I’m not sure how I came to realise Amelia Harris was a huge footy tragic – we’ve been dealing with each other for many years now, both during her time at the Herald Sun and now in her role as a media advisor, but it seems like it’s just something I’ve always known. When I was thinking about who I’d like to interview for the blog this year she was high on my list, though it took some gentle arm twisting (and a breakfast out to indulge our mutual sweet tooth) to convince her to answer the questions and not ask them for a change. Despite the fact she goes for Collingwood we manage to get along very well and so she is the very first friend of the year I’ve harassed for their thoughts on football. Enjoy.
Name: Amelia Harris
Recruited from: Melbourne
Occupation: Ex-journo, now media advisor
AFL team followed: Collingwood Magpies
All time favourite footy moment: 2010 Grand Final
“I was probably born into a Collingwood family. My dad is a big Collingwood supporter and there was probably no other choice, really. My mum’s a Hawthorn supporter and comes from a Hawthorn family but I think my dad just won that battle from the get-go. I just couldn’t imagine going for anyone else now. Very few people change footy teams; I think once you’ve got a club you generally stay with them for life. I really just couldn’t imagine ever going for anyone else.
What do I love about Collingwood? Well, it’s great thinking you go for the club that everyone else hates… Collingwood has a great working class history, too. Obviously it’s also been great to see some success, like in 2010, and that’s pretty special – plus I got to share it with my dad and that was really nice.
I can’t remember the first time I ever went to the footy. I was about two-and-a-half in 1990 and my mum took me and dropped me off at the game – I went to the first quarter with my dad. When I was little I was really obsessed with going to see the banners. I think my mum was basically waiting at the back of the Hilton to drop me off for the banners and that first quarter, then did a bit of a rendezvous with dad and picked me up. Obviously dad watched the rest of the game and then I know we went to Victoria Park the day after. That was actually a pretty significant weekend in my life. I didn’t know it at the time but obviously there was the Collingwood flag and it as the weekend the Herald Sun was born with the merger of the Herald and The Sun – I went on to work there for seven years, so yeah, a pretty significant weekend in 1990. My dad kept all the papers including the first edition of the Herald Sun which I think was from memory ‘Lethal’s Weapon’. So I’ve still got all of those in my wardrobe, which my husband hates. They’re gathering dust. But you know, they’re important to me, so…
My first year at the paper was actually in sport. Obviously there’s a lot of AFL training sessions that need to be covered so occasionally I’d go to them but I tended to do a lot more country footy or amateurs footy. Which was kind of good, because a lot of people are into ‘ammos’ and it’s a nice ice breaker. When I was doing something for work in South Melbourne the other day I got talking to a Channel 10 cameraman and somehow we got talking about amateurs footy. It’s a really easy conversation. Country footy was great too because you learn where all these far flung towns are – now I hear places and I think, “Oh that’s in the East Gippsland League or Central Murray or whatever”. I also kind of thought for a while that it would be interesting to cover sports affairs, so more that ‘business of sport’ type of round. But then I fell into police reporting and so that just kind of happened.
I often go to the footy with my dad and that’s kind of always been our thing. So it’s good to see him and catch up with him. Generally you always know a few people going to a game. I’ve got a good friend who barracks for Geelong so the last few years there’s obviously been some great Collingwood v Geelong games and we’d go together, which is fun. It’s nice to catch up with friends and just have a great arvo. Hopefully see the Pies win.
I’m an MCC member but I’ve let my club membership go in the past few years. At the start I was doing both but now I’ve been a bit disloyal I must admit. About 8-10 years ago I was probably going to say 14 or 16 games a season but in the last few years it’s dropped off a bit. So I haven’t been a club member for a couple of years though I probably should.
I am a screamer. My husband hates it, he’s mortified. I can be very unhinged. And I’m past the point of caring now.
I don’t really have any superstitions but I always used to have a Cherry Ripe with my dad at half time. And I’d always have the bigger half. Always. And do you remember those Cazaly chocolate bars? They were only available at the MCG. They are a lost relic. It was like this caramel, coconut, nougat thing that you could only get there. But otherwise a Cherry Ripe at half time was the only non-negotiable. I normally take my scarf but I’m not pedantic about sitting in the same seat, or getting the same tram or anything like that. So I’m not too bad.
A couple of games that stand out would be that Easter Monday game against Carlton in the mid-90s where Mick McGuane had seven bounces and kicked a goal. Always good to have a win against the old rival in Carlton.A couple of those preliminary and qualifying finals in 2002 and 2003, that one where Didak kicked – was it against Adelaide? Or Port? (It was Port, thanks for bringing that up mate.) Ha, I didn’t want to say it! Didak kicked that goal from the boundary in the 11th hour. And then obviously in 2010 it was a dream come true.
I went to that grand final. My dad and I had gone in the MCC ballot and as usual there was a computer system fail, so we had one ticket, which wasn’t great, and had been trying to figure out what we were going to do. Basically on the Thursday or Friday I had said to my dad – I’d just finished work and I was doing police rounds at that time – that I thought I had no chance at that point and I’d have to go and camp. So I was going to go to my mum’s after I’d finished work, get the camping chair and the sleeping bag, and then I was arranging with my dad to pick up my car and take it from the work car park so it wasn’t there for three or four days. I was saying to dad, “Oh I’m going to mum’s house to get the chair and whatever and can you do my car, so I guess I’ll sleep the night and then see you on the Saturday morning” and dad said, “That’s fine, I can do that or you can come on the ticket I bought because I just went and got two tickets at $900 bucks or something”. My dad hates corporatisation of football and buying those tickets was obviously very last ditch, because he’s never been into any of that. So he had kind of strung me out where I thought I was literally going to get the camping chair and then at the last minute he’s like, I’ve just got us the tickets. I was this close to sleeping out.
So we went and it was just this weird, hollow feeling when the siren went and it was a draw. I looked at him and he looked at me and I thought, oh my gosh I’ve gotta do this all over again next week. The week was really tortured. I was working the day after the draw, 7am police rounds and I remember we had to go to Collingwood and stake it out. I was so distracted for the whole week and it was terrible – I could barely function at work. I think by the Wednesday things had evened up. With the draw you’re never going to have the ticketing issues like normal so I think we kind of knew by that Thursday that we had tickets again. We went and then I think it’s one of the few times I’ve seen my dad cry. We went with an old friend of ours who’s a mad Collingwood supporter and who had been really unwell, so that was really nice because he sadly died a few years later. But yeah, it was an amazing day. I was a crying mess. Doing it all again was just torturous. Terrible.
When I was a kid I was a big fan of Mick McGuane, which mortified my mum. I was a big Scott Burns fan too; just a nice guy, all round good guy, great player. I actually think now that he’s probably the person for the top job. I don’t know who I’d get to join us. I still think you need a quality full forward to win a grand final so maybe someone in that position but I don’t have a pick. I’ve never really contemplated too much about who you’d love to have come to Collingwood. Not recently, anyway.
Carlton is probably the team I love to hate, that’s been going on for years. I think that rivalry is going to go on forever really.
I would have liked to think that Collingwood would have made the eight this year but it’s not to be. I’m not sold on Nathan Buckley and again, I think Scott Burns has a better footy brain. If I had my way I think he’d be better in the coaching chair.
I think it’s great that the AFL subsidise Auskick so much. I mean, obviously there’s a benefit in that for them, but I do think it’s a really good thing. I think it’s a great way to make football accessible to families. I think these days it’s harder and more expensive for the average fan to be engaged with their club or the game. If you really want to be watching every game then you’ve got to have Foxtel, you can buy a club membership but there’s no guarantee really that you’re going to have a seat if your team is in the grand final – and for most people that’s what it’s really all about. I think the food is too expensive at the football and I just feel, particularly in the last few years, that the game is becoming more corporatised. I worry that that’s at the expense of fans.
I think football is all I’ve ever known. I grew up in a family that always had football as it’s number one sport and I’ve never had anything else. All my cousins, my mum, my dad, my grandma, everyone I guess, have just always been mad about football. It really is like a religion in Melbourne and it’s such a great social talking point. You ask people who they barrack for before you ask them a bunch of other things. It’s sort of that common ground and even if it’s someone who barracks for a different club you can still have a good conversation with them about football. Some people obviously care about it more than others but nearly everyone in Melbourne has some form of interest. It’s a great thing to talk about with your friends or work mates and there’s a nice social cohesion to it.”
Excellent, Nat. Loved it.
This series is fast becoming the Open Mike of the internet, a true delight, and I’d love to be featured, what’s the criteria?