The footy beanie has long been maligned as the fashion province of the “wack job” when worn outside of game day or work/school “footy dress up days”. Yet I’ve worn one consistently for over 50 years in a variety of social, vocational, family and general life situations. At times with pom pom, at times sans pom pom. I generally felt inoculated against the beanies “beware this person” social signifier as I tended to wear it tight to the scalp as opposed to the crown “air time” favoured by the socially dispossessed where a poor fit translates into adding an extra couple of inches to your height measurements along with the launch of a diagnosis.
If you need space or a bit of air in your social interactions, some “me” time well then pop on a beanie. I’ve often thought that if the world’s commerce was oiled by the mutual wearing of a club beanie – or if you’re a non believer then a rasta or ski woollie would be acceptable – then the world would be a looser, more benign place.
But every year I forget about footy finals and how when you add that beanie to your persona you shed what little dregs of common sense, humility and dignity in the face of adversity you’ve got left in the vault. That odd adage of greeting tragedy and success in the same stead is a philosophical sham under the woollen weight of the lanolin head massage.
And so we return to the G to play the old enemy Geelong just two weeks after we returned from the dead of 29 points down at half time to slam home 10 unanswered goals in a second half described as “Mission Accomplished” by Geelong coach Chris Scott. Speculation was rife that Scott was either:
- An arrogant tabby who couldnt meet tragedy with the same face as victory
- He took the pedal of the gas to see how the Hawks respond under pressure
- He was totally out coached.
Our seats are magnificent, perched up on Level 2 of the Ponsford stand, Punt road end but with our backs to the spiritual Glenferrie shrine, but this oversight is mediated by Hawk warrior Brad Sewell winning the toss in his 200th game so that our glorious warriors will kick toward “home” in the last quarter.
From experience Level 2 can be a polite football experience yet the alternating bays of opposing supporters encourages exchanges of witticisms and frustration, occasionally aggression. I used to be a Kennedy “Gold” member at the Hawks with a reserved seat on Level 2 with access to the Social Club (strictly no beanies) where drinks came in real glass but generally by half time I’d snuck back behind the goals with the bros and bitches of the social melting pot behind the goals that is the Hawthorn cheer squad.
So you got finals, a thermos of expresso coffee, a quietly digesting KFC Zinger burger within you, the enemy beside you and your fricken lifelong friend the beanie on. Anyone got a match? The game is a cracker. The Cats jump the Hawks who don’t score the first of their 3 in a row majors until time on. Hawks look nervous and lacking a bit of composure especially with the uncontested ball. Bartel gets the first for Geelong in the second, then Selwood swoops on a turnover but The Hawks dominate the second quarter getting out to a 14 point lead courtesy of Jack Gunston before Walker goals on the siren to tie it up at 41 each at half time.
It aint called the premiership quarter for nothin’ and tonight the rule is reinforced once more. Hale marks and goals quickly, followed by Selwood so its tied up again. Tom Hawkins under pressure from both Brian Lake and his own mind has had a shocker with balls bouncing off his chest and fingers and exhibiting again his lack of a defensive mindset and need of a media appointment in the psychologist’s chair. Yet here he out bustles Lakey, marks and goals. Hodge pulls out a party trick on the boundary, followed by two from Jack Gunston and as the air horn blasts the fragile grip on reality possessed by the ground’s seagulls, the Hawks are up by 14 points and well aware of Geelong’s inability to run out games of late.
This is where common sense goes out the window and the beanie effect kicks on as a series of laughs, guffaws, mimicry, piercing whistles, claps, jigs and shouting emerges from me as if from the footy/caveman spirit world into the faces of the Geelong fans now suffering within their own ether of suffering.
Condemned now to a week of mental ice bucket challenges they await they’re fate in the coming first semi final against either the Kangas or the Dons.
The last quarter is party time early as Bruest rolls a snap true. While Geelong answer via Blivcas suggesting a comeback, the Hawks consolidate their lead with 2 goals from Lewis in traffic, a Roughead check-sides from the boundary 35 out and a Langford run and carry. By now the West Gate Bridge is a basket case as the Cats fans scurry back to their lair to set the ice. Taylor gets a compensatory score but it’s still a 36 point pummelling at games end. Roll the song, dancing and hugging of strangers.
You’ll be glad to know that as traffic conditions going home were putrid, I removed my beanie once behind the wheel in the interests of courteous driving.