I have been a member of the Brisbane Lions Australian Football Club for 20+ years and I have pretty much attended every one of their home games for those 20 years. We have had our good times and our bad times and our GREAT times during those years – I have been there for them all. At the beginning of this season, I had to make the difficult decision NOT to renew my ticket due to financial constraints. It was a terribly hard decision to make and I actually felt guilty for quite awhile. You see, The Lions are going through a VERY bad time at the moment and probably need all the support they can get …. and I wasn’t going to be there to help them. *insert sad face emoji here*
Seven years ago, the people that had the seats behind us at the footy for a few years, changed from fellow footy supporters to very dear friends. Seven years ago at the end of the season, they whispered the exciting news that they would have a plus one, for the following season and in that moment of shared joy, I also shared our sad news, that we would have a minus one for the same season – knowing that my husband would succumb to his cancer during the off season. Both proved to be correct and a loving, supportive friendship blossomed from that day onwards.
It was with this family, now measuring four, that I set out to attend my first live game for the 2016 season. It was round 17 and the ticket was to be my birthday gift from my friends but so dire is the plight of this once mighty team, that free tickets had been offered by the club and had been willingly accepted by me! And so we set off for a night of fun, friendship and footy!
We began by stopping at a nearby pub for a pre-game cider and some very good pub band music! How come I could sing along to all of the songs and know the words asked Master 7 year old? Oh that’s easy, came my reply ….. these hits are very old and so am I!! And without missing a beat, I jumped from The Beatles, I Am The Walrus coo coo ca choo, to Dusty Springfield’s, The Son of a Preacher Man. I was living out my dream job ….. pub band singer, without leaving the table!! With the consumption of a very tasty cider, I reflected on what a great time I was already having and we weren’t even at the footy ground.
Onwards to the great Gabba ground where the crowd was no doubt small – officially recorded as a little over 10,000. Gone were the halcyon days of the Gabattoir rocking with 30,000+ spectators. A small but stoic group arrived, even after only one win in the previous 16 rounds, they were still hopeful of a positive result. The game began and the Lions kicked the first 2 goals. Maybe just maybe – that glimmer of hope began to glow. A beautiful night, great company – what could possibly go wrong?
Well, the form didn’t last and it wasn’t long before the Lions were falling behind. Our young team, sitting 2nd bottom of the table, were up against a team, sitting in the top 4. It was obvious that things were going to get messy! This being my first game for the season, meant that I continued to stay positive for longer than most of the “supporters” sitting near us. I could continue to look for the growth in the youth and could cut them some slack. But the hardened old blokes around us soon became vicious in their criticism of our team. Their expectation, was totally unrealistic and their comments were scathing. The straw that broke the camels back for me came, when a comment was made demanding a certain player to think like a seasoned performer and accusing him of not trying but rather being a passenger! The player in question was in just his second ever senior AFL game and was only 18 years old! I saw red! I swung around and informed the ignorant bloke behind me of those 2 facts and asked him why on earth he even attended games if he wasn’t going to be supportive? He retorted if he wasn’t good enough, he shouldn’t be playing senior football! I just shook my head in disbelief because as the coach of the team has said about
a million twenty times or more, they will be playing the kids for the rest of the season, due to the fact that they have many injured and some out of form players! I did not speak again …. but neither did Mr Ignorant! I had forgotten how good it felt to call out a twit!
The score continued to blow out and then this happened …..
In 10 years of sitting in the same seats, I can only remember the rain coming in the direction that caused us to get wet, once.
But then this happened …..
Make that twice!!!!!
On a day that began so well and finished with a 79 point drubbing, I still had fun and I still enjoyed friendship and I still loved my footy team. I would love to be able to renew my membership next year but my friend and I had a very long discussion about moving away from the ignorance of the blokes sitting behind. We have 2 very young boys who love their footy and their footy players, who don’t need to hear such negativity when out at the footy as a family. Section 72 – we’ve got you in our sights! Also, maybe the AFL could issue windscreen wipers for those of us that need them when it rains on our spectacles!