By Andrew Fithall
It’s not easy to fully celebrate your team’s progression into the Preliminary Final when people you love are commiserating their loss.
I watched this game on my own, having stuffed up the MCC on-line reserved seat bookings and left myself without a spot.
In the hullabaloo that is on-line ticketing, I had booked a couple of MCC guest passes for my Geelong-supporting daughter Ursula and Collingwood-supporting son Herb with their Geelong-supporting mother Helen, also a member, out in the open on Level 1. I had inadvertently (I am sticking to my story) left myself off the booking.
Our oldest Collingwood-supporting son Bill was all organised to watch the game on-line on his holiday in Turkey.
Our Collingwood-supporting daughter Audrey was planning to watch on delay from upper New York state – the game coincided with a compulsory early morning training session. Her challenge was to stay away from all social media and watch the game without knowing the result.
I left work just before four o’clock and joined the MCC queue about half an hour later. Spotted a bloke I went to school and uni with, who is now Principal of St Joseph’s College down in Geelong - he must have got an early mark from his boss (!) to get there at that time. On entry, I proceeded to Level 1 and found a single seat. Then went to the Blazer Bar to await the arrival of the others.
Banter on the family group messenger was in overdrive. Much of it targeting me. Drinks in the Blazer went down well – Helen reckons Friday night beers at the footy are the best tasting beers. The arrival of her extended family meant that Herb and I were seriously outnumbered by Geelong supporters.
As start time approached we separated and went to our seats. I was there in time to see the arrival of the Collingwood team led out by 300-gamer Scott Pendlebury. The single seat next to me was vacant and the umbrella that the occupant had earlier left was also absent. My quarter time invitation to Helen to join me was ignored.
As the game proceeded, the woman on my non-vacant side was quietly supporting Collingwood. She was actually a Brisbane supporter. I missed having family members to disagree with about what was happening on the field. The on-line chat had gone quiet – perhaps in support of Audrey’s endeavour. Helen asked if I was enjoying myself. With Collingwood in front it was still not time to crow. Far too early.
At half-time I met a couple of friends at the Tower 6 bar, but I wasn’t looking for any more beer. Prue is a Geelong supporter, but it is not always obvious. Steve barracks for the Hawks. I forgot to thank him for what his team had done in Perth just a couple of weeks earlier.
After half-time Collingwood scored just two more goals. They did not score at all in the final quarter. From my seat I had a clear view of the countdown clock in the coaches’ box. I thought about relaying the information to those downstairs, but they had ready access to the hard-copy placards being held up in front of the teams’ interchange benches. It would have been as the 30 second board went up with the Pies more than a goal in front that the Collingwood cheer grew lustier.
Post siren I didn’t loiter. I knew the Geelong supporters wouldn’t be hanging around and, having earlier abdicated driving-home responsibilities, I couldn’t be confident the car would not depart without me. Somehow there was a communication breakdown and Herb headed for the train.
The car drive home was conversation-free. There had been some amusement that Audrey had “accidentally” found out the result, but there was little other joy in the car. I don’t think the car heater could work hard enough to counter the chill. When the ABC post-game broadcast finished early to go the cricket, my suggestion that we find another football station was not well received.
The Pies are in the Prelim. Bill will be back from his overseas venture and will come to the game. Herb has to check his finances to work out whether he can afford the ticket. Helen and I will go to the Cats semi-final against the Eagles. Ursula has a social/sporting clash and has to make a decision.
I will be barracking hard for the Cats. A win will make for a happier household.
Andrew Fithall grew up in Ballarat and now lives in Williamstown with Helen and his tribe.
GEELONG 1.2 4.4 5.6 7.9 (51)
COLLINGWOOD 4.2 7.5 9.7 9.7 (61)
Geelong: Miers, Tuohy, Rohan, Parfitt, Menegola, Dangerfield, Kelly
Collingwood: Elliott 2, Adams 2, Stephenson, Pendlebury, Howe, Hoskin-Elliott, Sidebottom
Official crowd: 93,436 at the MCG