said...

We shameless let Soph watch UFC and have since birth. We both enjoy it, but not in a bogan, black tshirt wearing kill-screaming kind of way. I appreciate the hard work and discipline required, and the sportsmanship. Invariably they fight cleanly, within the rules, and then are so respectful and supportive to each other at the conclusion. If Soph can face challenges in her life that that I would be proud. And please don't think this somehow advocates violence as a solution etc etc. These are organised, planned fights. The athletes aren't mad at each other! (Don't get me started on WWE though - completely different story.)

Armagny said...

TAH, quite right. I'm pretty self conscious about the dissonance between combat arts and trying to stamp out violence, but it's far more complex than first appears. In my experience while many, not all, but a large proportion of martial artists, including boxers, are dedicated soloists who go out of their way to avoid using what they've developed in 'real life', it is team sports (including soccer, including cricket even) where the egging nature of male tribalism brings out the worst.

Guy said...

Nah, there's no avoiding the AFL down here in Melbourne. When in Sydney I went to a few Swans games, but managed to resist the urge to be too interested in it. This season has been different - possibly in part because the tussle at the top of the ladder has been tight, but that can't be all of it.

Probably just goes to show what blanket coverage in the mainstream media can do. :)