Thursday, July 30, 2009

We are Geelong...

I am no stranger to football. Growing up in the Waikato (central North Island, for all of you out-of-New-Zealanders) I often went to a rugby game with my grandfather. One year my mum went to travel around Europe for a month while I stayed at my grandparents, which she says was the turning point. I think I was about 8 then. When she came back I was a complete rugby-head. I loved it, I would put on my red, yellow and black striped rugby jersey, yellow leggings and co-ordinate my hair ties with my beloved team's colours. At the game I would sit with my grandfather, and he would explain the rules to me, pointing out noteworthy players. I remember those times with him fondly. 

I moved to Wellington when I was eleven and, without the influence of my grandfather, my interest in rugby waned while I explored my new-found love of music. 

I have avoided all football-related things for about 9 years now, but here in Geelong, it is hard to ignore. Though it's a different kind of football, it's pretty much the same. Don't let the other team get the ball, and kick the ball between some posts at the end of the field to score points. The city is painted blue and white as each person pledges their allegiance to the Geelong Cats. AFL news makes it onto the front page of the local newspaper 4 days a week. Yeah, I get it, you like AFL. Whatever. My housemates are big supporters of the Cats, and the football often finds its way onto our television. Most of the time I hide in my room, spending my time doing more important things, like, um, blogging.

This past Saturday I went to my first AFL game since I moved to Australia. You know, getting involved with the local culture and all of that. As a Deakin University student and a resident of Geelong, it's pretty much a rite of passage. 

Before the game I painted my nails blue, bought a Cats scarf and had blue whiskers painted onto my cheeks. I had some hot chips, but the beer was too expensive. We were seated 3 rows from the field and as the game started I wondered how people could be so passionate about a ball being thrown around a field that they had to jump up and down excitedly every five minutes. I had three long hours ahead of me...


Geelong was playing a terrible game; fumbling with the ball, kicking to no one in particular and missing goals they shouldn't have. By the end of the third quarter we were down 25 points (hmmm, notice how I said 'we' there? Yeah, odd...) and I had given up on us winning. After they came back from quarter-time, Geelong's game improved and 5 minutes before full-time the teams were even. Now I was jumping up and down along with everyone else, yelling at the players to run faster, jump higher and kick the ball like I told them to! 

When there was thirty seconds left in the game, Geelong caught the ball in their side, meaning they got a chance to kick the ball between the posts and potentially break the tie. All of the Geelong supporters were ecstatic, it looked like we were going to win! The crowd fell silent when the ball was kicked into the air, the final siren rang (which I always thought was a Hollywood cliche) and when it sailed between the posts, the stadium was a sea of blue as Geelong celebrated their victory over the Hawthorn Hawks. We won by one point. Here's me, and a whole lot of team spirit:


I also discovered on Saturday that fur coats are the best for going to a football game in. So warm, plus it kind of added to the whole cats thing too.

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