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The things we do for our children. My husband, who has never watched an entire AFL match in his life (see “This Non-Sporting Life“), tried to sit down with his son to watch the Grand Final. When the siren blew after the first half hour, he was excited. “We’re halfway there!”, he exclaimed, pouring himself another fortifying beer. I pointed out that it was only the first quarter and I think, if the television wasn’t up so loud, I would have actually been able to hear his spirit officially break. 

If it weren’t for my uncharitable remarks during the ad for Erectile Dysfunction (“Those ad sellers certainly know their audience!”), he might have gone on to lay slumped in a drunken stupor for the remainder of the game. Instead, he slunk off at the first opportunity with his tankard of beer to get the BBQ ready, where he conveniently busied himself for the rest of the afternoon (“Sorry, son. These sausages aren’t going to cook themselves…”).

Soon thereafter, when I wandered off to get the salads ready, Mr Justice complained. I promptly gave him a bowl of Smith’s finest to keep that complainin’ mouth busy – but knew, in my heart of hearts, that I couldn’t just stuff him with junk food for the next few hours. He’d fill up at one point or another. 

Luckily our fellow non-AFL abiding friends turned up shortly afterwards to help us ignore the football. Touchingly, KC (not affilliated with the Sunshine Band) had tried to get into the spirit of things by making Hawthorn-themed cupcakes. This put Mr Justice’s nose a little out of joint – after all, he’d declared the house a Geelong zone by putting up his own home-made “Go Cats!” sign on the front door. KC tried to explain that yellow and brown were the only colours she’d had in the house, but the damage had been done. The adults were banished outside to chat amongst themselves, while Mr Justice stayed in to barrack for his precious team alone. 

And so the afternoon progressed pleasantly, with much food, wine and conversation. Mr Justice ran out periodically giving us enthusiastic updates such as “Geelong is catching up!”, “Hawthorns [sic] are getting lots of points!”, “I’ve made a poem: ‘They’re strong! They are Geelong!'” and, almost ecstatically, “One of the Hawks has been injured!!!”. 

Out of maternal love, I went in to watch the final four minutes with him – even if it was just to see how many ads Channel Seven could shoehorn into the breaks between play (The answer? An unsurprisingly large amount). As that final siren blew and I turned to Mr Justice to commiserate, I saw tears welling up in his eyes. Gee, he’s really feeling Geelong’s defeat deeply, I thought to myself. But, as it turned out, it was only because Tiddles McGee had just bopped him a good one on the head with a hard plastic light saber and, after a quick recovery, he was off to play on the computer. 

Our BBQ continued without any of the adults really making any reference to the result. KC and my husband talked world politics and the global economy (la-di-dah!) and MM and I went back to chatting aboutthe wonderful world of blogging. Only Uncle B went and kicked the rubber footy around with the little kids for a bit. After all, as the only Victorian-born adult amongst us, his indifference to AFL must make him a little like a lapsed Catholic and so he had to pay some form of penance. In any case, I think we all enjoyed our virtually football-free Grand Final BBQ immensely.  

As for Mr Justice… As I put him to bed that night, he asked with wide eyes: “Mummy, which team do you think tried the hardest?”. It was definitely Geelong, darling. “Good”, he said, satisfied. “I think I’ll go for Geelong again next year.” They’re strong, they are Geelong, indeed.

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