Sometimes, on days like today, I feel like a complete alien.
My Facebook news feed is chockers with people banging on about State of Origin. It was all over the TV last night. I even heard it on the radio when I dropped the kids off at school this morning. It’s only going to get worse before the game is played tonight. And I’m over here, like, “I don’t give a single fuck about football”.
Same shit, different bucket
I’m supposed to, of course. I live in Victoria and the natives here are seriously positively certifiably mental about football.
“But that’s AFL! It’s soooo different to League!” I’ll hear someone try to tell me. Fuxache. It’s all the same shit to me: men chasing a ball around and whatever.
I’ve lived in the state of Victoria for 13 years this year and I’ve never managed to assimilate. It was a huge culture shock when I first got here: even women used to sit around the tearoom in one office I worked at and discuss the footy on a Monday morning.
“Who do you barrack for, love?” people would ask.
“What’s a barrack?” I’d say.
“What team do you support?” they’d clarify.
“OH. None. I’m not interested in football,” I’d say. Try saying that in the state of Victoria and you can actually hear jaws dropping to the floor, I can assure you.
But, because it’s Victoria, and the Walking Dead here have an incurable sports-related brain disease, they cannot let it go. Once they pull themselves together, they’ll further enquire along the lines of “What the fuck is wrong with you?? You should get yourself a team and you need to go to the footy and…”
Usually at this point I’ll just say “Look, I’m from New South Wales” and they’ll smile knowingly at me and ask which NRL team I barrack for. When I tell them I don’t give a fuck about that either, they’ll usually back away slowly, avoiding eye contact with me, like I’m Hannibal Lecter or something. Yeah… like I’m the weirdo!
Yes I realise that as an expatriate New South Welshman serving hard time in the state of Victoria, I should probably have some sort of patriotic duty to take at least a passing interest in State of Origin because it’s important to show Queenslanders who’s boss. But we don’t need a football game to do that, right? I mean they’re Queenslanders FFS.
With the exception of the wonderful Stay At Home Mum community who are fine, upstanding members of society, all Queenslanders are a bit, you know, Queenslandish.
I will admit, I did go to the football once. And It was wonderful.
I was served a three course gourmet meal and got to drink unlimited glasses of champagne while there was some sort of ball game being played outside the window on the field. And if I ever score tickets to a corporate box again, I will be there with bells on. I don’t even know who played that Friday night (I can hear my husband face-palming from here) and I don’t care.
At the time I said to the husband “If I’d known the football was like this, I’d have done this much sooner!” He got cross and pointed out the window at some poor bastards shivering in the cold and said “You’re not really at the footy. You’re meant to be down there eating a meat pie!” And I was all, “fuck that for a joke” and kept drinking my champagne.
Apart from scoring free food and booze once, the only other positive to football in my life has been grand final day. Here’s a hot tip: if you absolutely hate crowds in the supermarket and you live in Victoria, time your weekly shop to coincide with the start of the grand final. I guarantee you will just about have the supermarket to yourself… and the roads getting there and back. Bliss.
A few years ago they had to have a rematch of the grand final the next weekend and I was back at Coles for a second week, with no other soul in sight except for the poor checkout operators who were dying from Victorian football related withdrawals, being forced to work on the day and all that.
Each to their own
Look, I know that for many of you weirdos, football brings you much joy. Good luck to you, seriously. I can’t pretend to understand your sickness, but I’m sure you wouldn’t understand mine.
My favourite televised sport is politics. I watch the 7:30 Report for fun. Budget Night? I’m there. And for me the Olympics is the ABC’s election night coverage with my hero, Antony Green, talking about “the swing”. I’m currently champing at the bit for polls to close at 6pm on Saturday 2nd July 2016 so I can get my Antony Green on. I even watch election night coverage for all the state elections… even for places I don’t live in (yes, even for bloody Queensland!) because I find it that thrilling.
I know most people would rather watch paint dry… and that’s how I feel about football.
If only it were acceptable to send my kids to school dressed as Antony Green for “Footy Colours Day”, my life might be much less complicated.