Saturday, April 14, 2012

Loving the Inner Pariah

In my year of firsts, tomorrow marks a very particular rite of passage. Tomorrow, I'm going to my very first football match at the hollowed ground that is the Melbourne Cricket Ground - my first time viewing a game at this ground. This, after twelve years living in Melbourne.

I've only been inside MCG three times in the past - despite living in walking distance from its hallowed wicket. I went there for Alice and Dougall's citizenship ceremony, I ran around the ground when I completed my first Melbourne Half Marathon, and again, I popped in after the 2011 Melbourne Half Marathon - that's it. No reason to go there. It's a place of football and cricket - best watched on the television.

Also, by football, I mean what I call real football - not that soccer crap (boring - nobody ever scores, people cry injured like the sooky la-las at the drop of a handkerchief), not Rugby League (thick set thugs throwing the ball backwards and slamming into each other).

I'm going to the only football code that makes any sense to me.

Australian Rules.

See, thing is, as much as I like football - I get bored after a quarter or two. I tend to prefer to watch the football on the telly so I can get some other stuff done, checking the scores every so often and paying attention when the crowd roars (if I have the sound turned up). Just like with the cricket. If things get a bit exciting, then I can sit down and watch the quarter.

Some of this boredom stems from the fact that as a kid I used to man the scoreboard at the Myponga Oval when the under 13s used to play. Nothing more interesting that watching the Myponga Junior Colts play the Goolwa Loonies or he Encounter Bay Heathens. Real fun. Ended up with bronchitis more often than not sitting out that scoreboard freezing my butt off during the cold, wet Myponga winters. I associate football with hacking, wet coughs and low grade fevers.

The admission that I can't quite watch a full game will probably horrify many "true" football fans too. I'll admit to liking the game. It's nice to know that my team has won - I can normally tell rough scores and margins at the end of most weekends during footy season, like I can tell you where we are on the ladder - but that's where it ends. Don't ask me the names of the players - no idea. By the end of the match I'll tell you who has nice legs and a fine bum.

It's a game. There are 18 men running round in short shorts on an oval - what's not to like? But being a game, after talking about it for five minutes, I'd prefer to talk about something sensible - like books or movies or work or the news. If it wasn't for the hot men in the short shorts, seriously, I'd be ignoring the game completely.

Another thing that is slightly worrying me about going to this particular match. Blarney's partner, Barney, invited me along to the match with some of his friends. Barney barracks for Hawthorn. Being from Northern Tasmania, this is to be expected, as this is Hawthorn heartland.

Me, on the other hand, coming from Adelaide, barrack for the opposing team.

The Adelaide Crows.

There are some fundamental differences between Hawks supporters - okay, any of the Melbourne teams, and Crows supporters.

First up, I'm from Adelaide. I say things like dah-nce, prah-nce, vah-se, chah -nce - not daaaance, praaance, vayse and chaaaance. Allegedly, I'm the one who talks funny.

Second, being from Adelaide, it is in my genes to be parochial, snotty, insolently superior and generally misguided - or so my Victorian counterparts tell me.

Thirdly, being from Adelaide, I'm supposedly feral. Adelaide supporters are known to be little tinkers, as my grandmother referred to me when I broke her television.

By feral, I mean we are known for do things like keying opposing teams cars in the car park, throwing beer cans at matches, swearing a lot and generally being loud, obnoxious and unpleasant to be around.

I look at this description and I immediately think of Port Adelaide supporters - who make Adelaide supporters look like Cistercian nuns. Port supporters are the Collingwood/Millwall/(insert the lower socio-economic scumbag team here) supporters of South Australia.

This pretty much sums it up:

And this is quite accurate too:

So tomorrow, I meet Blarney and about ten of his mates, all Hawthorn supporters.I will be sitting there in my blue, red and yellow clothing, my Crows scarf and beanie (although it's allegedly going to be 27 degrees Celsius in the shade) looking at my freshly painted blue fingernails, hoping to hell we don't disgrace ourselves too much - as the rest of the people I'm with cheer on the other team.

The last match I went to we lost by 103 points. I was sitting there with friend hoping that Etihad Stadium would flood or be overtaken by another act of God so that the purgatory was over quickly.

I've never been to a game where we've won. The tidings aren't good.

Then there are the other football pastimes you're expected to partake in. Eat a meat pie and drink football beer at half time.

First up, I've never eaten a meat pie in my life. Allegedly made from horse meat - well, that is what I was told as a kid. They look and smell revolting - why should I start now? Footy food isn't that inspiring.

Secondly, the beer they serve at the footy is this stuff called "mid-strength". It's watered down beer and tastes like watered down beer. With all the new rules around bringing things into the grounds, I'm buggered if I'm paying a fiver for a cup of tea too.

I do have to go? Yes. I have to wave my team colours proudly - it's a matter of state pride. I have to show that I am a proud and loyal South Australian, even if I left there twenty-one years ago never to return for more than a few days at a time.

I know that I'll have to go and endure the endless jibes about Adelaide being the murder capital of the Australia ( But I lived there 23 years and I didn't get murdered once.), that you can go to Adelaide and find it closed on any given weekend or that although the place is 30 minutes behind the rest of the mainland in time, it's 20 years behind in fashion and almost everything else.

Okay, so it's not trendy to be an Adelaide supporter.

But it's what you do when you come from a backwater that's infested with white pointer sharks, acid wash denim wearing Elizabethans and gets less rain than some places in the Sahara. It inspires a misguided pride. It is where I come from. I am a proud flag waving South Australian. Fifth generation South Australian, me. It's something about me that's not going to change in a hurry.

Long live my inner pariah. C'ARN THE CROWS!!!

And pray that the Crow's winning streak continues - to date, we haven't lost a game this year, including winning the pre-season "Who Cares" Cup.



The Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pand,

Football (or "soccer" as you call it) really IS the greatest sport on the planet.

I watched a game of Aussie Rules many years ago on British TV and the game made no sense to me - just a bunch of guys beating each other up.

Still - whatever floats your boat.

Hope you enjoy(ed) the game.




Pandora Behr said...

Hi PM,

See, I beg to differ. A game of two halves where nothing ever happens is soccer. Aussie Rules at least somebody normally ends up in hospital for a bit. You just need somebody to to explain it to you... |-)

Oh, and the Crows lost by 56 points... first game we've lost all year.


Jackie K said...


Kath said...

I'm married to a full on, faithful, one-eyed Crows supporter yet I too struggle to sit through an entire game.

The times I've been 'live' I'm much more easily entertained by the antics of the crowd and bad food.