Saturday afternoon at Docklands Stadium, Melbourne, big game between Geelong and St Kilda, the two emerging Victorian teams most likely to challenge for the premiership, and we were there.
We took advantage of some discounted flights on Virgin back in December and booked a weekend over east. I picked the date according to the best footy fixtures and the Cats V Saints always promised to be a big game, and so it was.
I love going to the footy, especially the rare opportunities I get to see Geelong play, though the last several times they've played in Perth have been very disappointing. It's always a combination of excitement and nervousness and Saturday was no different. The Cats started well but StKilda got on top and looked the more likely winners till deep into the 3rd quarter when all of a sudden Geelong flipped the switch and completely overran the Saints. It was a pretty amazing turnaround which left us (Carolyn and I) stunned and happy. Geelong powered home and StKilda, depleted by injuries, ran out of legs and replacements. We had some interesting company at the game with StKilda fans either side and Geelong fans in front and behind. The bloke on my right was loud in his support for the Saints then surprised me by confessing that he wasn't a StKilda fan, he actually barracks for Collingwood! When I said he was giving a pretty convincing impression of a StKilda supporter he said, "when you've got a lot of money riding on the game you tend to get pretty passionate"!! Later in the last quarter when Geelong were clearly going to win we had this exchange, Him "hard to win from here", Me "I've lost all respect for you", Him, "You thought I was a real diehard didn't you!" He took his double loss fairly graciously, unlike the bloke on the other side sitting next to Carolyn who was the typical ugly football fan. Full of vitriol, criticism and swearing, nothing the opposition did was good or skillful, instead it was just luck or the umpires favouring them, no decision against his team was ever right, no decision the umpire made was correct, even if it favoured StKilda it was met with "What about the last one you #$@%*ing idiot!" or some such obnoxious outburst. He looked on me with a combination of disdain and disgust, and when StKilda started losing he became aggressive and nasty. Thankfully he left before the end of the game, not prepared to stay for the final siren. I'm not suggesting this is exclusive to StKilda supporters, there are people like that who barrack for all teams, including Geelong, and it's always ugly. I'm a passionate footy fan and Geelong supporter who takes losses hard, but I'm also willing to acknowledge other team's, good players, and good and bad umpire's decisions. At the end we were left with the Cats fans, the family and older ladies behind us who shared their home-made hedgehog, and the ladies in front. one of whom, a Kiwi, was at her first AFL game. What a beauty she chose and what a great team she picked to barrack for. "I loved it" was her response when I asked her what she'd thought of it.
I loved it too, though I was still a bit breathless at the end, and my voice still hasn't recovered!