The Inescapable Game

By Madeleine Kerr

I don’t really follow footy. Strange, I know. I’ve never been to a footy game either. Again, strange, I know. But footy is still a part of my life, albeit a rather small part. I see the excitement it causes my friends, my family, my cousins, my classmates, even my teachers. Footy is deeply ingrained in our culture, the Australian culture. If you live in this vast country, you can’t escape it. It’s everywhere. It’s easier to just let yourself be swept away by the hype and chatter surrounding our beloved AFL. And why wouldn’t you. Even those as ignorant as me about the finer points of Australia’s game find themselves in some way pulled into its circle. AFL is something almost every Australian wants to be a part of, even if they don’t admit it.

If I’d have to choose a club, it would be Richmond. The Tigers. My favourites. Not just because they are cats. I adore cats. Actually, it is kind of a family tradition. Most people on my mum’s side barrack for Richmond. I think it stems from my Great-grandfather. He lived in Richmond, being of Irish decent. My cousins are by far and away the most enthusiastic Richmond supporters in our family. Abby and Mikaela, along with their parents, attend almost all Richmond’s games. One of my favourite examples of my cousin’s love of Richmond is the magnetic AFL ladders that they keep in their rooms. It is like every normal AFL ladder except for one thing. Richmond dominates the number one spot. Always. They tell me it’s the true AFL ladder. How it is meant to be. They are adamant that Richmond is the greatest team in the history of footy and that the AFL ladder is always wrong. I just chuckle and smile. They are unfalteringly loyal, I’ll give them that, but very stubborn. And luckily not easily disheartened. It is common knowledge that Richmond doesn’t always win and they are the subject of almost all footy-related jokes.

Another thing that always gets to me is something that my grandmother told me during one of my families joyous visits to her house. I eat mountains of pastries there and always go home with an overly-full stomach. I remember her telling me about growing up as a Richmond supporter. She remembers how fanatical her family was about Richmond and how they were always quick to defend their club. That is not the thing that stays with me though. Her sharpest memory of these football outings was of the constant losses. She says she doesn’t remember watching a match in which Richmond won. It seems things haven’t changed too much, although recent events could be leading somewhere. At least that is the hope of Richmond’s forever loyal fan club.

Although my family is more of the soccer kind, football is still an inescapable part of our lives. And this doesn’t bother me. Football is the talk of the town down here in Melbourne for the better part of the year and it feels very odd when there isn’t any news that is football related. Everyone can connect over football, even if they’re from rival teams. Whatever people call football in their countries or their states, it’s always the same. Football has created communities worldwide. Wherever there is football, whether it is Soccer or Rugby League, Gridiron or Australian Rules, you can find communities of people dedicated to their game and their teams. Football is an inescapable game, but why would you ever want to escape it?


About John Harms

John Harms is a writer, broadcaster, publisher, historian, speaker and teacher. He loves stories.

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