Long and exhausting – and, yes, weak - is the list of excuses for why I do not attend as many games of footy at the MCG as I should.But there is one reason: my team rarely plays at the home of football these days. Many seasons ago, North Melbourne chose to play its home games at the stadium on the other side of the city.
For Kangaroos-supporting MCC members of my vintage, having been brought up on a smorgasbord of Friday night football, this was a most unpalatable decision. Nowadays, North is fixtured to play at the MCG only twice a season. Which meant that there would be no excuses for me not attending last Saturday’s match against Collingwood. There was also an added bonus for me: even though I would be meeting up with a group of mates, my 21 year-old middle son Brendan asked if he could tag along.
When it comes to attending football matches with my three sons, I have always been of the belief that there is circuitous three-phase type of route I must travel. The first phase was taking them to matches when they were small children bedecked in blue and white stripes. The second phase was them entering their teens and early adulthood, heading off to matches exclusively with their mates and girlfriends. The third phase, of which last Saturday was - hopefully - a tentative first step, was them reconnecting with their dad in a footy sense.
Unfortunately the enjoyment of meeting up with my son at the footy was tempered by Collingwood’s complete demolition of our team. North have exceeded my expectations this season, but on this day they are poor, and hopelessly outplayed by their opponents. I suspect that even the most staunch of Pies supporters would surely have been disappointed that the Kangaroos did not offer so much as a whimper in the contest. At quarter time we are slightly deflated, but during the second term nearly all of the air is squeezed from our balloon. The match is over half time, at which point I suggest to Brendan that our spirits might be lifted if we adjourn to the Bullring Bar.
Although I mourned the passing of the old Bullring, I admit that its contemporary version has grown on me over time. And of course, its access to my favourite spot for watching sport at the MCG – the standing area in front of the pavilion – is more than handy. We both say hello to respective friends and acquaintances whom we pick out in the passing parade. Then, during the final quarter, it is time for Brendan to leave. He has things to do, places to go, a social calendar to fulfill.
North Melbourne’s insipid performance meant that the Roos would most likely not be returning to the MCG this season. But that does not mean I will not be returning. For hopefully Brendan, and maybe also his brothers, will provide me with a very good reason to get back to the MCG. North Melbourne will not be playing. But as I realised last Saturday, these days that it is only a secondary consideration.
Smokie Dawson is a sports lover from way back. He can be found cheering on the local teams at Fearon Reserve in Williamstown and in the MCC members. He writes for www.footyalmanac.com.au
COLLINGWOOD 7.2 13.3 15.5 20.10 (130)
NORTH MELBOURNE 2.3 5.6 7.7 9.10 (64)
Collingwood: De Goey 4, Mihocek 4, Hoskin-Elliott 3, Stephenson 3, Grundy, Adams, Phillips, Greenwood, Cox, Thomas
North Melbourne: Daw 3, Ziebell 2, Brown 2, Goldstein, Hrovat
Collingwood: Pendlebury, Adams, De Goey, Howe, Sidebottom, Mihocek, Hoskin-Elliott
North Melbourne: Higgins, Cunnington, Tarrant, Goldstein, Anderson, Clarke