I was five when my parents packed a bag with books to coloring, crayons and snacks and took me to my first soccer game at MCG. The coloring books weren't opened, the pencils remained in the package, and dad was slightly amazed that his young daughter was captivated by the footy. It was in 1995, the beginning of my admiration for a great Irishman named Jimmy Stynes and the catalyst who renewed my family 's allegiance to the Demons. Equally strong allegiance in our Melbourne gated homes.
Footy to me, has always been about the stories and tales that unfold alongside to and intersect with people's lives and community experiences. Of course, I like to dive into the statsistic, determining exactly how those four additional Contested Possessions made all the difference. I'm especially good at making several assumptions about the motivations behind the magnet-brewing, and I can tell by the look in a player's eyes that they forgot their lucky socks that day.
But, in the end, the greatest joy that footy gives me is how it helps us tell stories and allows us to connect with others with whom we might not otherwise have similarities. Although I have worked in football for the better part of my career - I have witnessed several finals campaigns in North Melbourne and have coached two grassroots Premierships - my closeness to the Dees' success was sorely lacking.
After a categorical victory of 83 points over a decorated and experienced Geelong in the final, the Melbourne Demons play in their first gra final in 21 years . This cohesive, strident Dees squad as they break out of a 57-year drought as prime minister. The Doggies did it in 2016, and although I have a distinct fondness for West Melbourne, they had their fairytale, now it's our turn. Dees fans, no doubt, have plenty of stories to tell from the past 57 years, and tell them that we will, as we have suffered pretty low troughs, and the current waves of positivity give us space. to tell our stories now.
In preparation for the grand finale, the framework for a new story is being built. The story will have a duality and the juxtaposition of emotions is all too familiar in this pandemic, where dhe moments of pure gratitude for the good in life have been coupled with a heartbreak evidenced by what is not possible right now. As the Dees head to a premier game played thousands of miles away, there is a solidarity in the collective experiences of fans in their living rooms, accompanied by the weight of physical isolation.
I was 10 when the Dees last played a grand final. Rather than being at the MCG, my Melbourne based family took a three month camping trip to Australia in July 2000. We were in Perth for the last big week. Nobody really expected the Dees to go this far in the final that year. Dad was playing with the idea of going home, but the money and leaving mum with three children in the tent was not feasible.
Instead of this my parents wrote to the club looking for De fanses in Perth. Join the Melbourne Western Demons fan group with their plans to host a grand finale party at the Melbourne Hotel in Perth. They concocted a false boundary barrier in front of the screen, red and blue whips, and primed their vocal cords well. We left our campsite, my hairstyle being two big updos on the side of my head, for maximum red and blue ribbon placement, and joined the Dees enthusiasts based in Perth. we screamed and then cried as the demons were beaten and rampaged by an Essendon team that was way too strong even for David Schwartz's bully, David Neitz's heart, and Shane Woewodin's peroxide spikes.
The last time the Dees approached a grand final was in the 2018 preliminary final. Again, I was thousands of kilometers away. I had recently moved to Beijing to complete a master's degreeise as part of the Schwarzman Scholars program. Along with two other Melburnians, my husband and I filled a college common room, prepared with a pre-game kick from the Sherrin - to the amazement of the Chinese students walking past - and we quickly fell to flat in our enthusiasm. Five minutes into the game it was clear the West Coast would nullify our dreams. I reluctantly closed the tabs on my computer that showed the cheapest flight route home.
I still feel jealous pain in my stomach after missing the excitement and leading to this foreplay. It is visceral in my imagination to think of the feeling in the MCG, of an electrifying victory in the playoff final against Geelong and in the semi-final against Hawthorn when the seeds of the 2021 Melbourne midfielder were really growing. 'to be sown.
During the years of desperation that Dees fans endured, there was little respect from outside the club. Dees supporters had to wear pitying looks and suggestions sneaky about the acceptability of the jump AFL is dispatched. When faced with ship-jumping suggestions, I would appeal to the resilience built in the worst times and state my one main request : to be able to attend only one Dees premier post in my life that I can celebrate with my father.
The pandemic and the many ways that she made us feel isolated made me change that and now I want to attend at least one hip prime minister, with my dad, even my whole family, together at the MCG. And I would love to do that with all of them. those who saw the last elocked in their living room.