Every year, without a doubt, I look forward to the start of footy. The distant smell of fresh grass, sounds of Sherrin’s manufactured permeate my imagination and the call of the siren that signifies the beginning of a game rings pleasantly in my ears. This anticipation as with every new day, the date comes closer and closer.
Every year, I plan my year based on games and their location. I book accommodation and flights if they are not in Victoria. My social calendar reflects the dates of games. For part of the year, I know where I will be and who I will be with at this time.
This process gets me through a season that I am not particularly fond of; I’m not too fond of summer, but it becomes a bridge that I have to cross to get to where I want to be – the start of the footy season.
Now I am a positive-outlook type of person. I see things half-glass full. I take every negative experience and see the positive. I look at the mistakes as a lesson and a chance to change it into successes, but I am realistic and understand that circumstances and situations can alter a course. Yet all through this, I always had the knowledge that every week from the start of the footy season, I would be able to see my team play and be with those who I consider family. It became a cathartic experience that would make all the ills of the world and anything that was not great in a week, disappear; this changed in 2020.
From the onset, when the AFLW season was halted and stopped. When we knew that we could be at the opening match of the AFL season that eventually led into us, Victorian’s not able to attend any game. There was no planning, no excitement of going to matches, no flights booked, no meeting up with friends from interstate that has become a part of my life. It was gone, taken away by the most unfathomable situation – a bloody virus, a damn pandemic.
I would not be able to see friends, or experience that extraordinary euphoria and disappointment that comes with going to a game. I felt left out, separate from a game that made me feel the exact opposite other times.
The games on the whole were, and I am not referring to just Carlton games, but the AFL on the whole, was, well, boring. Those games that got me on the edge of my seat (at home), were few and far between, yet I felt disjointed as if I was watching a game, but one that seemed unreal. The canned noise, while was good, made the games feel staged at times.
Without a doubt, some fantastic, epic, mind-blowing games resulted in spectacular marks, unbelievable close games, and who can ever really forget that goal at the end of the match between Carlton and Fremantle. It still blows my mind, but the little bubbles of sadness peak through because I could not be there.
The footy for me is an avenue of getting away from everyday life. It is a way to get together with people who share the same passion as me about the game and the team that I love. It is that excitement that starts after summer when you know that there is not long to go before that smell of fresh-cut grass fills the air, the knowledge that the Sherrin factory is getting ready and that in the distance the echoes of a siren flitters through.
As summer approaches, there is that disjointed feeling that the start of the footy will be a long, long, long, long way away when all I want is it to come, well, now. As Victorian’s, we had to watch our beloved game being played everywhere else, except here. I am in no way taking away the impressive feat that the other states have achieved in continuing our 2020 season and how our interstate supporters were able to cheer on their team. Still, for me, as a Victorian, it is bitter-sweet.
As we head into December and the end of what has been, well, a year that really upset the cart, the hope that in 2021 we in Victoria will be able to get to games looms large and loud in our heads.
Season 2020 is fading away and season 2021 looms. I hope that I can plan some sort of normality in my footy calendar and look forward to leaving behind the trials and tribulations of a week and as I scan in my membership, leave that outside of the stadiums. The many experiences I have had over the years being at the footy, the good and the bad, far outweigh anything else. I want that back.
Here’s to 2021 having some sort of normality and here’s to hopefully, attending games. I want that sore throat at the end of the match. I want to feel that euphoria and sometimes disappointment that comes at the end of the game. I want to chant, sing, swear and yell, hug friends and banter with strangers and fellow supporters. I missed that in 2020.