3 clubs, 23 rounds, A slab of passion….

Nostalgia for Suburban Balance

The good ol days – Arden Street oval, the Lakeside oval, smokin at the footy, polystyrene eskys full to the brim with 750ml steel cans of Carlton Draught, no name footy boots, buttons on guernseys, mud, puddles on the ground, fist fights, boiling mince within 4 and 20s, teeth knocked into guts and of course ten cent Footy Records printed on low grade news print. Life in Black in White. VFL.

There was a symmetry about South V North games, separated by river but joined by a blue collar ethic and a singular commitment to a lack of success on the field. Hard to believe it, but triple Brownlow Medalist and Butternut Snap advocate Bob Skilton waited until the twilight of his magnificent career to experience a lone crippling final where defeat was an experience as if ripped apart by wild dogs.

Ironic that both clubs embraced modernity quicker than most and Norths final push to the summit in 1975 was fueled by the short lived 10 year player rule and a new breed of entrepener keen to fast track to sucess on the basis that footy clubs could run like a public company. South went financially south then pushed North to survive for a time as South Melbourne before becoming the Sydney Swans. Rationalisaton had begun.

Now North are going South over water to pursue financial stability. Where do they belong and where the hell are the fans. It feels like Sydney still have more fans in Melbourne than North – the connection to the suburb still flickers than say Fitzroys Brisbane incantation/takeover.

Fast forward to the new era and both clubs dip into the well of Premiership glory, in the Swans case the first for over 70 years. My father, Noel or Toby to most, and triple Best and Fairest for the Leongatha Rovers in the late 1940s turned to the Swans in 1933 as he tuned into the underdogs on a crystal radio while pulling tits on the family diary farm. The Swans whipped the Tigers that day but there is no historical evidence of this event on subsequent milk yields. He died well before the move of the Swans to Sydney and the later flag under Roosy. As a kid I could never reach his brutal 8 foot up stab kicks from 40 yards on our nightly kick to kicks on the farm before the cycle of milking called. I never saw him play of course but from our 10 years of kick to kick I imagine the Swans player he most approximated would have been Paul Kelly.

Back to the future and this game has a sort of middling quality to it. Both clubs aren’t up to challenging the contenders, this game exists purely for the moment and another 4 points. Kinda like a doomed climb up Everest where everytime you turn your back another Sherpa has done a bunk.

The first half lacks the kind of buzz that can overcome comfort eating, but post big break it picks up and the lead bounces about. The Roos really need a few superstars to rise above that Skinboner legacy that ties them to an unsuccesful past. After all, few career counselors interviewed for this articles recommended that a focussed young adult pursue shinboning as a potential career path.

Kangas couldn’t buy a goal or a free in the last seven minutes and, down a point, the siren is met by the sounds of thousands of roo member bums erupt from seats generating an amplified THWACK as they stream cussing toward the exit. No waiting around, just get me out of here.

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Hit me on the chest with your centimetre perfect pass