not just a game


* great Stuart Walmsley pic

This column was written before the grand final.

So at this juncture I’m entirely ignorant of the winner and frankly don’t much care who takes out the flag – Hawthorn or Fremantle.

Like so many people this season I feel deeply disillusioned about Australia’s No.1 spectator sport, barely managing to muster enough interest to watch more than a quarter or two here or there.

The interminable Essendon supplements saga – and more particularly the AFL hierarchy’s woeful handling of it – has tainted the game.

This season – the one that never was – will enter the annals as footy feeble.

It’s like all the ticker just went out of it as soon as someone tried to inject it with peptides and pig’s brain extract.

I admit I’m a jilly-come-lately to the sport.

But it wasn’t my fault I was dragged north of the border to live among a family of footy philistines shortly after birth.

Returning to Victoria as a 40-year-old I quickly discovered the importance of football as a kind of social glue.

In NSW people ask where you live so they can calculate the approximate value of your bank account. In Victoria they demand to know what football team you follow so they can see into your heart.

I chose Collingwood as my team after being press-ganged into the work footy tipping competition, without then fully understanding that – eventually – we must all choose a tribe and stick.

The Maggies seemed so unloved. Even the sports editor – an avowed Collingwood supporter – never backed his own team, though he bled for them. “They haven’t got a chance,” he’d say week after week.

For me it’s black and white you don’t tip against your team – even if in your heart you know they are in for a 50-point drubbing.

I proudly bore all the unkind jokes we Collingwood supporters endure like a born supporter, albeit one with all my teeth.

My passwords, my car, even the black and white laced wyandotte chickens, reflected my sporting heroes.

In 2010, the year of the Collingwood- St Kilda grand final replay, I was ecstatic simply to have the chance to watch them play another game.

It’s a far cry from how I feel about football today.

One of my girlfriends – an absolutely rabid Western Bulldogs supporter – agrees the game has lost a lot of its gloss.

She blames Essendon entirely, but I don’t think the buck stops there.

When a company is not performing as it should, the stakeholders should look to the CEO … if they can find him.

Just why is it Andrew Demetriou takes holidays overseas during the football season?

Like it only lasts 27 weeks, but last year he spent six of them on a European odyssey including the Olympics

This year when ASADA finally delivered its interim report into the whole sorry Essendon story Demetriou was in the United States on a junket and actually extended his stay longer than the rest of the AFL contingent.

However, he denies that during this crucial time he met with tennis honchos to discuss a post with Association of Tennis Professionals.

But in a volley with 3AW presenter Neil Mitchell, Demetriou admitted US headhunters had – at some point – dropped that particular ball in his court.

If only he took the job. Wouldn’t that be ace?

* link to original pic


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