Reflections! Hope! Excitement!

When the new year started, I for one was excited and hopeful of what this year would bring. The AFLW team was going great, and I was looking forward to attending the last games of their season and hopefully a Grand Final’s berth. I was super excited to see what the new season was going to bring for the AFL team. I could not wait for the first bounce of season 2020, even if it did mean watching a Premiership team unfurl their winning flag.

The atmosphere would be electric, and I was going to be a part of that. I had made a vow, this season I would attend every single game, no matter where it was; last year I missed two games. The one against Freemantle and the Western Bulldogs game as I was in Byron Bay. Not this season, I was going to be at every single game.

In the group chats I was in; we could not wait to start the season: season 2020. But little did we know that something would happen that shook us all to our very core. That we could not see out the final games of the AFLW season and that we, Victorian’s, would not attend one single AFL match.
Media and social media were full of this thing called COVID19. We did not understand what was happening or what this COVID19 thing was.

Theories floated around the world about this thing, this virus, this very deadly virus. The more we learned, the more we realized that this was a serious, a severe and fatal virus. Thrown into a pandemic, one where the world had not seen since 1918, we asked ourselves, how on earth were we to deal with this? We could predict, and it did happen bushfires. We could predict flooding around the world, even a war that could plunge the world into the depths of catastrophic despair was always in the backs of our minds, but this! A virus! How could anyone have seen this coming? (Conspiracy theorists please no diatribe!)

We all had our own opinions on whether the footy season should start and how was this going to affect the season and the AFLW season. After much deliberation by the AFL, the AFLW season stopped, no definite winner would be pronounced. But the AFL season would start with Round One, with no fans at the game.

Watching a game that would have been a sold-out blockbuster with no-one at the MCG was heartbreaking, to be honest. I, along with others, was grateful to see the season start but devastated that we were not there. Then the season stopped, and we were all placed into lockdowns, for the speed of the virus in our world grew, and people were getting sicker and sicker and dying.

Finally, the season would start up again, and it would start up in places that would make Victorians’ barred from attending – hubs. Without a doubt, the states that had these hubs saved the AFL season, albeit, a shorter one. But we, Victorian’s would not be able to plan trips to the footy. We had the doors firmly shut on our season, and we could only support from the comfort of our living rooms, which may be warm and cosy, we would have given anything to be at the games, through the cold and rain. But alas, we could not.

The debates heated as to whether the winner of this season should have an asterisk beside their name. No matter which side of the fence you sat, in the end, the team that won, deserve the win. In the end, for Carlton, it was a season that had so much excitement and some disappointments that made it, for me, a season that showed glimpses of the immense possibilities for the future.

The devastating final siren loss to Port Adelaide, but the thrilling, nay bloody memorable win against Fremantle after the siren. All the time wishing I was there, for both games. The revelation that showed the type of player Sam Walsh was becoming. The extraordinary prowess of our young ruckman, TDK and how after only a few games, he is proving to be that missing factor that we have been without with Kreuz being unable to play. It has seen the bloody fantastic chest punching euphoria of when Cottrell kicks a goal and the electric possibilities of what Hazza would become, to name a few.

We were not able to be there to send off two players who deserve all the accolades that one can give, Kreuz and Simmo as they retire from the game. We had seen how the team won when no-one thought they could or would. We have seen how the team is growing and developing. We have had the incredible lows and the enthralling and exhilarating highs, and we Victorian’s were not there.

Season 2020 has been one that we have lived through all the time not quite believing that it happened. We have come out from this just a little bit more fragile at the tenuous state of our world and our game. I have to hope that season 2021 will be one where I can go to watch the games, no matter where and no matter if it is the AFLW or AFL. I am hopeful that I will be able to see in person another epic finish similar to what I consider the highlight of the year – Jack Newnes goal after the siren. For it was not only the goal that epitomized the result but the way the celebration at the ground, in the living rooms around the country and the hotel hub for the club. For it showed that despite what was being thrown at us, we the footy loving world would never give up on the game we love so much.

For most of us, we could not attend a season where there was much hope for the future of this great club and we thank those that cheered the boys on and made them feel the support that we Victorian’s could not give in person. We are all hoping that we can be there for season 2021, to see the club rise further up and I cannot wait for the season to start. It’s going to be an extra long period until it starts.

In a year filled with events that were out of our control, making us all retreat into our homes, it will be nice to get out and stand behind four white posts, all the while we get decked out in navy blue chanting with full voices “Carlton! Carlton!” It’s exciting, and the anticipation is palpable. GO BLUES!