Hope and conflict at the MCG

Scarred trees, football stars and the long walk towards change

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  • Published 20180807
  • ISBN: 9781925603316
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

THE ADULTS STARE hard, looks of panic rip through the crowd. A curiously dressed man in clinical white clothing follows the ball with a dancer’s grace. He turns quickly between two enormous poles, faces the ground, then raises both arms and sharply points his fingers to the field. It’s a goal. People shout in communal ecstasy, while others look away, distraught.

Another Saturday at the footy with Mum, her familiar cries mimicking the overeager crowd all around us. Her exaggerated body language reminding me of the West Coast Eagles’ win in the 1992 AFL grand final. On that occasion, we watched from home: tickets for regular matches were expensive; attending a grand final was well beyond our means. Watching the Eagles trail Geelong in the first two quarters had revealed another side to Mum – full of nerves and zealous commentary every time the ball slipped through an anxious player’s hands. It was the first time an interstate team had won the flag, and with the television blaring I saw Mum’s animated reaction every time the Eagles kicked a goal. She loved the game and the players, whom she affectionately called her ‘boys’.

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