Monday, May 17, 2010
My First Live Footy Game: A Not-So-Brief History
It would be fun to watch a game I did not understand and had no interest in, I thought. I could concentrate on the crowd and the food and could wear my Eskimo jacket that I can’t wear anywhere else unless I want to look retarded. In a stadium full of mad fans, no one would notice me...and even if they did, it’s an open stadium on a winter night; not totally different from the Arctic anyway.
Thanks to the new “Win tickets to AFL” initiative at work, we would finally get to watch a live match in the Subiaco Oval...something we always wanted to do, just for the experience (and also because Subiaco has the best restaurants).What? You seriously must be kidding if you thought I would actually carry homemade “dabba” with roti, dal and chicken curry to the stadium...or even homemade chicken sandwiches for that matter. And surely you don’t suppose that the burger and chips available inside the stadium at half time could fill me up for dinner. There you go...every finger was pointing towards a restaurant in Subiaco. What joy!
I had witnessed the AFL madness for the last 2 years... having shared my office cubicle with two Dockers fans who could sell their wives if they had to in order to see a game. There were at least a dozen others at work who chatted in the office kitchen every day, sharing notes, renewing their loyalty pledge for the purple team, showing off statistics like school kids at a quiz.
This bubble of excitement was punctured right when it was at its peak, by our Office Manager who thought she brought me good news. “By the way Deblina”, she said “hope you know that you have premium seats in the stadium and both Jack (MD) and Jill (CEO) will be there with their families to watch the game”.
And before you think that I work for Nickelodeon, where the MD and CEO are called Jack and Jill...let me assure you that those are pseudo-names for the purpose of this post.
WHAT! Both Jack and Jill would catch me at my dumbest best? I don’t even know who’s playing who....had been planning my dress and dinner instead! What the hell am I going to talk to them about? My Eskimo jacket? Shit. Shit. Shit.
I was covered in shit.
So I did what I do when am in trouble. I Googled. And there it was... “12,500,000 results”. That could keep me busy for the rest of my life! But with my post-graduation in “Skim Reading: 100 ways to read a little and know a lot”, I was sure I could do it. I could fool the University of Calcutta...I believed I could repeat that with Jack and Jill.
So after an afternoon of frantic research...brief history, rules, teams, players...I wasn’t looking too bad.
We took the train to Subi, as chances of getting a parking on a footy night was as strong as me playing for the AFL. The Peth station looked like Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. And am not exaggerating like I usually do. Only difference was that it was painted purple. The Dockers fans in their purple jumpers, socks, scarves, t-shirts, caps, bags, wallets…even lipstick (trust me on this), were quite a sight. Amit and me were the only “plain clothed” passengers on the train. And now I stand corrected…Perth does not have a population of 400. It has at least a little more than 41,283 (the stadium attendance on the night). Little more than that I say, because I know 2 friends who have flu and could not go to the Oval that night.
With my head crammed with footy facts, I reached our seats. There there…I could already see Jolly, a company shareholder (again, not real name) from a distance…so Jack and Jill wouldn’t be far away. But Jolly did not know me, thank god for that.
In a few minutes, neither Jolly, nor the constant fear of seeing Jack and Jill mattered anymore. The game got addictive…the excitement, contagious. Beers were passed around like water bottles…Aussie swearing, and flags and whistles and cheering and all that it takes to make a spectator sport fun. And I ended up loving the game that I did not understand and had no interest in…
P.S. Turned out that Jack was out of station and Jill couldn’t make it either. So much for my cramming.