(Because of the fact that you can read this in real time, you can only take my word for it that this took forever to write! A rush out the door to catch a flight meant that I left a fair chunk of my left index finger on a piece of furniture I was packing away. 6 people almost missed our flight as a result of the initial stemming of the profuse bleeding. This was 6 days ago and my finger continues to give me my pulse and I temporarily type like my father, who writes in capital letters, just for the record. I appreciate your concern.)
My current trip includes Copenhagen, Berlin, Milan, Lisbon, Geneva and Frankfurt.
I really thought that the magic of Europe would offset the pain of missing the AFL Grand Final. These amazing cultures, architecture, sights and people; surely that would be more than enough to make me forget about a football game on (literally) the other side of the world that no one in my vicinity give two hoots about.
For the uninitiated, Geelong just beat Collingwood for the Australian Football League premiership, giving them their 3rd title in 5 years. It’s basically like the beloved Barcelona knocking off the hated Man United … or Real Madrid, depending on which way your bread’s buttered.
Game time here in Lisbon was 6.30am Sunday morning, so a big night out beforehand seemed like the right thing to do! Go out, have some fun, hit the hay late and sleep through whatever was about to transpire in the early (and ungodly) hours of the morning. My plan seemed like a pretty good one, and played out in reality better than I could have imagined – sleep came a mere 3 hours before game time after an epic night out.
(As an aside, our night in summary – 8 strangers from 5 different countries joined our original crew of 5 as the night (and morning) progressed; amazing drinks were consumed but not in the realm that made a hangover a distinct possibility and great music was listened and danced to … think the opening montage of Wedding Crashers (minus the topless chicks) and you have the last 3 hours of our night … including dancing to that same traditional Jewish song! How does this relate to going a year without watching sport? It doesn’t, but thanks for listening…)
So, of course with only 3 hours until the game began, I would wake up a full 15 minutes before it kicked off, giving me time to get to a screen should I so desire. Is it an achievement that I didn’t succumb (great word!) to this temptation? I say no.
Ahh well, roll over, try and get some more (fitful) sleep and see out the remaining 3 hours.
Not knowing the result
Awakening in a dorm room of 6 to have a friend singing the Geelong theme song meant that my grandiose attempt to go as long as possible without finding out the result lasted less than 2 minutes. Well done, Pete.
And it’s here, for me, that I really felt the sacrifice of missing the game. You see, they’re not my team, but I love Geelong. They came around on the back of a horrendously defensive era that was synonymous of the Sydney and West Coast teams, played attacking football, kicked a tonne of goals, had a heap of stars and were a likeable enough group.
But, as of last year, they were finished.
All great eras come to an end, and on the back of their humiliation at the hands of Collingwood in last year’s Preliminary Final and the departure of superduperstar Gary Ablett for a kajillion dollars, it seemed like their time, too, had come.
I had resigned myself to the ‘fact’ that the hated Collingwood would go back-to-back and I wouldn’t miss that much. And then Geelong pulled out the fairytale story, played with a rejuvenated vigour and did the seemingly impossible. I know that if you were following it that the Cats started on Grand Final day as favourites, but believe me, 6 months ago, what just happened was unthinkable.
Their victory grants instant and enduring credibility to an amazing era and justifiably rewards what was not only a successful era, but an entertaining one played with flair, dash and entertainment value well beyond what most strong teams have been able to conjure up over the last while.
And these are the stories you want to be a part of.
So much of the sporting landscape is endless analysis, over-exaggeration and hype; I have embraced avoiding that element of it. But this … this was something far more credible, genuinely exciting; romantic even. Missing it struck a nerve far beyond anything else of the last 4+ months.
But life, and the media, goes on. I am 2 days removed from starting the draft to this piece and I am considerably less angsty about what transpired. Perspective has arrived. Also intriguing are the ‘big’ footy stories of today – a coach leaving while another joins Collingwood, and 2 players dressing up as ‘the St Kilda schoolgirl’ for their end-of-season celebrations; stay classy, fellas. The 3 day test will find less and less about Geelong’s achievements and more of that ‘style’ of story.
If I was to be given one ‘Hall Pass‘ (horrible concept and hor-rendous movie), it would have been to see the Grand Final. But now, that’s passed and things are looking up.
There’s always next year.